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Pittsburgh firefighters sue over state's continued financial oversight of city

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Monday, April 14, 2014, 1:30 p.m.

Politics, not finances, motivated Gov. Tom Corbett's decision to keep Pittsburgh under state oversight, the city firefighters union says in a lawsuit.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local No. 1, which represents about 600 members, sued the city and accused Corbett, a Republican, of agreeing to maintain oversight as a political favor to Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat.

Corbett and Secretary C. Alan Walker of the state Department of Community and Economic Development failed to consider Pittsburgh's improved financial condition and recommendations to end oversight from its fiscal overseers, the suit says.

“We're alleging the governor overstepped his authority by keeping Pittsburgh in Act 47,” union President Joe King said Monday. “What evidence did the governor or Mayor Peduto review, to carry us into another plan? Their own recovery plan coordinator recommended that we be released from Act 47.”

The suit filed Friday asks Commonwealth Court to reverse the decision Corbett announced last month. It names Walker, Corbett and Peduto as defendants.

Peduto's office declined comment. Corbett's office referred questions to DCED spokesman Steven Kratz.

Kratz said Walker, not Corbett, determined that Pittsburgh must resolve legacy costs including debt, employee pensions, retiree health care, workers' compensation claims and crumbling infrastructure before it can leave oversight.

Pittsburgh since 2004 has operated as a financially distressed municipality under oversight governed by state Act 47. Recovery plans have allowed the city to reduce its workforce, earn a higher bond rating and pay down legacy costs.

City labor unions say the plans have limited their ability to obtain salary increases and better benefit packages.

Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or




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