The Port Authority: Real 'reform'?
On paper, upcoming changes to the Port Authority of Allegheny County board under a new state law look like steps in the right direction. But the real gauge will be whether the new board quickly and firmly addresses the agency's fundamental financial woes.
The nine current board members' terms expire 60 days from July 18, when Gov. Tom Corbett signed the new law. It dilutes the Allegheny County chief executive's hitherto exclusive power over board appointments.
The new board will have 11 members serving staggered terms — and limit them to a maximum of three consecutive terms. The county executive will freely choose four, plus two from a list submitted by four community groups, whose appointments will require Allegheny County Council confirmation. The governor and the state House and Senate majority and minority leaders will each pick one of the other five members.
All must have backgrounds in finance, transportation or economic development. And PennDOT is required to study the potential benefits of consolidation and privatization for the authority.
But all these reforms will be for naught unless the new board effectively and promptly addresses the authority's burdensome legacy costs (think pensions) and its unionized workers' right to strike — the two biggest factors in its perpetual pauperism. Otherwise, taxpayers and riders can expect more of the same red ink, pleas for state bailouts, service-cuts brinkmanship and unsustainable giveaways to organized labor.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.