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Onorato rides again: Raiding propriety

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Officials of the Allegheny County Airport Authority might want to change the locks on their offices. That's because the king of diverting public resources to uses proscribed by law is on the hunt again.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato had his heart -- not to mention his 2011 budget -- set on siphoning money from royalties from Marcellus shale natural gas drilling at Pittsburgh International and the county airport. The only problem is, federal rules require such income to be reinvested in the airports.

But don't expect a silly thing such as rules -- or the law -- to stop the Democrats' gubernatorial nominee from five-fingering from others to cover his numbers, so to speak. He's attempted to do it before and he's trying to do it again.

Mr. Onorato had the audacity to claim a legal right to divert drink tax money to non-mass-transit uses. He has none. In fact, the "ruling" he cited said just the opposite . And Onorato's already diverted tens of millions of dollars in gaming money intended to reduce Pittsburgh International's bond debt. He ignored state law in doing so.

Airport authority officials allowed Onorato to get away with what should be investigated as a misapplication of public dollars. Now Onorato is back for more, attempting to tap another kitty to which he has no warrant.

Will the diversion king be thwarted• Or will by hook or by crook once again rule the day?

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