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Investigative Reporting

Notes on the state of things

| Sunday, July 10, 2011

Look for Rich Fitzgerald to ratchet up his attacks this week against D. Raja.

Mr. Fitzgerald is the Dimmycrats' nominee for Allegheny County chief executive. The fella who never met a union demand to which he didn't kowtow was so successful in smearing the Republican ACE nominee last week for paying his taxes early that, as early as Monday, he'll up the ante -- accusing the former Mt. Lebanon commissioner of returning his library books on time and putting the toilet seat down. ...

Speaking of Mr . Raja, strangely missing from his campaign website these days is any mention of the property-reassessment mess. Raja supports delaying the long-delayed, court-ordered reassessment. At least he did in the primary. Those delays have done a grave disservice not only to taxpayers but to the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Running and hiding from one's position might be politically expedient, but it's intellectually dishonest. If Raja has changed his position, he should say so. If he hasn't, he should. ...

How much longer will R. Stanton Wettick Jr. allow county leaders to blow their noses on him• The Allegheny County judge overseeing the reassessment should have issued contempt citations long ago. Such mockery of the courts should be dealt with decisively. Judge Wettick's reluctance to do so has only emboldened these snots. And that can only produce more snot. ...

Big trouble ahead for Tim Murphy, the Upper St. Clair Demolican congressman. The Center for Responsive Politics says Big Labor's overall political donations were down 40 percent during the first quarter of 2011 compared with two years ago. And perhaps down the drain with it all of Mr. Murphy's slavish devotion to organized labor's efforts to make it easier to kill off businesses and jobs. What's a campaign donation trollop to do• ...

Mark Hart, the director of planning and development for the Pittsburgh Steelers, takes exception to a "Tuesday takes" item that said the Pirates and Steelers should pay for any additional parking spaces for which their sweetheart, parking space-eliminating developments create a demand.

"The money this development has returned to the city far exceeds the investment of public dollars that helped to fuel this growth," he (or the flack who sent it?) wrote in a statement.

Let's see, the public subsidies for the Steelers Heinz Field and the Pirates' PNC Park totaled $370 million. But the cost to the public rises exponentially when one considers the cost of servicing that debt.

Then there's the sweetheart land deal that gave the franchises no-bid development rights, conveyance of those parcels to third parties at decidedly below-market rates and the public infrastructure installed to support all of this. And let's not forget the multimillion-dollar subsidy the Steelers received to build Stage AE.

Do the private investment and taxes paid exceed the public subsidies (the latter of which reasonable people could argue are ongoing)• If Mr. Hart wants to make that case, he needs to pony up the spread sheets. Have your flack call mine, Mark; we'll do burgers.

But the primary issue here is parking. North Shore development has created a Catch-22. There will be more development. The Steelers want to add more seats to Heinz Field. They're causing the parking problem. They should fix it.

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