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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

| Friday, Dec. 26, 2008

On the "Watch List": One of Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato's myriad machinations surrounding the drink tax goes before a Common Pleas judge on Monday. The citizens group known as FACT (Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation) -- whose efforts Mr. Onorato has attempted to crush by nefarious means -- sued the ACE over his clearly illegal plan to use excess drink-tax receipts on non-mass-transit transportation projects.

But Act 44, the tax's enabling legislation, could not be more clear -- the tax receipts can be applied only to public mass-transit projects. Onorato is full of figgy pudding.

If the court doesn't slap Onorato's latest effort to freelance the law, the rule of law will join the county charter and administrative codes as dead letters. And it's yet another slap in the face of those who worked so hard to bring home rule to Allegheny County.

Laurel: To the Dominion Foundation. The philanthropic arm of energy provider Dominion Resources has donated $1.1 million to food pantries in 14 states, including four agencies in Western Pennsylvania. The largest local amount -- $50,000 -- will go to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The recession has squeezed the resources of food banks nationwide. Kudos to Dominion. We hope others follow its example.

Lance: To Pittsburgh 250. The folks behind the unfocused and shallow commemoration of the city's 250th birthday now are patting themselves on the back with a self-congratulatory TV commercial. Talk about public relations run amok. Talk about smoke and mirrors. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room. The effort would have been better spent creating concrete solutions to the city's many problems instead of this meaningless rah-rah-sis-boom-bahing. Pittsburgh requires leadership, not public relations. That's the stark difference between this generation of "leaders" and those past.

Laurel: To Ashley Moorefield. If ever there was proof that nurture can trump nature, its this wonderful East Liberty woman. She was raised in Homewood and had drug-addicted parents. But she persevered with the help of the Homewood-Brushton YMCA's mentorship program. She's now 23 and a mentor herself, and Avon's Hello Tomorrow Fund has awarded her $5,000. In a truly selfless gesture, Ms. Moorefield plans to use the money to aid the program's library and perhaps underwrite field trips. What a remarkable person Moorefield is. We wish her every success.

Be careful out there: Christmas is done. Well, not quite. It's National Return Day. And with Christmas falling on a Thursday this year and many folks turning one day off into a four-day holiday (or longer with New Year's ahead), it could be a jungle out there today. For you can bet all those pre-Christmas bargains will become post-Christmas fire sales with the troubled economy. But keep your wits about you, everyone. And enjoy the day.

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