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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Onorato comes out for anti-discrimination ordinance -- and other news

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Sue Kerr broke the good news already, but I thought it might be worth seeing on the county exec's own letterhead: Dan Onorato supports anti-discrimination protection for the couty's LGBT residents. The operative part of his statement reads as follows:

I am strongly supportive of passing inclusive non-discrimination legislation here in Allegheny County, as well as at the state level. I encourage our elected officials to do so without delay. All citizens, including members of the LGBT community, need to know that they are fully protected in employment, housing and public accommodations everywhere in the Commonwealth in order to make Allegheny County and Pennsylvania stronger and more economically competitive.

Good for you, Dan. Wish you hadn't kept us guessing quite so long, but we'll take it for the victory it is. 

***

Speaking of keeping people guessing, the world's all abuzz with news that Arlen Specter is switching parties. The question here too is ... what kept you so long? Only this time, I think the answer is more crucial.

I think everyone gets the motivation here: Specter knows he can't win in a Repubican Primary, because so many moderate Republicans have left the party, ceding it to right-wingers more inclined to vote for rivals like Pat Toomey and Peg Luksik. In fact, speculation about Specter switching parties has been going on for awhile.

Specter would, I think, have been better off taking that advice at the time. By waiting as long as he has, it makes his opportunism seem even more obvious.

What's more, Specter's vote against the Employee Free Choice Act was sort of the last straw for me. Not only do I think it was a terrible vote, and a betrayal of many of the working people and unions who have backed him, but ... I'm just sick of the drama with this guy. I'm sick of how we have to watch the noble Arlen Specter wrestle with his conscience in public, and tell us what a hell of a thoughtful and deliberative guy he is. And of course at the end of the day -- the right thing to do always lines up perfectly with whatever is most politically expedient at the time. 

Even his decision to switch parties is an example.  "I'm putting principle at the top of the list," he says. Yeah, sure. I guess it's just coincidence that you discovered this "principle" only after polls showed you didn't have a prayer of beating Toomey.

There's lots of talk about how Specter's switch brings the Dems to within a vote of being able to thwart GOP filibusters. But that assumes Specter, Mr. Independence, will actually vote in concert with other Democrats. I'll believe that when I see it.

Don't get me wrong: I'd vote for Specter over Toomey in a heartbeat. But I hope there's a solid, progressive alterative to Specter in the primary. Specter would probably win anyway. But look how a challenger from the right has gotten Specter to dance. Imagine what he'll do when confornted with a challenger on the left.  

***

Finally, a bit of a heads-up. Tomorrow afternoon, City Paper and its attorneys at the ACLU go before Judge Alan Hertzberg in an effort to make public some of the goings-on in the Scaife divorce case. As we've previously reported, courtroom proceedings in the case have been sealed, along with even basic information usually found in the docket. 

We'll let you know what happens ... maybe. I mean, on the advice of our attorney, I couldn't even tell you about anything the Scaifes' attorneys may have filed in response to our requests. Because that stuff, too, could arguably be under seal.

And so it goes.

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