When Auditor Jack Wagner was asked what action of his past of his he most regretted, he said it was voting to give the same revenue to cyber charter schools as to brick-and-mortar schools. At the very least, we should separate the funding of charter schools into two segments: one for providing child care, which would go only the brick-and-mortar schools, and one for providing education alone, which would go to both cyber and brick-and-mortar schools.
They should start with the buses that drive through congested traffic and are seldom on time. The P1 has its own roadway and is almost always on time.
So, Republicans appoint one "Democrat" and one Republican who want to break the union and/or break transit, and we're screwed.
I wish rural counties paid for and controlled their own rural roads, and let us pay for and control our own transit. When I lived in Johnstown and Windber, I mostly traveled on state highways. The state should allocate all funding, whether for roads or transit, as a direct match to muncipal and county funding. Then, other than requiring engineering standards, it should butt out.
The city has been struggling between two approaches to economic development - the subsidy approach and the land shifting approach. The subsidy approach, championed by Mayor Caliguiri, Mayor Tom Murphy and Councilman Bill Peduto, invariably gives money to big corporations (who have staff people sniffing around for subidies) at the expense of local businesses.
The tax-shifting approach, championed by Council Presidents Bill Coyne, Robert Rade Stone and Jack Wagner, and by Mayor Sophie Masloff, reduced taxes on all buildings and all wages, and increased the taxes on the value of land. This actually gave land-efficient small businesses a competitive advantage over big-box stores and other large corporate holdings.
We lost the land value tax due to corrupt county assessing and retaliation against a whistle-blower who got some assessment-board members indicted. She had a seniority of 83, so the surviving board hired Sabre Sytems to privatize assessing and lay of 85 assessors.
If County Executive Rich Fitzgerald gets the land assessments straightend out, we can return to the tax-shifting approach and have economic revival without giving the city away to big corporations.
I have followed City Council closely, and as much as I find Peduto calculating in his political correctness and disappointing in his penchant for corporate welfare subsidies, I find Rudiak to be candid, courageous and straightforward, taking on issues in a very genuine way.
Shadyside has 1700 bus trips per week, about the same as Oakland, and more than any other place in the city outside of the Golden Triangle. Yet it is illegal to build a residential unit in either place without providing a parking space, and illegal to build large units without multiple spaces for each unit.
That's really, really dumb. To make it even dumber, the city waves one car space if the builder provides bicycle spaces in the garage, as if people want to trust good bicycles to public garages when they can just bring them indoors.
They could have just eliminated the parking requirements and charged for street parking, with the revenue going directly to a Shadyside or Oakland Improvement District, but the zoning board never lets go, and the people who already park free in these neighborhoods would rather keep other people out than pay something themselves - even if the money went back to their own community.
People talk a green game, but nobody wants to make the sensible tough decisions that might antagonize someone.
Since you are tying this into the mayor's race:
The right way to "go green" is by taxing resource consumption and pollution, not by subsidizing technologies whose only merit is that they will "pollute less." Subsidies cause people do consume more energy, while taxes on energy cause them to consume less.
The greenest, most sustainable form of energy is human energy, and Jack Wagner is the only candidate who lowered the wage tax, a tax on human energy. He also shifted the property tax onto land values, which not only saves money for most home owners, but encourages the efficient use of land. It is endorsed by the Green Parties of the United States, Canada, Scotland, England, and other countries.
Peduto voted to repeal the land value tax. To be fair, he did this in the face of the county's truly awful land value assessments, but he did nothing to challenge those assessments. To be fair again, doing so would put him in a bind, because the core of his council district (Shadyside and Squirrel Hill) are the most under-assessed wards in the city.
Peduto talks a good green game, but when it came to greening Pittsburgh's tax system, Wagner didn't just talk about it; he did it. He has also been campaigning on making Pittsburgh's assessments honest.
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