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Motion Sickness

Want more efficient government? Then shut up, already.

Elected officials will do just about anything in the name of government efficiency: consolidate fire departments, divvy up road-salt purchasing, privatize services. Oddly, though, no one ever proposes shorter meetings. 

As reporters, government watchdogs and other masochists know, local government meetings often featuring a lengthy presentation of proclamations -- generally non-controversial resolutions honoring local people or institutions. 

Allegheny County Council is a prime example. Its 15 part-time members meet twice a month -- and so far this year, there have been an average of 12 proclamations per meeting. 

And just because a proclamation honoring a Webelos chapter, say, generates little debate, that doesn't mean it will pass quickly. Of the 500-plus pages of transcripts taken in council's first nine regular meetings this year, roughly 100 concern proclamations. That doesn't include breaks for photo ops.

Of course, proclamations often honor local heroes who might otherwise go unsung. And if the rhetoric gets a little overheated -- "Only two people who are truly meant for one another can spend their lives together," read one proclamation celebrating a couple's 60th wedding anniversary -- nobody gets hurt. Except, perhaps, the citizens waiting for action on more pressing issues. 

Among Allegheny County Council's proclamations so far this year:


Proclamation honoring Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC for celebrating its 100th anniversary.

("The hospital has served millions dutifully, respectfully and willingly. It is the pre-eminent women's hospital that organizations worldwide may look to for a model of excellence.")

Proclamation honoring the Borough of Swissvale Police Department, Allegheny County Police Department and the county's 9-1-1 Division of Emergency Services for working collaboratively to manage a Nov. 15, 2010, investigation in Swissvale.

("[B]ecause of the cooperation of the departments and units involved with the investigation, in less than 24 hours after the incident the departments apprehended the apparent shooter, who then provided a full confession.")

Proclamation honoring Jack Wise for his career of service to Allegheny County's Redevelopment Authority and Economic Development.

("[T]alented and dedicated citizens in Allegheny County improve our community's well-being through their commitment to our area.")

Proclamation honoring the employees of Allegheny County's Department of Public Works for their timely and efficient response to the Feb. 21 snowstorm. 

("[B]ecause of the quick response to the storm, Allegheny County residents were able to travel, resume daily activities and get to work without hazardous conditions presenting danger.")

Proclamation recognizing the community service of Bon-Ami Temple No. 49 and naming March 26, 2011, as "Bon-Ami Temple No. 49 Day" in Allegheny County. 

("[O]ur county is fortunate to have individuals and organizations dedicated to improving the community's quality of life through worthy endeavors.")

Proclamation honoring the Boyce Park Ski Patrol for assisting in maintaining the safety and security of patrons of the Boyce Park Ski Slope. 

("WHEREAS, in January, the park's ski lift malfunctioned three times, stranding skiers and snowboarders; and WHEREAS, the Boyce Park Ski Patrol successfully and efficiently assisted the patrons from the stagnant lifts to safety; through each lift breakdown, the ski patrol acted calmly and confidently, allaying panic …")

Proclamation honoring the 25th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. 

("[T]he center ‘s five supercomputers, Big Ben, Pople, Salk, Codon and Warhol, are each capable of processing monumental amounts of information at unfathomable speeds; Big Ben, for example, processed 20-trillion operations per second when it functioned at full capacity.")

Proclamation honoring the Rankin family of Brackenridge Borough for displaying heroic actions during a fire on Feb. 8, 2011.

("[B]efore professional responders reach an emergency scene, citizens, and occasionally pets, must act to avoid catastrophe and save lives. …Hero began barking persistently at her owner, Wendy Rankin, in the early morning hours of February 8th; Wendy stayed awake with the unsettled pet as her anxiety continued, and after a few moments the Rankin's kitchen engulfed in flames …")

Proclamation honoring Valerie McDonald Roberts for her service to Allegheny County and for receiving the Women in Business Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times. 

("Allegheny County employees lead by excellence and set professional examples that others in our area may follow.")

Proclamation naming May 2011 as "Motorcycle Awareness Month" in Allegheny County.

("Allegheny County citizens should recognize the importance and necessity of motorcycle safety so all motorists and passengers may enjoy safe highways.")

Proclamation commending Pittsburgh Public Schools for hosting the 13th annual "Take Your Father to School Day." 

("The board's initiative to involve father figures in children's lives will benefit our community and greatly enhance future generations.")

Certificates of Achievement honoring the Mount Lebanon High School girls' basketball team for winning the PIAA AAAA championship.

("The team's indelible contributions to Allegheny County's long legacy of sports champions are to be commended.")

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