Decline can be met via two means. You can take the route Buffalo, NY or West Virginia and bury your head in the sand; or, you can become proactive and aggressive like Allegheny County. The Home Rule Charter, the creation of County Executive/Council, and even sloppy Property Assessments prove Allegheny County is the most progressive county in Pennsylvania. The hungrier you are, the harder you work; and in the wake of Act 47, 30+ years of population loss, and the Pirates under .500 for a decade, we're damned hungry.
Which leads me to ask, why would anyone stand in the path of the most popular reform to hit the ballot box in 100 years: County Row Office Reform. Passed by a 3 to 1 margin, county voters resoundingly sent Democratic Party cronies in the Row Offices packing. Yet Rich Fitzgerald D-Skew Hill is full of reasons to slow the momentum of this wildly popular, albiet mostly symbolic, reform. "Well, can't vote on this until we find out if reforms can be passed more than once every 5 years," or, "We should wait to see if the first reforms worked," stammers a shell of a man, Fitzgerald. "I'm a party lap-dog... but then again, what Squirrel Hill politician isn't?"
Dan Onorato, the great hope of the Democratic Party, will find himself painted with the same brush as party acolytes like Fitzgerald, O'Connor and Flaherty if he doesn't reign in the County Democrats. Unfortunately it's hard to drive the party from the minority progressive faction, especially while jerks like Fitzgerald are hell-bent on throwing the brakes.