Monday, April 16, 2007

Unprofessional City: A Study in Progressive Thought

District 12 in County Council is up for grabs this election. But contestants for the seat are so polite that the race has turned into a snore. Who benefits from such a bore... surely not the blogger attempting to craft an interesting story from such a snoozer. But the voters of the 12th will surely win from this one.

The reason for the apathy is rather understandable; these guys will be paid precious little to sit on County Council. Even if County Council is a patronage mill (the mere presence of John DeFazio makes it suspect), payoffs are small enough to skate under the omniscient eye of the PG. This is truly a pursuit of public service, one that harkens back to the earliest days of our republic's original citizen-legislature. The candidates, highly regarded professionals in their own right, promise superior representation regardless of the winner.

Compare the credentials of a Lawyer and Financial Manager (respectively) against District 12's counterpart in City Council's District 4: Jimmy Motznik. Half-wit Jim failed out of RMU's Hotel Management program in the mid '90s, and decided to do what any self-respecting ditch-digger or Con Artist does in Pittsburgh: Run for City Council. Need more? Compare County Council, which is relatively innovative and capable, to City Council, which serves partly as a bullpen for Mayors-In-Waiting and partly as an attache of DPW's AFSCME Union negotiating division. When 'Full-Time Professional City Council' transilates into 'Professional Politician,' one realizes that a 'Professionalized' public servant isn't always the best thing.

We would be better served by a volunteer City Council of every-day citizen: A common-sense check to the absurdity of the mayor's office and union pressure groups. Council members would be less beholden to special interests and money. The loser of an election doesn't lose his job, he or she just takes Tuesday night council meetings off their calendar. As for better 'constituent services,' beef up the Mayor's Service Center. 311 is a great program when staffed by more than 1 ineffectual flunkie. Without a paid council, we might be able to afford a dozen or more, and put two or three more cops on the street. If that doesn't work, add two more councilmen! They're free, right?

If nothing else, I would happily replace any of the seated city councilmembers with either Bill Lestitian or Jim Ellenbogen. At least they don't embezzle money/punch cops at their daughter's softball games/ wear swamp boots to work/ lose their nuts before a mayoral primary even gets underway...

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