Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Libertarians kicking the merger matters

The Libertarian Party of Pittsburgh is chatting and pondering an official position on the city/county merger issue. Some basics follow:
We're in favor of any increase in government efficiency and decrease in size -- as long as it's an integral part of the process, not a hopefully-some-day projection.

For example, if a consolidation plan were to reduce taxes (as part of the enabling legislation) or reduce the number of government employees (again, as part of the
enabling legislation) that might be encouraging. But we do not support consolidation plans which would rewrite the relationship between Allegheny County governments which would not include any actual mechanisms for improving efficiency and reducing size.

One example would be an explicit cap on the number of government employees as a fraction of population.

Given the unfortunate history of the region, for example the involuntary annexation of Allegheny City by Pittsburgh, and the subsequent decline of the annexed area, we strongly oppose any involuntary annexations or changes in government.

Given the degree of detail available so far from proponents of consolidation, we do not believe the plans are clear enough to warrant a referendum in November of 2008.

Advocates of the merger are not proposing to put the question on the November 2008 ballot, but to continue promoting the idea for at least a year and a half, and to put it on the ballot only when they think they have enough support to pass it.

Who are the experts on the merger with the city and former Allegheny City? Who can speak with authority on how it was an improper merger and bad for Allegheny City? Leave a note in the comments if you are that person or can point us to an expert.

The gist of the controversy is that the state had quietly passed a law allowing the merger if a majority of residents in the combined municipalities had allowed it. Before that (and again after that), separate majorities in each jurisdiction were required. (Birmingham had merged with the city prior to this, and several other southern municipalities had merged afterward. I believe that none of these
other mergers were "forced.")

For an overview of the Allegheny City question, see:,_Pennsylvania

The Allegheny City Society would be a good place to start, but with some caution, as it appears to be populated by pro-development establishment types who might be friendly to the proposal.
The issue of consolidation can be talked about in the context of the stadium referendum in which the voters were ignored. It is part of a pattern of conquest, not only of the city and county over smaller municipalities, but of subsidy-sucking corporate elites over the taxpayer.

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