Thursday, April 21, 2005

P.G.'s Editorial Review Meeting, recap by new press secretary

Tim's recap of the PG Meeting. On his first hours on the new job, Tim and I went to the Blvd and into the PG's main conference room.

On Tuesday, April 19, 2005, State Senate hopeful, Mark Rauterkus, 45, Libertarian, participated in the Pittsurgh Post-Gazette's Editorial Board meeting with competing candidates, Republican Michael Diven and Democratic Wayne Fontana.

The meeting was the first instance that all three up for PA Senate joined in the same meeting. Jack Wagner vacated the seat to serve in another office, PA Auditor General, so a special election is slated on May 17, 2005, the same day as the primary election.

In the one-hour meeting, covered by a news reporter and photographer as well as attended by more than five from the PG, every candidate was given an opportunity to present his background, his reasons for being qualified for the job and describe two important issues that would be addressed during service to the state as a senator.

Rauterkus spoke on his dedication to community issues and the leadership he has gained from diverse experiences such as coaching swimming and publishing books.

Rauterkus distinguished himself on two different issues: the elimination of authorities and merging the city and county with parks as the next logical area for effective govermental and citizen actions.

Rauterkus noted that authorities are undemocratic institutions often governed by those who may not be most suited for the job, but are there due to some political favor. “Across Pennsylvania, government authorities try to solve problems, but usually make things wrose and serve the well-connected. Those that can’t be eliminated must be made more open and accountable to those they serve and to the taxpayer.”

Rauterkus also spoke on his progressive idea of merging the city and county park system, plus dealing with afterschool activities in facilities owned by school districts. This merger would be patterned on the state of Illinois’ acclaimed system which includes citizen service in the management of the parks. Such a merger would “put democracy at the forefront” and help the system improve. The state of Illinois currently has more than 2,100 elected citizens serving without compensation on governing boards.

Fontana began and discussed his background as a county council member and his focus on property taxes, mass transit and medical costs. All of the candidates gave comments on each topic.

Diven spoke on his experience in Harrisburg and his ideas about a downtown office building that would consolidate city, county and school district administration offices. Diven's program calls for the creation of another authority, and a $300-million finance deal ($50-M for Pittsburgh). Rauterkus raised strong objection to the new Diven plan calling it a potential final nail in the coffin for Pittsburgh. Diven's program for blighted properties within the city caught the distain from Rauterkus with the clincher that properties would be sold for $1 each to insiders based on highest and best use -- not competitive bidding.

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