Sunday, February 12, 2006

Turning back the clock on past stances.

I wrote in one of my recent statements, "It was the Pittsburgh Public School's Board of Education (nine elected members) that ended the COKE OVEN threat in Hazelwood. I was there with GASP saying no.

Then a person emailed me to say:

I have to say, I was for that project. Sun Oil's emission standards surpassed the EPA's. That plant was eventually built in Ohio and cost $1 billion dollars. The very kind of jobs we need in Pgh/AC.
The School Board was able to kill the deal because SUN OIL wanted a tax break. The School Board could NOT have stopped the building of the plant. But, the building of the plant, without them paying what they should have paid in terms of taxes was what did them in.

I like jobs. I like industry. I like it when folks build things here. But, come and work and earn a profit and pay your share of taxes. Don't ask for a handout so that the kids get robbed. The plant was seeking to pay less to the school district, pay less to the city, pay less to the county. That's the nature of the tax break. That is what the TIF was about.

Recently, a lot of second guessing has been made of two other bigger deals in Western PA. The Sony plant that made flat screen TVs down the Mon Valley and the auto plant where they used to make VWs. In both instances, big tax breaks were given and jobs were produced. But, as the tax breaks come to an end -- the plants shut down.

We've been played for suckers time and time again. Industry or even executive buildings want to build here -- if there is a tax break. We need to bribe them to build. PNC Firstide needed a T-stop and a Parking Garage. PNC Plaza needs $30-million grant from the state and a $18-million TIF from the city, school and county.

Enough is enough.

Our schools can't give anything any more. The kids are not learning as they should. Some of our buildings are old and many need major renovations. Other districts are failing much worse -- like Duquesne -- that may need to merge with Pgh. Public Schools.

We can't give anyone a free pass.

When we give away this to one corporation, then we are expected to give away something else to everyone else that enters the scene. Then we give away all this to new arrivals -- and the ones who have to pay are the one's who have been here all along. That just isn't fair.

And, it isn't wise to give tax breaks to a firm like American Eagle Outfitters. They move to the South Side from Warrendale. How smart is it to give them money just to move from 724 to 412? That is our money. That can't be good economics.

We need to be insisting upon sustaining jobs that pull their own weight in terms of taxes and market place successes.

To give something away to firm Z -- you have to take in more from firm X. That isn't fair. That isn't how the marketplace needs to work. That is why we are NOT free. The real growth jobs and growth industries are the ones that are going to make their own marks and profits and do so without handouts and bailouts and tax breaks. Those are the ones we need to move here.

Same too with US Airways and the airport. While US Airways had a lock on the airport we built for them, they provided plenty of jobs. But there was a cost to that in terms of higher tickets we had to pay to fly out of Pittsburgh. We had to create a lot of debt that we still deal with for building the airport. And, when other airlines came in -- US Airways would cut prices to those routes. They had a bit of a monopoly -- and had a lot of perks coming from government.

US Senators and even James Roddey, as were others, were keen on building US Airways its hangars and meeting other demands. Those perks soiled the marketplace and couldn't last forever.

Now we have more airlines into and out of the airport and prices for travel has gone down. Southwest would have never come into the market given the dominance of US Airways and the deals it was cutting with our elected politicians.

We need to shoot for honest, viable business partners who provide value -- without the handouts. I feel that type of business operation is a different breed. And, those folks don't want any part of a landscape that has favorites woven into the pockets of government politicians.

We need a new day where we stick to the basics. Everyone needs to pay what they should. That's the fairness that I crave for Pittsburgh and Southwestern PA for my kids.

Freedoms, Liberty and Justice for ALL -- everyone paying their fair share -- that works for me. That is what I mean when I say, "Liberty XL, One size fits all."

Call me bull-headed -- but call me fair. Extras for friends, wink, wink, -- no thanks.

Thanks for the email.

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