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Letter to the editor: Fairness for whom?

April 16, 2018 GMT

Regarding the article “Allegheny County rule requiring candidates to quit unfair, councilman says”: On May 19, 1998, a ballot question was approved, changing Allegheny County’s form of governance from three county commissioners to a county executive and council.

The preamble and home rule charter transferred substantial power to the citizens with ballot initiative and referendum. However, council stripped our ballot powers with an administrative code that followed, which prohibits a ballot to repeal the county sales tax.

The charter also includes a “resign to run” provision to limit career politicians whom the public loathes. In 2003, a corrupt county council tried to repeal that provision with a ballot question and undertook a countywide political sign campaign to urge a “yes” vote. The signage disclaimer: “Paid for by Democrat & Republican Council members.”

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I researched the disclaimer and found that no political committee was ever formed and no financial reports were filed. The illegal signs tried to influence the outcome of the election but the move was defeated. Two candidates received wrist-slap fines of $250 each.

Now, Councilman Bob Macey is looking for this self-serving “fairness” with other elected officials with a Nov. 6 ballot to let voters decide. “We the people” thought it was fair; we do not want career politicians and adopted this provision in 1998 and voted down the repeal in 2003.

I pleaded for “fairness,” requesting a ballot on the fate of the Civic Arena. Council remained stiff-lipped and silent and we lost a historic landmark. Honesty and integrity is lacking. It is time to change our form of governance again.

Gary J. English

Penn Hills