(I stole this post in its entirety with permission from Bram Reichbaum of the excellent Pittsburgh Comet blog. If you link to this post from your blog, make sure to credit Bram not me! – Jon)
Since RAD and the Port Authority share an attorney, the board of RAD is paying an outside lawyer $275 an hour to figure out whether it can fund Port Authority transitand thus avert the collapse of a fragile deal between the workers and state government.
The total legal bill should come to about $70 or a long liquid lunch.
All the Port Authority would have to do is to qualify as a “civc asset” in the minds of the RAD board itself, which is not remotely a stretch as these things go. Interpretable phrasing is there to interpret.
Some board members evidently felt the need to ask for a legal opinion either to provide them with political cover for making that leadership decision, or else drag this out further so as to continue poisoning the well against the deal.
There are three camps opposed to using the $3M in RAD money to leverage $30M from the state:
1) Ideologues to the political right of Tom Corbett who believe the biggest problem here is that the Port Authority is “addicted to money,” who instead of supporting the compromise struck with the Governor would rather lock the Agency in a cell, starve and humiliate it until it dies, and replace it with something more private and less unionized.
2) Politicians who aren’t wild about Rich Fitzgerald strutting around like he owns the joint, appointing notable crazy ladies to key advisory panels and saying “green this” and “I agree with my friend from the East End” that.
3) Folks who are anxious that transit funding should not diminish support for cultural organizations, and may be susceptible to “slippery slope” arguments involving long-term commitments, water treatment plants and parking garages.
Group #1 obviously can’t get its job done by itself. Group #2 is happy to support Group #1′s work in stirring up taxpayer outrage and popular chaos (more mentions of the drink tax, please!) at least up until the point where transit actually explodes. But in dealing with the RAD board, on which Fitzgerald has the upper hand, neither can really gain traction unless they involve Group #3.
Hence the need for more time to wage more back room campaigns and manufacture more news stories which include the word “tax,” as though they’re being raised somewhere. The notoriously secretive “ripcord” clause in the new Port Authority contract can only be so hard to activate, right?