Calling out the Allegheny Conference

Calling out the Allegheny Conference

As ol’ Bobby Dylan sang a long time ago when he wore a younger man’s clothes, “The times, they are a-changin’.”

And now the folk-pop adage a half-century ago appears to finally have caught up with the now mostly irrelevant and long long-in-the tooth Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

In a blistering indictment of a once iconic organization, the Post-Gazette reports that CNX Resources Corp., an offshoot of another legendary corporation, CONSOL, will leave the conference next month.

It cites CNX’s “serious concerns about the trajectory and future of the organization.”

Well, it’s about time one of the region’s leading industrial powerhouses said so. Let’s see who has the guts to follow CNX.

The P-G report indicates that CNX’s discontent has been festering for nearly a full year. It quotes a December 2018 letter from CNX boss Nicholas Deluliis to Allegheny Conference Chairman Bill Demchak, also the head of PNC Bank.

Deluliis said the conference had chosen a course that “marginalizes energy and manufacturing as foundational, necessary components of our future socio-economic success” and a “lack of transparency on key efforts with the conference agenda.” 

And that was just the beginning of the Allegheny Conference’s long overdue evisceration:

The conference “seems to place higher importance on getting along with certain interests or ideological factions than it does confronting and taking principled positions on the most pressing issues of the day,” Deluliis wrote nearly a year ago.

“To view energy and manufacturing as ‘old economy’ or simply a necessary evil and short-term bridge to something better is not only wrong, but insulting to thousands in this region.”

And, we must add, scientifically delusional.

“CNX cannot justify being part of an organization that gently, yet consistently, promotes the marginalization of what we do on behalf of society,” the energy company boss stressed.

Ah, the Deluliis letter explains a lot. It was just this month that the conference, and in rare fashion, took Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to task for his extremist ecocratic views. So, too, did Bill Demchak, speaking for PNC. So, too, did county Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

One can only imagine that the conference (and at least some of its puppet masters) are attempting to grow an 11th-hour backbone to stave off a max exodus of corporate support for the organization.

Reasonable, thinking people should hope that it’s indeed too late. For the nonprofit civic leadership group for decades has been undermined by those seeking to fund their warped visions of “renaissance” and “progress” and “sound environmental stewardship” on taxpayers.

The list is as long as it has been putrid – from the thankfully rejected Regional Renaissance Initiative of more than 20 years ago, to the sheer dishonesty of the failed multibillion-dollar giveaway to Amazon.

The best future for the Allegheny Conference is no future at all. But its demise must not be the end of the story but the beginning of a new organization and a new chapter.

Any new organization must be dedicated to sound economic policies formulated by governments that clearly understand their role is to facilitate growth — and not to engage in the folly of attempting to command it – by imposing the least possible strictures on the economic engines fueled by the industry of those risking their own money in pursuit of profit for the advancement of all.

Any successor organization must not be allowed to succumb to the misguided efforts of those whose behavior, in words and in deeds, attempt to traduce the immutable laws of economics on the road to truncating fundamental liberty.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development has repeatedly proven it is not up to such a task. CNX has acted with decisiveness, not divisiveness, and its example should be emulated by other conference members.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).