In Bill Peduto’s environment

In Bill Peduto’s environment

As the outrageousness of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s public policy proclivities continue to sink in – think of his newfound opposition to offshoot shale gas jobs-producing and economy-boosting industries – the succinct observation of the late, great curmudgeonly contrarian H.L. Mencken comes to mind.

You’ll recall that Peduto, in opposing petrochemical industry expansion, cribbed the historical quote about people choosing “false hope over no hope every time.”

But, as ol’ H.L. reminded, “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-front for the urge to rule it.”

The Issues & Insights (I &I) website, staffed by former editors and writers on the now-defunct editorial pages of Investor’s Business Daily, used a variation of that quote to illuminate the ecocrats’ latest cause – to “stabilize” then “gradually reduce” global population “with a framework that ensures social integrity.”

Whew!

That proposition can be found in the journal Bioscience. More than 11,000 scientists worldwide propose the population be controlled, methodology undefined.

As the I & I editorial asked, “By what authority do these scientists believe they have a right to reduce the number of humans? And through what mechanism do they propose to use to reach their goal?”

Given that Bill Peduto pretty much signs on to every save-the-planet craze, will he sign on to such an eyebrow-arching proposal? It’s hardly an outlandish question given this mayor’s lockstep recitations.

Well, Mr. Mayor, will this be your next “public policy” proposal?

City of Pittsburgh voters may well have purchased a pig in a poke last Tuesday, adopting a measure that will raise their property taxes by $50 for each $100,000 of assessed value.

To put the ballot-casting into better perspective, 26 percent of the electorate made the decision. The annual proceeds, estimated to be about $10 million, will be used to care for parks. Private foundations supposedly will match that money.

City Council already has begun discussing the enabling legislation to administer the amendment to the home rule charter.

And while one of the many objections to the tax is that public money will be handed over to an unelected (and, thus, unaccountable) nonprofit, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, it’s already evident that the council will have a clear (if not machination-filled) say over disbursements.

Of course, there’s another facet to Pittsburghers’ latest attempt to tax themselves to renaissance: What strings will Mayor Peduto attempt to pull in the coming disbursement debate? What over the top “green” diktats (even for these green spaces) will he attempt to attach as conditions for receiving taxpayer dollars?

Which conveniently brings us to another quote, this time from one of Peduto’s self-confessed heroes, the late-great urbanologist Jane Jacobs.

Reminded Jacobs, addressing city parks in her seminal “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”:

“Conventionally, neighborhood parks or park-like open spaces are considered boons conferred on the deprived populations of cities. … (T)urn this thought around and consider city parks deprived places that need the boon of life conferred on them.

“This is more nearly in accord with reality, for people do confer use on parks and make them successes — or else withhold use and doom parks to rejection and failure.”

Or, put another way, as Jacobs did in the same book:

“People do not use city open space just because it is there and because city planners or designers wish they would.”

Thus, the operative question: Will Peduto’s command-and-control style of economic “development” and environmental extremism be a boon to the parks and the populace or a quite expensive centrally planned bane?

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