Mayor-elect Ed Gainey’s dubious policy proposals

Mayor-elect Ed Gainey’s dubious policy proposals

Ed Gainey is the mayor-elect of Pittsburgh. He’ll take office in January. The Democrat comes to the top city post by way of the state House of Representatives.

But a review of his many dubious public policy proposals suggests the new boss will be a lot like the string of liberal old bosses who preceded him. And that’s not encouraging.

Let’s take a look at a few of them, in the general order that they were presented on his campaign website; it’s all that’s required to make our point:

The incoming mayor begins well enough with his policy preamble, talking about how “when we all lay our heads down at night, we all share the same vision for our families, our children and our neighborhoods. We all want a city where everyone can earn a living, afford a good home and feel safe in our neighborhoods.”

Who doesn’t? But how we get there is where the now mayor-elect runs right off the rails of sound public policy.

To wit, Gainey warns that “vital services like our water system are under threat of being sold to for-profit corporations.”

Never mind the disaster of the politically controlled, favor-peddling and kitty-raiding Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority. Never mind the great operational, maintenance and price-point successes of private companies running such systems not only nationwide but in Greater Pittsburgh. And never mind that private companies must abide by the same regulatory strictures that government-owned water systems must.

“(D)evelopers are kicking us out of our homes,” Gainey bemoans, an obvious reference to the four-letter word that “gentrification” is not. He calls for – nay, demands – “affordable housing.”

That’s code for “subsidized housing,” whether it be through strong-arming developers to provide a certain percentage of “affordable homes” per project or the government forcing it through “inclusionary zoning.”

And the record is clear – it’s a failure.

As a Reason Foundation white paper concluded a few years back, such practices do exactly what Gainey and the anti-“gentrification” crowd attack:

“Inclusionary zoning has failed to produce a significant number of affordable homes due to the incentives” – or should we say “disincentives” to build – “created by the price controls. Even the few inclusionary zoning units produced have cost builders, homeowners and governments greatly.

“By restricting the supply of new homes and driving up the price of both newly constructed market-rate homes and the existing stock of homes, inclusionary zoning makes housing less affordable,” the think tank noted.

“If more affordable housing is the goal, governments should pursue policies that encourage the production of new housing,” Reason scholars concluded, not discourage it.

Why would anyone seek to perpetuate such a demonstrably failed public policy cycle?

As John Stossel often has reminded, the excoriated price increases that come with “gentrification” are “often accompanied by drops in crime, new job opportunities and better connections to the rest of the culture.”

“What the left calls ‘gentrification’” is often called ‘improvement’ by people who live there,” Stossel noted.

Yet Gainey is not shy about the cudgel he will raise to command this kind of failure and other guaranteed “progressive” failures:

“It’s time to be intentional about spreading wealth and growing our city,” he says. But “spreading wealth,” in the Gainey vision, is nothing more than government-dictated wealth redistribution.

Additionally, out of one side of his policy portfolio, Gainey decries the government “economic development infrastructure” that pursues “corporate giants with sweetheart deals and tax giveaways.”

That’s great; there’s no place for corporate wealthfare in sound public policy.

But out of the other side of that bag, Gainey seeks a government-created and -controlled “centralized fund” filled by those very developers seeking/receiving corporate wealthfare.

Which is it, Mr. Mayor-elect?

Gainey also says he will push for something he calls “labor peace agreements,” perhaps better known as “project labor agreements” in public projects. But that’s nothing more than organized labor’s demands – typically grossly inflated wages and other taxpayer-financed goodies — be met in return for not striking.

It’s extortion, pure and simple, and it has no place in sound public policy. Private individuals attempting the same thing would face felony charges, for goodness sake.

Gainey also regurgitates just about every guiding fiction of the ecocratic agenda as something of a perpetual economic development generator. Never mind that it’s the pure fantasy of the drivel of unserious public policy makers.

And, incredibly, Gainey blames (directly and by proxy) the over-spending, supposedly cash-strapped and under-achieving Pittsburgh Public Schools (over which he has no purview) on “major [nonprofit] institutions dodging taxes and a lack of leadership in Harrisburg on school district funding.”

Never – ever – has a greater shibboleth been foisted on the taxpaying public.

So, there you have it, a putrid potpourri of just a few of the public policy prescriptions of incoming Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. It’s not merely poor public policy but anathema to what public policy must be.

Pittsburgh taxpayers and the public purse are in for a very long, frustrating and expensive four years.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (