Notes on the state of things

Notes on the state of things

It’s not good news for the EVC (Electric Vehicle Caucus) in Pittsburgh:

Citing the general unreliability of EV garbage trucks, the city is doubling down on its fleet of trucks powered by compressed natural gas.

Pittsburgh has been operating 10 such garbage trucks and will take delivery on 10 more this month.

As the Tribune-Review reports it:

“City officials have said city isn’t ready to make the jump to electric refuse trucks because of lengthy charging times and limits on how far the vehicles can travel before needing to charge again.”

Oh, there is that.

But then there’s also this:

Most government jurisdictions contract out with private firms for the provision of refuse collection.

As we’ve noted for nearly 30 years, privatizing that service in Pittsburgh would be more efficient and more than likely save taxpayers money.

Additionally, it would break organized labor’s stranglehold on the delivery of such services. As we (and others) have noted recently, union contracts build in inefficiencies instead of looking for ways to make refuse collection more efficient.

And you will recall that a past attempt to outsource garbage collection was so poison-pilled by union acolytes in political power that such outsourcing was rendered useless.

But that’s long been Pittsburgh, hasn’t it?

Of course, it has been, as recent talk of privatizing water services was similarly poison-pilled.

Speaking of Pittsburgh’s predilection to poison-pilling, the sad saga of Conturo Prototyping, a North Point Breeze tech company, is the latest in a long line of a city agency engaging public policy nonfeasance.

As the Post-Gazette reports it, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh has scotched a proposal by Conturo to take over the vacant Homewood Coliseum.

Conturo, which manufactures parts for autonomous vehicles and robots, proposed turning the facility into a what the P-G describes as “a state-of-the-art headquarters for [its] 32 employees inside the URA-owned facility while providing dedicated space for workforce development and vocational training.”

“In an effort to address community desires, [it] offered to set aside a portion of the space for recreational use or for an affordable storefront,” the P-G notes.

“But in rejecting his proposal as well as another that proposed turning the coliseum into an entertainment venue, URA officials said they wanted to work with the administration of Mayor Ed Gainey to find a use that was more in line with what the community wanted.”

And that left Conturo Prototyping owner John Conturo scratching his head:

“This isn’t a priority for them. That’s the craziest part. Jobs don’t matter frankly. I don’t know what matters to them,” he told the P-G. “We’re ripe for growth. We have more demand than capacity. If I had the coliseum, I would fill it with workers and machines in a year.”

So, what’s a savvy entrepreneur to do? Why, go where you’re welcome.

Conturo is pulling up his stakes in Pittsburgh and moving to spaces in Wilkinsburg and Westmoreland County.

Which only further convinces us that “URA” stands for “Urban Regressive Authority.”

How tragic that policies proffered by these government-knows-best types invariably lead to government-dictated dysfunction that retards economic growth.

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