Policies (or lack thereof) have consequences

Policies (or lack thereof) have consequences

From the email inbox:

Writing in response to “Pittsburgh’s costly and counterproductive sick leave law” (Policy Brief Vol. 17, No. 27), a local business offered its insight into the cost of the mandatory law recently upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

“We are a (business) in the city with 25 employees.  A quick math calculation – 8 hours x $25 = $200 per day x 5 days = $1,000 per employee x 25 employees = $25,000. 

“We currently provide a very good UPMC medical policy to all employees and their families.  The company pays 75 percent; the employee 25 percent.

“There are two family owned (businesses of our type) within the city; the remaining … are in outlying communities without this burdensome cost.

“If we could move our facility out of the city, we would be gone tomorrow.  

“Is there no way to fight this??

“In addition, several of the companies with home offices located outside Allegheny County do not charge the RAD (the Regional Asset District piggyback sales tax) on the (product) delivered into Allegheny County.  In some cases, they break the product into material plus delivery.  No tax is charged on the delivery portion.”

Well, and as the Policy Brief noted, the only way to fight this latest in a long line of government-ordered, marketplace-perverting diktats is to hope the Pennsylvania Legislature amends the home rule charter law to disallow any municipalities from enacting regulations not expressly permitted by the state.

Whether state legislators will act remains to be seen.

The Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) is back in the news on two fronts. And each raises serious questions about how the SEA does business.

The SEA, which, on behalf of the public, owns not only the three professional sports complexes but also the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, had to scramble this past week when it was revealed that its controller has been charged with stealing more than $300,000 from a prior employer.

The Post-Gazette reported that Sharon J. Mink, 43, of Penn Hills, is accused of taking the money from a specialty insurance broker and using the money for, among other things, a Caribbean vacation.

Officials stress that Mink’s alleged crimes – theft, receiving stolen property and forgery – have nothing to do with the SEA. That said, the authority placed Mink on unpaid leave and has brought in the auditors to make sure nothing is amiss in its shop.

That, of course, is a prudent move. But it raises two other questions: How well was Mink vetted prior to her February 2017 hiring, the same month Mink left the insurance brokerage? And when was the SEA tipped off by her old company of the alleged crime?

Also this month, the SEA announced it will spend about $1.9 million to replace roofs at the convention center, roofs that have leaked habitually since its 2003 opening.

The SEA won a $1.86 million settlement in 2011 to repair some of the leaks, the P-G recounts, which also notes there’s been no resolution as to how to fix leaks through cables used to support the center.

And that raises still another question for the SEA: How well was the original design vetted? Sixteen years of chronic leaks suggests not very well.

Why is it that sound public policy and due diligence too often diverge?

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