Questioning Ed Gainey’s proposed public policies

Questioning Ed Gainey’s proposed public policies

State Rep. Ed Gainey won the Democrats’ May primary for mayor of Pittsburgh, defeating two-term incumbent Bill Peduto. Sans a successful write-in candidacy from someone else in the November general election, Gainey will become the city’s next, and first black, mayor.

But we have considerable questions about the mayoral policies he will attempt to bring to Grant Street. We have a window on some of those policies based on his publicly posted campaign platform. And we are not encouraged.

Says Gainey: “City investments and strong unions gave previous generations of Pittsburghers an opportunity to succeed, but today we’re failing to use the tools of city government to lift up working people … .”

What “tools” will he employ? Will it be a heavy “progressive” cudgel of evermore onerous regulation that, with increased compliance costs, reduce employment opportunities?

Says Gainey: “Vital public services like our water system are under threat of being sold to for-profit corporations … .”

Does he consider “profit” a four-letter word? Does he not understand the pursuit of profits can result in greater cost efficiencies that can lower utility costs? Does he not understand that whether “owned” by government or a private company, the rates charged for the conveyance of water are regulated by the state Public Utility Commission?

Says Gainey: “(O)ur major employers are paying us poverty wages … .”

Does he not understand that wages are based on skill set and productivity or that entry-level jobs are designed to give employees the experience necessary to advance to higher-paying jobs?

Says Gainey: “It’s time to be intentional about spreading wealth and growing our city, and we have the tools to do it.”

What does he mean by “spreading the wealth”? Does it mean by making sure all have an equal opportunity to acquire wealth through personal industry? Or does it mean wielding that “progressive” cudgel of forced “equity” that is nothing more than socialistic wealth redistribution – creating “equity” with somebody else’s money?

Says Gainey: “Rather than an ad-hoc approach to workforce development that’s different on every major project, (I’ll) will work with our regional workforce development agencies to create a centralized fund that all developers and businesses seeking public subsidy will be required to contribute to.”

But why grant public subsidies to private businesses at all? Have we not learned any lessons in Pittsburgh with be-all and end-all publicly subsidized projects that have given us flaccid economic and job growth for decades?

Says Gainey: “A Gainey administration will create new public-sector opportunities for good jobs in public service, work with public employee unions to create great services … .”

Does Gainey not understand that “growing” public-sector jobs is anathema to cost-effective government? Does he not understand that public employee unions unnecessarily, unfairly (and even immorally) raise the cost of public services — and more so to lower-income Pittsburghers?

Says Gainey: “(I) will use the leverage of the city’s planning process to demand community benefit agreements, labor peace agreements. …. “

Does he not understand that “community benefit agreements” are nothing more than extortive shakedowns that raise the cost of economic development, sometimes to the point that it’s not worth the private investment? Does he not understand that “labor peace agreements” are nothing more than unionized extortion that also unnecessarily raise costs and retard economic growth?

Says Gainey: He’s “committed to making Pittsburgh a model for bridging the false divide between the environmental and labor movements and demonstrating how the renewable energy and sustainable construction sectors can help us combat climate change while creating good union jobs, building healthy and affordable housing, and growing our regional economy.”

Does he not understand the false narrative he proffers of using cost-inflated labor to build unsustainable “green” energy?

Says Gainey: “(I) will work with allies in Harrisburg to secure fairer funding for urban school districts.”

Though Gainey would have no direct control of city schools as mayor, what is “fair” about Pittsburgh Public Schools spending an extraordinarily high amount per pupil – one of the highest, if not the highest in the state – and producing extraordinarily low results that, in some metrics, continue to drop?

Says Gainey: “(I believe) that everyone deserves access to public transit no matter what neighborhood they live in. “(I’ll) work with allies in Harrisburg to secure fairer funding for urban mass transit systems.”

But will he also at the same time call out the fiscal boondoggle that is the excessive cost of Port Authority bus service?

Yes, questions abound over the kinds of public policies that Ed Gainey would bring to the Pittsburgh mayor’s office. But given that he has proposed so many that are so antithetical to effective and limited governance suggests the new boss would differ very little from the old boss.

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