The Pittsburgh mayor’s SPC failings

The Pittsburgh mayor’s SPC failings

One of the necessary ingredients to make representative government functional is robust representation. But a Post-Gazette story suggests that a key public representative on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is falling far short.

The commission is a consortium of 10 counties and the City of Pittsburgh. Its appointed members work to prioritize how state and federal dollars can best be used for regional infrastructure projects.

But the P-G says the participation of city’s lead representative on not only the board at large but its executive committee, the mayor of Pittsburgh, leaves much to be desired. In fact, the mayor is said to have the second-worst attendance record of the influential executive committee.

Word of this troubling participation, or lack thereof, comes at a time when the mayor has been stressing the need to fix the city’s crumbling bridge infrastructure in the aftermath of the January 2022 Fern Hollow Bridge collapse.

The city just recently closed another major span, the Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge. And the “City of Bridges” has many more spans in need of significant remediation.

Worse, the P-G reminds that shortly after the Fern Hollow collapse, the mayor appeared to blame the SPC for not funding the city’s priority infrastructure needs.

But if he has been generally AWOL from the commission’s meetings (and, just as generally, not sending a representative in his stead), how can he point such a finger?

He can’t.

And it smacks of seeking to deflect his and prior mayoral administrations’ failures to deal with Pittsburgh’s infrastructure mess by constantly kicking cans down the road.

But the larger issue here is one of a failure to represent the people this mayor has been elected to serve. And projecting one’s own failures on others isn’t flattering at all.

The public – those who elected this mayor and those who did not – should have every expectation that he do his job. That, at least in this case, he has not, should give everyone cause to pause.

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