Summertime Mood Light: Party evolution, Budget consensus, and Fuel for the Fire

What have we learned after state Democratic party “infighting”?

The blowing-off of steam and debris subsequent to the nomination of Tom Wolf was as brief as it was beneficial. Let us review what we have learned from this jostling for a spiky chair:

Back when the competition was on, the Comet asked the reigning tyrant, State Party Chair and past Allegheny County Party Chair Jim Burn about the stakes. He replied:

The issue for the committee to decide next Saturday is whether the Party picks it’s leadership from the top down or the bottom up and I will support whatever decision they make in that regard. What is most important to me is that the rank and file whom I serve be the ones making the decision on how they want to move forward. (June 14)

Bottom-up, rank and file. The Comet appreciates that argument. It gets a little convoluted however once one remembers we speak of a “rank and file” among elected and organized Party officials AKA “big shots”, or that McGinty was the choice of Wolf, who was elected by rank and file primary voters AKA “heroes” by a wide margin. More convoluted still if we further remember those heroes were influenced by a muscular television campaign AKA “lots of early money”, but here in support of a very appealing message and bio AKA “stuff”.

Once upon a time it was reported that Congressman Mike Doyle and other local officials were going to settle upon a regional consensus candidate to back for Governor, and it was rumored they were making their minds up between Wolf and McGinty. Then all of a sudden one morning here, it seemed like everybody who once affiliated with Jack Wagner or Luke Ravenstahl came out in support of McCord. Then Peduto dropped the bomb and backed Wolf. Then Michael Lamb and the Firefighters backed McCord. Then Wolf solidified his large early lead. Then the 14th WIDC backed McCord, which was a curveball. Then McCord started raining hellfire.

There is an attractively well-proportioned Venn Diagram of overlap between what might be called the “Old Labor Left” and the “Progressive Activist Left” — the SEIU’s, for example, exert some powerful and effective progressive pressures, while progressives in power have been known to adopt established political constituencies.

Yet McGinty and Wolf track further towards the progressive outlook in any sober analysis.

We would never personally say Jim Burn tracks toward Establishmentarianism so much as is drawn instinctively to a Three-Dimensional Centrism within the Party:

I would like I congratulate Katie on her new position.  She brings a dynamic personality and skill set that will certainly help Tom Wolf as we all move forward.
We in the State Party are happy for Katie and Tom.  We pledge our support and all of our  energy to work with Katie and Tom Wolf to remove Tom Corbett, America’s least popular Governor, from office.
(June 19)


See? Best of all possible worlds. Isn’t this just what Obama did, and what Romney did?

The Campaign for a Fresh Start will drive a column its way, and the Democratic Party will drive a column its own way. The Republingtons will be caught in a hammer and anvil maneuver, routed, seized and scattered until 2018 — by which time they will have adapted, though that still spells a net Democratic advantage owing to differences in the terrain and informatics. That’s high ground for you.


MEANWHILE in storm-torn Pittsburgh, Bastion of Liberals and City of Champions, we foresee what is at stake, and we glimpse hints of a signature harmony of purpose despite old fault lines…

Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday approved a five-year financial plan that includes recommendations to increase the property tax rate to resolve some of the city’s financial woes and borrow $100 million to improve roads, bridges and neglected infrastructure.

Council approved the plan designed by its state-appointed financial overseers, also known as the Act 47 financial recovery coordinators, with a 7-2 vote.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris of Spring Hill and Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood voted against it. (Trib, Bob Bauder; see also P-G)

Rev. Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle must have voted for it. Encouraging!

The “recommendations” portion is just that. It sounds like Council agreed to budget targets. Future conversations will determine how we are going to meet them.

Future conversations which include the ICA. (more)

The ICA can do two things easily to Pittsburgh: it can withhold our share of Casino revenue and it can refuse to approve our annual budget.

The ICA can change one way: if Tom Wolf is our next Governor, then the balance of power upon it will switch to more understanding Democrats by early 2015.

If the ICA changes, casino revenue can be forked back over. Hypothetically with interest or investment gains, to boot.

If the ICA changes, then its rejection of our city’s 2015 annual budget however… what happens if a City of the Second Class fails to properly enact a budget exactly on time? Does it get hauled off to City jail? Or can there be “continuing resolutions”? Either way, a great deal of ideologically-inspired pressure will be alleviated from Pittsburgh very quickly in the case of a Corbett loss.

Things will get verbally raucous this autumn, but whatever.

The ICA may not in the end be inclined to introduce very exotic punitive actions against us this year regardless. Sure, it has been a Legislative hobbyhorse in the past, but Tom Corbett gets us, gets this set of facts, acknowledges a common mission. Remember, Tom is at least half Yinzer on his southron side, and you can vote for him because of it if it makes you happy.

That said, Legislative leadership will not be so graceful in relinquishing its fundamentalist designs.

What else? Over the current flashpoint of property tax deficits and revenue streams, the digging continues.


NONE OF THIS SHOULD DISTRACT YOU from the really important activity.

We are invited to share and inquire about what we need out of a #Next Chief of Police in myriad manners.

We are cautioned about the progress of our School District, which will require persistent attention.

We remember the last round of Land Bank wars, and look forward to another.

We are more than alive to the tech innovation train.

The newspaper of record is pouring energy into whiz-bang immigration storytelling.

We are going to provide better and more efficient urban services through reorganizations. Do not overlook that aspect…

BLOGROLL FOOTNOTE:  A welcome to Eat This, Read That, which notes how “our skeevy, belligerent cousin aht east is an assault on the senses.” The emergence of this new hipster daily will facilitate major paradigm shifts that you probably won’t hear much about.

8 thoughts on “Summertime Mood Light: Party evolution, Budget consensus, and Fuel for the Fire

  1. Hold on

    I think your timeline regarding the Governor candidate endorsements is a bit off. Fitz, Peduto, Doyle and Jay Costa were waiting to see who was building up the most support before endorsing. Once Wolf pulled out to a huge lead, then they made their move: All except Costa ended up with Wolf, while Costa stuck by his guns and supported Schwartz. Precious few local politicos openly endorsed McCord, even after the mass endorsement of Wolf in the courtyard of the County Courthouse.
    McCord had Frank Dermody, Dom Costa and Joe Markosek early, and Lamb eventually endorsed McCord. The 14th Ward and the Stonewall Dems endorsed McCord late, probably as a reaction against Fitz and Peduto. Tony Deluca was with McGinty.

    Prior to the mass endorsement, when Wolf was at 6% and Schwartz was considered the frontrunner, quite a few people normally not associated with Fitz or Peduto, and often backers of the Wagner/Flaherty faction, were lining up with Wolf. Matt Smith, Marc Gergely, Bill Kortz, Jake Wheatley, Dan LaValle and a large phalanx of Mon-Valley mayors and Democratic Chairs. John Weinstein and Steve Zappala were not open with their support, but were working behind the scenes for Wolf.

    Once the mass courthouse endorsement happend, the focus of the Wolf campaign began to be more Fitz-centric; to be honest, Fitz and Peduto did more heavy lifting for Molchany and Michelow than for Wolf – his money (very well spent) won him that primary, not anything resembling a field operation.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Nice expansion of the timeline. Right to note the F-P-D-C-D club wound up split, and thank you for the reminders pertaining to both Wheatley / Lavelle and Stonewall Dems. Though I’d never heard that Peduto/Fitz did “heavy lifting” for Mich.

  2. Richie Rich

    Frank Dermody, Dom Costa ,Joe Markosek , Mike Lamb The 14th Ward and the Stonewall Democrats and Tony Deluca are all OBSTRUCTIONISTS!!! Look out….

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Rep. Dermody, just now: 2014 Republican budget proposal is $1.7 billion unbalanced because of bad budgets in ’11, ’12 and ’13. “It’s more of the same old, failed, tired ideas.” Cites voter suppression, lottery privatization, local zoning preemption and gay marriage obstruction as huge and extremely ideological wastes of money. “No matter what the problem, the answer is sell this, privatize that, and take money away from education.” Cites that “the 39 states” that have invested in education have recovered.

      “It’s time for all of us to open our eyes, look around at what’s working in other states, and change the direction that we’re going.”

      Charming obstructionist!

      1. Anonymous

        The dots most often don’t connect in some weird conspiracy theory. Most often people just support who they think will win and who they are closest with (not necessarily due to policy, but just who they think they can get the most from). Wolf is case in point. Isn’t it odd that the alleged new champion of progressive politics is a millionaire (many times over) white guy business owner of a non-union company who inherited the business from his father and who has zero women on his board or leadership positions in his company. Look, that doesn’t mean he is a bad guy. He might be a great guy and he spent a lot of money telling everyone he would implement a severance tax. But, what are his progressive credentials?

        Again, i don’t care if he has street cred, but am just pointing out that he wasn’t endorsed by the local alleged progressive camp because he is part of some new alliance of progressives. He got the endorsement simply because he was the front runner and the locals were trying to gain some favor(s). That is how it has always worked and still does.

      2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        Wolf was the only candidate to comprehensively support open data policies, and the only one to support a progressive income tax, to talk seriously about “smart growth” (which disadvantages development in certain areas) and to even talk much about data-based decision making or changing the school funding formula instead of just “let’s fund all our schools more!” And as a self-funder, it didn’t hurt that he didn’t have to kiss the ring of some of the biggest networked donors. For statewide office, that’s enough to notice a distinction.

        I hear you how his big lead worked in his favor in terms of endorsements, but I think there is still such a thing as more progressive and less progressive groups and candidates. And in as much as being a “millionaire white guy business owner”… well, that makes perfect sense for a progressive, seeing as how being “Progressive” is considered weak tea to at least a third of the Left to begin with. We work with what we have. All eight or nine Democratic candidates for governor were white, and not a one of them qualified for public assistance. That doesn’t mean progressivism cannot exist.

      3. Anonymous

        Blah, blah, blah Bram. You are correct that being white doesn’t mean you can’t be progressive. But your twisting and contorting to fit Wolfe in a champion progressive means that anyone can be a progressive. There isn’t a single candidate on either side of the aisle that doesn’t want “smart growth” or “open data.” Supporting policies in order to gain control of the purse and actually living progressive are two very different things. The fact that all 9 candidates supported a marcellus shale tax only means that it is solidified that fracking is here to stay and completely legitimate. Consider the anti-frackers dead and buried.

  3. Richie Rich

    Do you dare disagree with me Bram? You are also an OBSTRUCTIONIST!! ( oh, yeah, forgot to add Jay Costa to that list too.) I’m considering sending you and the others an invitation to my Holiday party so when you show up I can have the power to tell you to leave.


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