On Underground Princes, Corrupting Arrangements and Exposed Sewers

– Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein’s garish suits, lavish long idleness, aversion to ethics, networks of patronage and generational pedigree should have long ago tipped us to how he is a vampire. We thank the US Department of Justice for making sure our local leaders understand Washington isn’t keen to trust an apex parasite with billions in infrastructure money.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald let Weinstein stay on the sewer authority board for a decade, including three years as its chair. Weinstein’s been elected to his countywide row office for 5 terms with little or no opposition. He’s “brokered” majorities on County Council. He’d just been lurking in the shadows, obfuscated!

– Once the feds motivated Fitz to dump Weinstein from the sewer board, Weinstein decided to run for term-limited Fitzgerald’s office. The Steamfitters and Laborers came aboard as though plumbing is their life’s work and the rest of the “building” trades followed, but Weinstein was also exposed to sunlight for the first time.

– When it comes to the racketeering complaint in particular, my fanfic is not only that Weinstein is the alleged “legal framer” of the Snyders’ alleged fake lien enterprise, but that he also tipped Attorney General Shapiro to the Biroses so that the Snyders could take over the whole illicit video poker ring by themselves, and now the Biroses are taking the Snyders down with them. Let me know if that’s even plausible!

– Yes, we should vanquish the vampire. No we needn’t destroy everybody enthralled to him, we’re trying to save them too.

Democrat At-Large Bethany Hallam is a first-term elected official, lacks a familial pedigree in politics, fights for social justice into the teeth of conservative headwinds (Fitzgerald) and is unashamed of horse trading for what she sees as good opportunities for people so marginalized they never find them. She thinks her colleagues on Council who voted with her to reject Fitzgerald’s jail oversight appointments because they wanted her to reject his sewer appointments, are the best source of insight on all things Weinstein and spooky. And she bristles at the suggestion she did anything “to try to keep Weinstein on the board,” leaving her presumably comfortable at “trying to make everyone happy.”

Some people believe all board nominees should be voted on their own merits. Some even think Executives get to staff their own administrations, outside any particular outrage. Many believe stories claiming Hallam was Weinstein’s messenger bearing an improper political threat, and think she’s lying about it. They worry about what hold Weinstein must have on Hallam, or about her judgement or vulnerabilities. Others are a little tired of social justice poseurs, Twitter lynch mobs and their vicious cancellations, and having to kowtow to local progressives that are so in vogue yet fatally delusive. Still others want to see more types of journeys and struggles represented, and juxtaposed with each other. All among them can find solace in Hallam’s challenger Joanna Doven, who speaks to a moderate liberal id that’s all bottled up and has stories to choose from.

For the record though, Democrats would be insane to excommunicate Hallam. She’s grown the party while making it more progressive, and has rare political talents. The problem is she came up in an environment where we let whole vampires walk among us, daily. And we might let it stay that way.

City Controller Michael Lamb is foremost of many candidates confronting Count Weinstein and his depravities most forthrightly. Years ago Lamb twice audited the sewer authority calling out its lack of documentation or sound justification for professional services and construction subcontracting contracts. But it’s hard to say what happens politically if building trades guys get thrown under a bus out only to complain how lawyers and bankers get away with worse, or if larger problems buried during Weinstein’s tenure might jeopardize future federal funding and/or regional political stability.

State Rep. Sara Innamorato is running against Weinstein and Lamb with the backing of most progressives and “service” labor including nurses and teachers. She’s made gestures to acknowledge demands for ending “pay to play” and has volunteered notable transparency, but hasn’t yet addressed the vampire in the room, preferring to emphasize red meat issues like housing, pollution and UPMC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.