Red Flags for Power of 32

By McNickle, Colin | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 15, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Red Flags for Power of 32


McNickle, Colin, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Does the pitch comport with the truth? Or is it merely a smoke screen to obfuscate the newest cluster cluck of the latest self- anointed "smart set"?

Now comes the Power of 32, "a regional visioning initiative that will involve tens of thousands of people across 32 counties in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia in creating a shared vision for the region's future," says the group's website.

"(W)e can think differently about our region's challenges -- our role in the global economy, our quality of life and our opportunities -- and act in ways that set a new direction," it continues.

And the people are in charge of the process, gush supporters such as Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Balya, a steering committee member.

Now, there's certainly nothing wrong with what organizers call "community conversations." After all, citizens meeting to discuss their mutual challenges and solutions is older than the republic.

And, indeed, Mr. Balya identifies two valid issues -- greater "functionality" for our regional airports and for a mass-transit system that served our region better 60 years ago (and with far more private components) than today.

That said, the Power of 32, "the largest regional visioning project ever," has a gross or two of red flags.

First, the group supposedly is the brainchild of former state Sen. Allen Kukovich, D-39th, who later ran Gov. Ed Rendell's southwest regional office. He's an aficionado of "regional tax-base sharing," a putrid hallmark of central planners.

Chairing a committee of Pitt's Institute of Politics a few years back, Mr. Kukovich appeared to advocate the creation of a cross- county super authority vested with regional taxing and bond-issuing power.

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