The cool thing about Dan Simpson is that as a former career diplomat, he's able to bring a broader perspective to some local issues. Like the effects single-party rule brings to a place.
He adds that one of the many problems single-party rule brings is that serious issues do not get addressed. Locally, that's city-county consolidation. Simpson sez: Won't happen here. Why?
In Burundi the party was UPRONA, the Union for National Progress. In Bulgaria it was the Bulgarian Communist Party. In Zaire, it was the Popular Movement of the Revolution and in the Central African Republic, the Central African Democratic Assembly. In Chicago, under Mayor Richard J. Daley, it was the Democratic Party, as it is here.
Pittsburgh has been under Democratic Party control for more than 70 years. It shows virtually all of the effects of single-party rule, with the exception of the use of police and other security forces to keep the ruling party in power, although one of this year's mayoral candidates, Ryan Scott of the Socialist Workers Party, complained repeatedly about police repression in the mayoral candidates' forum the Post-Gazette sponsored last week.
...everyone knows that consolidation has to occur if Pittsburgh is ever to break out of its vicious cycle of insolvency and high taxes, but the Democrats do not want to achieve that efficiency since it would mean moving their supporters out of patronage jobs.He takes a stab at Mayor Luke and does that broader context thing to find another example:
Now I can imagine all the Luke Supporters who crowd this blog (and you know who you are!) wanting to get all medieval on Simpson's behind for comparing their boy to one of the more obviously corrupt dictators of Central Africa. They'd be looking, I would think, to distract the conversation away from Mayor Luke's obviously improper use of a DHS vehicle as his personal ride to criticising Simpson for saying that Pittsburgh's Ravenstahl was as bad as Zaire's Mobotu (and if you look carefully, Simpson didn't say that at all).
When Mr. Ravenstahl grows up he might make a decent mayor. At 27, being 27, as he tells us when we the media point out what he is doing, he feels free to accept gifts from the Penguins and UPMC and to commit the typical cardinal sin of officials in a one-party state -- employing public assets for his private use. Only someone who knows he will get elected no matter what he does would use a Department of Homeland Security-provided vehicle to go on a recreational outing with his wife.
But that is normal behavior in a one-party state. President Mobutu Sese Seku of Zaire used to requisition the planes of the national airline, Air Zaire, for personal trips to his vacation homes around the world. For him there was no distinction between public and private property -- what was his because of his position and what was his personally. No party but the ruling party in a one-party state would dare put up for election such a candidate.
On the other candidates, Simspon is less than enthusiastic:
...Bill Peduto, who either deliberately or unwittingly put forward the message that there are different points of view within the ruling Democratic Party. That is an illusion that the population should not buy. If someone like Mr. Peduto were elected mayor, it would be highly unlikely that he would change anything significant, having incurred the debts that he would have had to incur within the party to get elected.And:
So is there any way out of this mess? It's hard to say. The Republican candidate, Mark DeSantis, is not exactly a ball of fire, either. Ryan Scott, 24, the Socialist Worker candidate, and Tony Oliva, 27, the Libertarian candidate, are basically repositories of undeveloped ideas, works in progress like Mr. Ravenstahl.So there you have it. Single-party rule: Bad. For Pittsburgh, there's little chance of any way out of it.
Thus Spake Simpson.