The head of the county Port Authority served up quite the rhetorical knuckle-sandwich for the head of the state's Democratic Party (and the new president of Allegheny County Council) Jim Burn this morning.
Burn suggested cutting $5 mil out of the authority's budget to send a message about transit cuts coming due to losses in state funding. Port Authority CEO Steve Bland, who has a pretty good relationship with pols on both sides of the aisle both here and his Harrisburg, made his feelings clear on the proposal.
But [Bland] also said he didn't think the county would approve the funding cut. "Eventually, they'll figure out how stupid it is," Mr. Bland said.
Councilman Jim Burn on Tuesday proposed withholding about $5 million of the $27.7 million the county pays to the authority annually to match state funding. The proposal was to protest the authority's plan to cut service by 15 percent on March 27 rather than quickly spend all of the emergency funding provided in January by departing Gov. Ed Rendell.
Mr. Bland said losing $5 million in county funding would cause an additional $22 million to $25 million loss of state funds because of the matching requirement. The authority could be forced to eliminate 30 more routes, cut service on 79 more routes and lay off another 250 workers, perhaps as soon as September, he said.
"I have to admit I'm confused by the whole effort," Mr. Bland said. "No part of what I read about this makes any sense whatsoever. I have no idea what Jim's agenda is. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail."