PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Turn on the television these days and this is the tone of the county executive race.
Raja Ad: “Career politician Rich Fitzgerald has dragged Allegheny County into a slow decline.”
Fitzgerald Ad: “Republican Raja keeps trashing us because his record is so bad.”
With grainy pictures, melancholy music and menacing voices, both candidates assail each other, but what’s true?
Raja Ad: “People are leaving. Unemployment has doubled since Fitzgerald took office.”
The county’s population is down, but economists say the area is attracting more people today and unemployment is well below the national average.
Even if Raja’s facts are true, blaming Fitzgerald, a part-time county councilman, for a decline is opinion, not fact.
Fitzgerald Ad: “And Raja’s company has been fined $133,000 for not paying people the minimum wage.”
Raja’s company was cited by the labor department for 75 violations – three for failure to pay minimum wage and 72 for not paying overtime.
Raja agreed to pay $133,000 in back pay. Calling that a fine is opinion, not fact.
Raja Ad: “Higher taxes on cars, parks and the highest tax ever imposed on Allegheny County — the drink tax.”
Fitzgerald says he did vote for these to avoid raising property taxes.
But while the drink tax at 7 percent is a high tax rate, the county imposed a one percent sales tax in 1994 which raised at least three times more tax revenue.
Fitzgerald Ad: “Raja made his fortune outsourcing jobs. Raja sends our jobs overseas.”
Six years ago, Raja told an Indian reporter that he planned to triple his employees in India and make outsourcing 80 percent of his company’s revenues, but today raja says 94 percent of company payroll is in the USA and he employs 300 Americans and less than a hundred in India.
True or false, Fitzgerald’s claim that Raja outsources cannot be verified.