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Ask The Leaders: Fitzgerald And Peduto Talk Pittsburgh

By Jessica Berardino
(Source: NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) Mike Pintek
Mike Pintek loves Pittsburgh, but being a “D” student in geography...
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PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are sitting down with KDKA listeners to talk about the issues affecting them. Many times the public can miss out on the opportunity to present their problems to their public officials, KDKA is working to change that.

With the upcoming threat of more winter weather, many people are concerned about the amount of salt that is left in the city. Others are more concerned with how long it will take to clean off their streets and which streets will be taken care of first.

RELATED VIDEO: Ask the Leaders – February 27, 2014 – Segments 1-4

Assuming that the weather were to hit on Sunday, there are three scenarios that Mayor Peduto has prepared for; rainy weather, 6 to 12 inches of snow or the wintery mix of ice on the roads.

“Within the city of Pittsburgh, and we are limited in salt, we have a little over 2,000 tons of salt right now but that only gets us through a few inches,” said Peduto. “We’ve been purchasing limestone and sand to make up for the inability to purchase salt. There’s an inability to purchase salt, like the suppliers are not supplying cities throughout the east coast with salt nor the south.”

He says they are ready to plow the roads and salt the roads and continue that maintenance as the weather progresses. The first routes to be cleared will be the emergency routes and primary routes, then the secondary routes will be taken care of.

Ted from Mt. Washington was curious about the possibility of running a track by Amtrack to the convention center. Rich Fitzgerald addressed that he’s heard about this issue before, specifically from the residents that use the Route 28 corridor, but no answer could be given to if this could happen or not.

According to the Tribune Review, comments regarding what was stolen from the office include a Ming Dynasty Vase and a Superbowl trophy. But Mayor Bill Peduto commented that he would not make any further comments on an ongoing federal investigation.

So Mike Pintek posed the question, why did Mayor Peduto decide to go to the FBI instead of the local authorities for this crime. He suggested that it sent a message to the public that Mayor Peduto did not trust his own officers.

“I wouldn’t say that I don’t have a good relationship with the police department, I think I have a great relationship with the rank-n-file that want to see reform done throughout the department,” said Peduto. “I think that we lost control of the police department during the Ravenstahl administration.”

Mayor Bill Peduto stands to reason that the corruption in the police department doesn’t end there. He called this just the “tip of the iceberg” implying that this is the culture the city has grown in to and that’s why he is cleaning house.

“If I could trade residency requirements to being able to professionalize our police bureau I’d do it in a heart beat,” said Peduto. “If I could have new qualifications and a new professional assessment for recruitment for promotion and for retaining. In other words, having the ability to fire officers who are not doing their job, having the ability to promote based on merit solely and having the ability to recruit the best, I wouldn’t care where they slept at night.”

Realizing that Fitzgerald and Mayor Peduto don’t have any direct control over UPMC and Highmark, there are two problems that have the public concerned. The problems of finalizing a contract and paying property taxes.

“For this whole region we have got to be competitive with respect to cost when it comes to our health care coverage cause it’s a major cost that businesses have to bear when they’re located in a facility, in an area, and we’ve got to be competitive and right now we’re not,” said Fitzgerald. “We’ve got to bring our cost structure in the balance and if we don’t it’s going to hurt the competitive nature of this region.”

“We have to understand that our economy has shifted, the mills never left they just moved up the hills to Oakland and they’re called UPMC, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pittsburgh,” said Peduto. “And our largest employers are exempt from paying to the local tax base which then makes the taxes higher on the rest who are asked to pick up the tab.”

Recently, Alcosan is receiving pressure from the EPA about controlling storm water, rate increases with more to come and how the EPA wants a new plan. So what does this new administration plan to do?

“The issue is what we’ve been doing for years, every time it rains we dump, we as a community, dump raw sewage in to our rivers and it’s unacceptable,” said Fitzgerald. “We’ve got to deal with it probably by building bigger pipes and bigger plants, a bigger plant over at Alcosan. But we’ve also got to deal with it in a smart way with what has been termed “green infrastructure”, but what it really means is source reduction to try to make permeable pavement and have not all of our storm water run in to the system and overwhelm it.”

One listener was concerned that being a member of UPMC insurance meant that they could not go to AGH doctors, Mr. Fitzgerald had no idea about that.

“Both entities need to sit down and need to work this out so that if you’ve got a UPMC insurance card you can go to an AGH, Allegheny Health System Network, and if you have a Highmark card  you should be able to the UPMC network while staying within the network,” said Fitzgerald.

“The state has the authority and the ability to set the rules of how a purely public charity has to operate they have to pass what’s called the HUP test, and the rules need to be enforced at the state level,” said Peduto. “There’s three rules of accountability I hold major non-profits to and that is they’re accountable to the people so in this case no matter what card you have or if you don’t have a card, you’re being treated.”

He also believes you need to be accountable to your own workers by paying them enough that they have the opportunity to join the middle class. Finally you must be accountable to the local government for which you reside in, whether that be local or county.

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