Monday, June 12, 2006

the never ending story

Few debates remain consistent over such long periods as has the debate over local government structure in Allegheny County.

The Post-Gazette covered both sides of the argument in the Forum section Sunday. Far more interesting is the contrast between those arguments (pro and con) with David Brown’s piece in the Trib on the history of Pittsburgh’s annexation of Allegheny City a century ago. What is striking is just how similar the arguments of today are to what went on in 1906. Consider all that has changed in the nation and the world over the last century, yet the arguments over how Pittsburgh and Allegheny County should interact has remained virtually static.

How acrimonious were these issue’s at the time? David touches on this in his piece, but it was quite true that the City’s annexation of Allegheny city went all the way to the Supreme Court where it was ruled on in the Case of Hunter v. City of Pittsburgh, a precedent that still has meaning today. In fact, the state's response to the Allegheny City annexation set in place much of commonwealth's laws on the subject and fixed in place a high level of fragmentation state-wide. Whichever side of the debate you are on, there are lessons to be learned from what happened back then.

My own take on how the Allegheny City episode relates to the current debate is discussed here. If you want to learn more on the general topic of Regionalism and Local Government Fragmentation in Pittsburgh, I have tried to maintain this primer with various refererences from points of view on both sides.

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