Friday, August 19, 2011

A 'Concise' Guide to the Woes of the PWSA

I had been wanting to compile a list of the scandals and shady dealings surrounding the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for some time now. However, really detailing all of what has gone on there in just the last few years would require far too much space. And, in any case, there are others out there who have already done the research and are doing a better job spelling it all out than I ever could. So, below, I give you all the newsworthy events I can recall and links to the required reading for each.

First, there is the shady variable-rate bond deal they got into. Raising this issue was part of Dowd's campaign for Mayor. Then, infrastructure improvement was delayed to pay off that bond. Nullspace attacks the way it is all being spun now.

Then, we have the debacle with Iron City where PWSA debts were forgiven with the promise of retaining jobs in the city. (But, those jobs moved to Latrobe) First, Ravenstahl negotiated a package to reduce Iron City's debt with PWSA, in addition to other incentives, in exchange for production staying in the city. But then Iron City moved production to Latrobe and PWSA sealed all the documents relating to the deal with them.

Finally, there is the line insurance program.This program offered insurance to customers at a rate of 5$ a month in case repairs were needed to the customer's water lines. This one is like a octopus!

There was the initial controversy about it being an opt-out program.

Then, later, the lawsuit that ended it.

On top of that, the director of PWSA's board, Michael Kenney, had been an owner of the company that provided the line insurance. So, after Dowd called for it, he resigned.

But then PWSA took steps to ensure that he wouldn't be investigated or prosecuted. Dowd's previous calls for transparency grew faint as his fellow councilors Shields and Peduto called for an investigation into Kenney's dealings at PWSA.

And now it turns out that the line insurance money is gone and claims aren't being paid. PWSA's promise that all claims would be paid seems to have been forgotten.

Finally, we learn that the insurance scheme probably wouldn't have been able to cover all the claims even if it had survived. Nullspace has even more coverage of the issue here.

Ughhh, when you lay it all out like that it looks pretty disgusting.