Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dan Onorato Foreshadowing County Secession?

Illyrias and Bram Reichbaum and Chris Briem, commenting on Dan Onorato's response to the Supreme Court decision requiring reassessment in Allegheny County, have caused me to begin to wonder whether Mr. Onorato is contemplating going "Rick Perry" on us -- secession.

Mr. Onorato, according to published reports of his reaction to the court's ruling, 'repeated his vow' to refrain from reassessment and indicated he would not "just roll over and do something that will raise the property taxes of 1.3 million people." (For those who lack Mr. Onorato's law degree, "just roll over" is a technical legal term meaning "comply with a court order.")

Some intellectually fastidious observers might focus on the lack of logical correlation between reassessment and increased property taxes, but after three or four decades of nonsense and doubletalk this is no time to attempt to introduce logic or honest debate to local government.

Instead, let's focus on the 'vow not to reassess' and "just roll over" parts: The County Executive seems to be indicating that he will not recognize the authority of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, whose decision "requires" reassessment. This defiance doesn't strike me as off-the-cuff loose talk. Mr. Onorato, a lawyer, has known from the moment he filed the appeal that this result -- unanimous decision rejecting the county's position -- would almost surely arrive.

What would secession mean for the region? Mr. Onorato is not as close to Gov. Rendell or President Obama as many people (including Mr. Onorato) believe, so I don't expect the Pennsylvania National Guard or federal troops to take up arms on county government's behalf. Instead, the county would be forced to go it alone in defying the Commonwealth's Supreme Court.

Which could explain several other items, including the curious alliance with the boy mayor and the announcement concerning recent upgrades in local tactical weaponry.

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