Shocked, Shocked to Find Gambling In This Establishment!

After I knocked Councilmember Bill Peduto for supporting the parking tax increase in Pittsburgh despite a thoughtful opinion article about the region's future, a member of his staff sent me the detail behind Peduto's call for an audit of how the Pittsburgh Parking Authority has raised rates in response to the tax hike. The detail, however, shows something that the Post-Gazette's article doesn't, which is that by and large the Parking Authority has raised short-term parking rates far more than it has raised long-term parking rates.

Suggesting this: Much as Council would wish it otherwise, the Parking Authority isn't going to be the target of scenes like this, with owners of downtown businesses loudly and publicly blaming Council (correctly) for driving business (and businesses) out of the city. The real money downtown isn't in retailing, which is why short-term rates don't matter so much. The real money is in firms with offices and employees driving in. The Parking Authority seems to get this. Council either doesn't, or it's waiting for someone else to step up to be a political punching bag.

It's difficult to imagine, but maybe Council didn't realize that if it raised the parking tax, parking rates might actually increase. Didn't anyone talk to the Parking Authority before passing the tax? Calling for an audit now sounds a bit like Captain Renault in Casablanca, shutting down Rick's Cafe for gambling, while pocketing his winnings. Or, maybe a more modern movie reference is in order. Remember Mel Brooks's line in Blazing Saddles: "We've got to protect our phoney baloney jobs, gentleman!"


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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