Politics & Policy

Gov. Contender Onorato, as County Executive, Failed to Complete Mandatory Government Reviews

Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Institute is taking Dan Onorato to task for his failure to promote transparency and accountability via a “sunset review,” which is mandated by Allegheny’s charter (the county equivalent of a constitution). Onorato has staked much of his campaign against Tom Corbett on the strength of his time in office as Allegheny County Executive, so this is a charge that stings:

The long overdue review was not available [in March] and is still not ready. The County’s Charter and Administrative Code call for such reviews to be carried out every four years. However, to date, the only sunset review completed was published in July 2003. That means the second review is now three years overdue and work on the third to be published in 2011 should be well underway.

Sunset review is a vitally important task for governing bodies. And lest we forget that is why the drafters of the County Charter put the sunset review requirement in the Charter. Allegheny County government has an operating budget of more than $770 million and employs close to 7,000 people (6 per 1,000 County residents) so when it comes to scrutinizing what the County does, how the County does it, and whether some other agency or entity should do it, no stone should be left unturned. …

… the County Executive cannot be absolved of responsibility. After all, the Executive appoints the Manager and has the responsibility of seeing that the Charter is upheld, and that includes completing sunset reviews.  Overseeing the executive branch means making sure all Charter mandates are carried out in a timely fashion. [emphasis added]

In the context of Dan Onorato’s let’s-not-disturb-the-china approach to the scandals at the Delaware River Port Authority, the failure to execute on these reviews represents another awkward problem for a man already 10 points down in the polls.

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