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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

Laurel: To the PSO’s musicians. These are tough times for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. And its primary resource — its players — have responded accordingly. They have approved a three-year contract that cuts their base salaries by 7.8 percent but calls for more work in the first two years. In year three, base pay will rise to 95 percent of the average pay of the nation’s top four orchestras. We trust the public will note this sacrifice and offer increased monetary support to one of the finest symphony orchestras in the world.

Lance : To Mark Schneider. The vice chairman of the Sports & Exhibition Authority says the state Legislature’s “failure” to pass a 3 percent rental car tax forced the SEA to approve a bond issue of up to $20 million to pay for the completion of the new convention center and to pay its operating bills. The only “failed leadership” we see is the authority passing a “balanced” budget that wasn’t, using a nonexistent revenue stream, and a center that’s now nearly $100 million over original cost estimates. How outrageous!

Laurel: To Noresco. The Massachusetts-based energy company responsible for the “water chiller” apparatus that cools the new convention center will pay $750,000 over the next five years for naming rights for the center’s third-floor terrace. It’s the kind of private investment that this community needs more of.

Laurel: To Jane Orie. The Republican state senator continues to propose strict parameters for any Pittsburgh oversight board. The latest would give any state financial control board subpoena power to obtain city records. It also would give the board the authority to sell city assets to reduce costs. We trust both measures will make the final cut. Hats off to Sen. Orie for pushing for their inclusion.

Laurel: To Jim Roddey. The Allegheny County executive, in his annual State of the County address, proposes a $10 million tax cut. Part of the plan involves increasing the homestead exemption (from $10,000 to $15,000) and a 19 percentage-point increase (from 25 percent to nearly 44 percent) in the senior citizen discount. The moves are predicated on cuts in those bloated row office budgets and consolidating police and emergency services. “Politics!” cry his critics. “Good governance!” is our retort.

Laurel: To Roddey and Dan Onorato: Republican Roddey and the Democrat county controller who hopes to oust him share at least one important trait — a healthy skepticism of US Airways. During a Monday forum, Mr. Roddey expressed doubt that US Airways can survive without a merger. And Mr. Onorato doesn’t think too much of the airline’s management team. We happen to support Mr. Roddey for re-election. But no matter who wins on Nov. 4, that skepticism — on that issue — should serve the public well.


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