Stall and delay: The county health board punts on a new air code
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Despite taking input from a wide range of stakeholders and completing years of work that produced a compromise, the Allegheny County Board of Health couldn't bring itself to adopt a long-overdue update of its toxic air guidelines.
Instead of replacing the county's 1988 emissions code at its meeting Wednesday, the board postponed a vote until Nov. 7.
This all has a familiar, anti-public feel to it, reminiscent of the years spent by the same health board, during the Dan Onorato administration, on modernizing the county's restaurant grading system. The board was ready to replace the lax and archaic cleanliness rating program with one that would have posted letter grades on restaurant doors. But it suddenly reversed course a year ago, after pressure from restaurant owners, and scrapped the idea.
By coincidence, at the same meeting last week where the health board punted on the air code, it announced that a committee to develop a new restaurant rating system will be reactivated. The health board chairman says County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is committed to getting a new food rating system approved. We can only hope.
But the public is seeing similar foot-dragging on updating the pollution code, no doubt brought on by similar opposition from the affected industry. All that has changed is the name of the county executive.
County government works for the people of the county -- people who deserve clean air due to modern emissions rules and clean restaurants where they can buy a meal that won't make them sick. By stalling, delaying and knuckling under to special interests, county officials shirk their duty to serve the people who employ them.
First Published September 23, 2012 12:00 am