Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, again defying court-mandated fairness ("Onorato Says County Will Appeal Order on Tax Assessments," Nov. 17), sounds awfully like a 1960s segregationist. He says he hasn't heard anyone speak in support of the courts in this case, making it clear his hearing is tuned only to the voices of privilege, not the nearly one in five Allegheny County households that are overassessed.
The assessment of 2004 that he threw out would have reduced my taxes by more than 40 percent. The harm he does to his least powerful constituents is real, significant and quantifiable -- and makes clear the need for the constitutional protections provided by the courts.
The "back-door tax increase" bogeyman could be tamed by any undergraduate computer science class. The formula for keeping tax income within the legal 5 percent rise is pathetically simple. It is worth remembering that it was the Republican members of County Council, whose constituents would have been forced to accept their fair share of the tax burden, who voted to take the more principled position.
Now Mr. Onorato is trying to bully the Legislature into making a mockery of constitutional separation of powers -- which will no doubt incur legal costs that will dwarf the sums of taxpayer money already spent in the service of his arrogance.
If Republicans can bring their social positions more in line with those of average Americans on issues like civil unions and family planning, they may find that voters in some of the deepest-blue areas of this county -- hardest hit by Mr. Onorato's position -- are willing to give them a hearing.