Wednesday, June 3, 2009

City Council Mulls Vehicle Fleet Options

At the request of Councilwoman Darlene Harris, Pittsburgh City Council met today to discuss options and considerations crucial to the purchase of 48 new vehicles for the city’s 1100-strong fleet. Among the speakers were councilmen, union representatives, and environmental activists. Council President Doug Shields and Councilman Bruce Kraus called for a compromise between the loyalty to American manufacture and consciousness of environmental effects. Other opinions were mixed. Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea says Pittsburgh would betray its past if it bought any vehicles from foreign companies. “This is where labor started. This is where labor merged the AFL and the CIO. I think the last thing we want to see on the city streets is foreign cars. Even though they’re made in America, they’re not from American companies,” says Shea. Environmental organization representatives were less concerned about the vehicles’ make and more about their effects. “Pittsburgh has a burgeoning biofuels industry. Vehicle purchasing options [can] leverage existing incentives such as state and federal dollars available for biofuels projects with local job training and job creating projects, while at the same time saving city residents tax dollars and cutting global warming and other pollution,” says PennFuture Outreach Coordinator Joylette Portlock. Shields offered a unique solution. “Why aren’t we dictating, or going to the manufacturers, just like the federal government did during World War II, and saying, ‘This is what we need,’ and then have the manufacturers start responding to that with some innovative and great ideas, which we’ve always done in this country and which has made this country great?” says Shields.

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