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Fitzgerald Launches Fall TV Campaign; Introduces Transparency Plan

By Natalka Karaman and David Gerber

A bit of Allegheny Exec news from the past week.

Fitzgerald hits TV

“Kids,” launched this past Friday, is Rich Fitzgerald’s first television ad for his fall campaign. It was also the first ad of his primary campaign this spring (with a few small tweaks).

The ad features Fitzgerald’s eight children, who discuss their dad’s humble college experience (he drove a cab to earn money to go to Carnegie Mellon), and his business expertise as an entrepreneur. All eight of his children have an individual spot during the ad. Consistent with his “jobs, jobs, jobs,” campaign platform,  Fitzgerald concludes the ad with, “As County Council President, I cut waste, saving taxpayers millions. And as County Executive, I’ll work to keep our jobs and futures here.”

“I am excited to be on the air with my new television commercial,” Fitzgerald said.  “I am proud of my record of saving taxpayers money and my record in business of making other companies more energy efficient which allows them to create more jobs.  Most importantly, I am proud of my family and I am running for County Executive to create jobs so my children – and all of our children – will be able to get jobs here.”

Watch the ad here.

This morning however, Raja, another county exec candidate, responded bitterly that the ad is “30 seconds worth of lies” and attempts to set the “record straight.”

The facts in the ad are disputed by Raja and his campaign team, claiming that Fitzgerald has not created any private sector jobs with his own company, he spent $100,000 to upgrade his office even though the budget was tight, that he created the highest tax in Allegheny County history (Drink Tax), and that unemployment went from 3.1% to 7.1% during his time as County Council President.

James Genovese, Raja’s campaign manager said, “The only thing honest about this ad is Rich’s children’s names. Rich needs to own and set his record straight. A record of doubling unemployment, wasteful spending and higher taxes, by every imaginable way he has failed Allegheny County. It’s time for a new direction.”

Transparency, or Politics?

Fitzgerald also released a four point plan that focuses on making the Allegheny County Government more transparent to it’s citizens.

Fitzgerald said that making government more open and transparent will make it easier for county residents to hold elected officials accountable and that his record on transparency has led to low taxes and kept the cost of county government low.

“Transparency in government leads to lower costs because the politicians know people are watching them and that is why I fought so hard for more open government throughout my career,” Fitzgerald said. “My plan would make Allegheny County government even more transparent and make it easier for taxpayers to hold elected officials accountable.”

The plan consists of the following four major agenda points:

Developing the Allegheny County online checkbook: Create the Allegheny County Online Checkbook so taxpayers can track how every dollar is spent by the county.

Disclose all lobbying on behalf of the county: Disclose all information regarding the county’s lobbying efforts at the state and federal level and that it should be easily accessed online by county taxpayers.

Posting county ethics forms online: Make it easier for residents to obtain elected officials’ financial information by posting all Statements of Financial Disclosure online so that any interested party could obtain the forms easily and at any time.

Making campaign finances more transparent: Upgrade the campaign finance website to allow interested parties to obtain more information regarding political contributions.

Raja says Fitzgerald is just playing politics.

“Are political calculations the only thing you consider when making decisions?” he blasted.

The Raja campaign argues that Fitzgerald opposed two row office referendums, amounting to an attempt to stall reform.

“This is another example of politics as usual from Fitzgerald,” said Genovese. “Fitzgerald blocked reform until it became politically advantageous for him to support. This is not leadership. It is political hackery.”

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