Robinson loses budget chair over Wilson funding

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During a Dec. 9 press conference in council chambers, Robinson recanted–slightly. He said he would no longer push for the $500,000 allocation, but neither would he vote for a budget without it.

“I’m done, I’ve helped the August Wilson Center as much as I can,” he said.

He also said he would no longer caucus with council Democrats and called for Martoni to resign immediately, citing the Home Rule Charter section on separation of powers between council and the executive.

“I don’t believe he has lived up to those words,” said Robinson.

Martoni, who said last month he would step down as president in January, appointed District 4 Councilman Michael Finnerty to replace Robinson as budget chair. Last week he said he had grown frustrated at the budget impasse.

There was no hint of coming turmoil at the Dec. 3 meeting as council easily approved the County’s $817 million operating budget. But when it appeared council would revise the capital budget to negate the Wilson allocation, Robinson refused to release it from committee.

Martoni, who in his email praised Robinson’s skill at bringing fiscal responsibility to the county budget process, said he had “gone off the deep end” with the Wilson Center issue and forgotten his responsibilities.

Robinson said his push to fund the Wilson Center generated animosity and that he had received racial threats on his office phone, which Allegheny County police are investigating. He said he also plans to ask them to sweep his offices for electronic surveillance equipment and to see if his computers had been compromised.

Fitzgerald declined comment on the circumstances of Robinson’s demotion.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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