When County Councilman Bill Robinson torpedoed Allegheny County’s $50 million capital budget last week by insisting that it include $500,000 for the bankrupt August Wilson Center for African American Culture, he didn’t look at it as a “last stand” moment, but it might look differently in hindsight.
Less than 24 hours after Robinson refused to present the budget without the funds, Council President Charles Martoni relieved Robinson from his post as Budget Committee chairman. But he didn’t tell Robinson directly. Instead, he emailed every councilmember, including Robinson. Robinson said he was shocked and surprised someone he considered a friend would do that.
“He stabbed me in the chest,” said Robinson last week.
Referring to “outside influences convinced there needed to be a change because things weren’t going in a direction those outside influences wanted,” Robinson suggested Martoni was only carrying out the dictates of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who had previously said he would veto any budget that had funding for the Wilson Center.