If the head that wears the crown truly lies uneasy, Mayor Bill Peduto did not seem to notice despite the barbs thrown his way by his primary election challengers during the May 3 African American Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum at the Rivers Club, Downtown.
The somewhat freeform exchange, which also included a session with some Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Council candidates, was moderated by New Pittsburgh Courier Editor and Publisher Rod Doss. Topics discussed included the ongoing lead water line problems, attracting and retaining residents, jobs, and business and racial equity.
With respect to the addressing the problem of elevated lead levels in the city’s water caused by the delamination of old water mains, Peduto said the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority never reinvested monies into infrastructure and after years of neglect, it has problems that will take $411 million and 14 years to fix.
“We have six pumping stations that could fail at any time, and if one does—the city loses water,” he said. “I’m not a wizard. I can’t magically fix it. But we’re getting filters to every customer that needs them, and we’re replacing the lines as fast as we can.”
Candidate Darlene Harris blamed Peduto, saying he got rid of employees who might have dealt with the lead issue.
“He fired all the chemists, 17 of the top people who’d been there,” she said. “And replaced them with consultant after consultant.”