Monday, July 12, 2010

Shields Wants Cease and Desist Sent to PWSA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields is taking his fight with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to the next level. The authority began offering an opt-out water line insurance program this year that added a $5 charge to all customers unless they formally declined the offer. The anger grew when many of those customers learned that the insurance would not even cover their lines. Shields says city code makes “Negative Option Billing” illegal. Shields sent a letter to the City’s Law Department asking it to, “send to PWSA a cease and desist order to prevent continuation of this illegal activity.” Shields says the department has been “unresponsive to his letter” and has now has asked City Council President Darleen Harris to send a similar letter. Shields notes that city code includes a fine of as much as $500 a day per offense. “If you want to solve our pension problem, we can perhaps levy the fine against the Water and Sewer Authority and they will have to pay it, and right now it’s tallying up into the millions of dollars,” says Shields. Shields anger seems to be at least somewhat shifting from the PWSA to the Law Department. He says, “The solicitors office has been rather nonresponsive since last Wednesday on the matter. I guess they don’t have an answer, or can’t read the law.”

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