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As Pittsburgh elects it's 58th Mayor . . .

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Mayor Tom Murphy has decided not to run for a 4th term and the contest for 300 Grant Street is a four man race.

Three Democrats and one Republican with long-time City Councilman turned Governor's aide Bob O'Connor in a narrow lead faced off this past weekend (17th)in the first mayoral debatefirst mayoral debate.

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O'Connor is the one with white hair.

~~~

With the first REAL Mayor's Race in the city in 12 years (where almost any one can win) as the backdrop, Pittsburgh has lost one of it's most dynamic mayors. Pete Flaherty Mayor from 1970-1977 passed away in the South Hills on April 18th.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05109/490448.stm

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Flaherty was remembered best as being the Mayor that dragged Pittsburgh out of the party machine politics of the 1930s and 1950s and into fiscal discipline and governmental transparency with it's citizens. He was the first Big City mayor outside the south to endorse then long-shot Jimmy Carter for the Presidency. The endorsement was one of the key moments in the Carter campaign that cemented his initial lead among Democrats and helped push him past Ford in '76. Later he served as US Assistant AG under Carter, helping to successfully negotiate a terroist hostage crisis. In the 1980s he ran for Governor and U.S. Senate but lost by slight margins every time. He served the Metro Government (Allegheny County) up until the mid-90s as councilman. He is one of the truely great Pittsburgh Mayors, the man that divides the current progressive, environmentally focused city and the old industrial party machine town.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05109/490421.stm

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What do you think Mayor Murphy's legacy will be? I think, in the opinion of the region, he is going out on a bad note (city finances, failed downtown fifth/forbes development, etc). However, years from now I think he will be looked upon favorably for his riverfront work (trails, steel site redevelopment), convention center, and stadiums. I think he will also be credited with starting the push to revitalize residential living downtown. Personally, I feel that the riverfront trails are one his greatest accomplishments.

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^^I think Murphy will go down as someone that changed Pittsburgh forever in some great ways and in some not so great ways but definetly someone that made a BIG impact on the city.

In that way I think Murphy and Flaherty are much alike and equal to Caliguiri and Lawrence. Caliguri and Lawrence I believe were better mayors but I think of all 4 men as having greater impacts then the Masloffs and Barrs (as well as the Gallaghers if anyone remembers him).

I think to properly put Murphy's legacy in perspective you would need to compare him to his peer group -- other Pittsburgh Mayors:

Here mine, interested in hearing yours:

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=10668

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In that way I think Murphy and Flaherty are much alike and equal to Caliguiri and Lawrence.  Caliguri and Lawrence I believe were better mayors but I think of all 4 men as having greater impacts then the Masloffs and Barrs (as well as the Gallaghers if anyone remembers him).

Who was Gallagher? Was he the interim guy who stepped in after Flahrety left office?

I'd rank Murphy above Flaherty. Flaherty killed Skybus and obstructed progerss on the Parkway North. Murphy, in contrast, got quite a bit done from the trails to the new Covnention Center. Fifth/Forbes didn't work but it could have had the Pgh community been more supportive (which it wasn't). I'd rank Murphy well up there. He's just leaving on a bad note because of the budget crisis but that's the accumulation of results from policies that occured well before he came into office.

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^^ Gallagher, a Lawrence appointee was interim when David Lawrence stepped down to become Pa. Governor, didn't run the next year and another "Lawrence man" Joseph Barr ran and was in office till Flaherty took over in 1970.

That's one of the reasons the campaign call of "Nobody's Boy" had such a pull in 1969 election. David Lawrence ran the City/County Building from Mayor Scully in 1936 till his death in 1966. They were all "Lawrence men". Lawrence wasn't all evil, not by a long shot, he is considered one of the "best 20th Century American Mayors" along with LaGuardia and Bradley etc. He just knew how to run a steamroller of political machine (that may have thwarted democracy some but got the stuff Pittsburgh always needed to do but never could quite muster the political strength to get done, accomplished once in for all.).

And people thought that Mayor Daley of Chicago was the ultimate political boss.

Lawrence also was instrumental in the selection of FDR, Truman and JFK for the Democratic ticket and Truman and LBJ for the post of VP. For only a mayor and governor he would have put a James Carville or Carl Rove to shame these days. ;)

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As far as Flaherty vs. Murphy goes, both were known for being fiercely independent.

Both also railed AGAINST interstates (Murphy is more AGAINST the I-576 Mon-Fay then he is for it). Interstates in a city of Pittsburgh's size (only 55 sq. miles similar to D.C. where the majority of people who call themselves "Washingtonians" or read the Post etc. DON'T live in D.C. it is mostly universities the urban business corps and slums or near slums with one or two established highly priced neighborhoods . . . very similar to Pittburgh's predicament).

When you have such little metro pie slice any urban 10 lane or 12 lane interstate is not helping the "city's" transportation (it is offering a 10 lane escape route) it is actually taking away hundreds of acres of taxable land, and knowing how they route interstates that land is near river vistas, railroad tracks, valleys, universities, stadiums etc. all that would get top dollar from corporations wanting to be by the action instead it is turned into an urban eyesore dividing vibrant neighborhoods and adding to blight.

The I-576 Murphy has fought in practice. It would almost certainly destroy the neighborhood of Hazelwood which it would cut in half and it would destroy acres and acres of highly sought after land in the Carnegie-Mellon/University of Pittsburgh Technology Center where planners want acres of onramps, offramps, turnabouts, and connectors to link up to I-376. That is land the city could use to fill Tax Holes by luring a Philips or Microsoft to an area that boasts Sunoco Technology Center, Chevron Technology Center, Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Center, Guru.com HQ, etc. Flaherty and Murphy are both against that especially in a metro that companies can go over to the next hillside and escape city limits and city taxes while still having a GREAT view of downtown. When you only 55 sq. miles you need every foot of land by those Universities, Stadiums and Technology Centers to lure the big companies in.

As far as Skybus my reading on it was that it was NOT a mass-transit plan as much as it was the evolution of pork that began under the political dealmaker Lawrence and grew to a cancer under similarly minded but weaker then Lawrence at keeping those corporations straight Barr. Skybus was a end run at the taxpayers of the county which just went through 20 years of building the world's first retractable sports stadium, arguably the world's best airport terminal, the world's best entrance to a city, another stadium, an urban park, a river park, a state park, 6 skyscrapers at Gateway Center (which the city put up the initial investment for) etc. etc. etc. Pittsburgh did clean itself up lots in the 1950s but the corporations cleaned up alot as well contracting with the city to do the work. The Gravy train would go on forever most thought in the late 1960s, and under the non-confrontational Barr the corporations thought they could get away with things Lawrence would have killed them on. Skybus was the crown jewel of local pork. The idea was fundamentally sound but the details were a financial nightmare.

Flaherty instead went the recycling route, instead of spending billions on building a transit way in the sky, reuse abandoned rail lines for light rail and put those suburban cores to work again as transit stops. The idea was realized as Subway/Light rail early in the Caliguri administration but had its birth with the death of Skybus under Flaherty (Flaherty never gave up on the idea of transit, just not a corporate pork project that would take twice as long to build--but hey some of the suits get paid by the hour!)

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As far as Skybus my reading on it was that it was NOT a mass-transit  plan as much as it was the evolution of pork that began under the political dealmaker Lawrence and grew to a cancer under similarly minded but weaker then Lawrence at keeping those corporations straight Barr.  Skybus was a end run at the taxpayers of the county which just went through 20 years of building the world's first retractable sports stadium, arguably the world's best airport terminal, the world's best entrance to a city, another stadium, an urban park, a river park, a state park, 6 skyscrapers at Gateway Center (which the city put up the initial investment for) etc. etc. etc.  Pittsburgh did clean itself up lots in the 1950s but the corporations cleaned up alot as well contracting with the city to do the work.  The Gravy train would go on forever most thought in the late 1960s, and under the non-confrontational Barr the corporations thought they could get away with things Lawrence would have killed them on.  Skybus was the crown jewel of local pork.  The idea was fundamentally sound but the details were a financial nightmare.

Flaherty instead went the recycling route, instead of spending billions on building a transit way in the sky, reuse abandoned rail lines for light rail and put those suburban cores to work again as transit stops.  The idea was realized as Subway/Light rail early in the Caliguri administration but had its birth with the death of Skybus under Flaherty (Flaherty never gave up on the idea of transit, just not a corporate pork project that would take twice as long to build--but hey some of the suits get paid by the hour!)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks for the info!

Was Skybus ever intended to enter downtown Pgh via subway or was it to be above-ground there as well?

Also, while Skybus would have been more expensive than the T, the Skybus project was already underway when it got cancelled. They spent money on refurbishing the Wabash tunnel and on excavation at South Hills Village, only to have it all scuttled (though SHV later was used in the T). So, in the end, was it that much of a cost saving?

Ultimately, the T was a much more practical project but it seemed kind of wasteful for them to go through the entire process of palnning the Skybus and commecing the contruction of it only to stop and go back to the drawing board. I know PAT ws under their "fast action" plan - a variation of Robert Moses' plan to get constructions tarted and underway before people can balk that way it'll be too expensive to stop - so perhaps Flaherty was bold enough to say "not so fast".

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Skybus the idea had some good points, just the whole political/pork situation stunk it up. The program was to be 100% monorail similar to the ones at Disney or the new one in Las Vegas. Only thing was with all the abandoned rail lines around town it was more cost effective to utilize those routes, not have to rip up businesses and houses, not have to "build" every inch of it from the ground up. I'm sure the plans were for it to come into downtown, you are correct on the tunnels through Mt. Washington there was actually a bridge planned for it between the Smithfield and Ft. Pitt at one point. Some think the idea was good some think the current subway/lightrail is just as good if not better. To the best of my limited knowledge it was never to be a "subway".

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