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Mayor Frank Rizzo Questions.

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Someone from the Eastside explain Frank Rizzo to a Pittsburgher.

rizzo.jpg

He was only man ever to fail a lie detector test while in office?

He spyed on his political enemies with on-duty city cops and tapped the phones of ex-mayors?

He was caught with his hand in the public till for his home repairs and a luxury remodeling of his city hall office?

But he was elected twice was it? And was seen as the people's champion and the "law and order" mayor. So in a way he was a folk hero come alive for the city?

Hero or villan?

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I'd say it's because it "takes a tough man to run a tough town".

Philadelphia has always struck me as being hard to govern. You've got vast disparities in wealth, powerful unions, powerful business interests, balkanized neighborhoods, ethnic and racial groups that often don't see eye to eye, etc. Plus the city runs its own airports (PHL and PNE), its own gas and water company, as well as many other things other cities don't (the gas and water company, I beleive, was actualyl taken over by the city during the Rizzo era).

Because of that, whoever becomes mayor has to be tough as well as connected. What often goes hand in hand with that is sleaze and a knack for mowing people over that get in one's way since that's often what it takes to get to the top. That said, people often have respect for those mayors since they are seen as people who can cut through all the [email protected] and get things done. In many respects, most of Philadelphia's mayors have been that way. Rendell was simply a more palatable version of Rizzo (I know the Rendellites will beg to differ but Fast Eddie has been known for his sweetheart deals as well as dealing tough with unions and others - you pretty much have to).

Many of the Pittsburgh mayors strike me as nice guys/lady. They're less corrupt, less in your face, etc. They do get stuff done. In fact, I'd say Caligiri, Lawrence, and Murphy are/were pretty effective at getting stuff done. However, Caligiri and Murphy (not sure about Lawrence) are too "nice guy" for Philly.

I think this is why many of the big city mayors from Giuliani in NYC to Daley in Chicago to Rizzo in Philadelphia are tough guys. This is also why many of them will never rise beyond city government. They simply are not palatable to people living outside of the major cities. I think if it weren't for Rendell's knack for giving off an image as being Mr. Nice Guy, he would never had made it to Harrisburg.

This is why Rizzo, as corrupt and as unpalatable as he may be, is pretty much respected among many in Philadelphia.

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Someone from the Eastside explain Frank Rizzo to a Pittsburgher.

rizzo.jpg

He was only man ever to fail a lie detector test while in office?

He spyed on his political enemies with on-duty city cops and tapped the phones of ex-mayors?

He was caught with his hand in the public till for his home repairs and a luxury remodeling of his city hall office?

But he was elected twice was it? And was seen as the people's champion and the "law and order" mayor.

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As a lifelong true Philadelphian...meaning I have always lived within the

city limits, took a septa bus to high school, and the subway to college,

I guess I should attempt to answer a question on Rizzo.

But I can only go on what my parents said about him. I know they voted

for him everytime he ran. And he actually kept trying to get back and be mayor

after his two terms until he died while running for office again in 1991.

They liked him because he was upfront...you always knew what he thought

and he said it. They may not have agreed with him on all issues but my dad

said atleast he didn't play the fence like most politicians or follow the latest poll.

He was a real person to them who looked out for the common man. I was

a kid when he died but I do remember them being upset, actually all of NE philly

seemed to be in mourning.

On the issue of home repairs or failed lie detector test, I don't know anything

about that. But I do agree with what urbanophile says in that big cities are very

hard to govern and the parallels he draws for me are right on target.

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^^Pittsburgh has in recent times had "nice guy (or gal) mayors" but I would say they have been nice AND TOUGH, Sophie Masloff the 70 something grandmother mayor actually fought off 2 burglars in her apartment when she was in office, Murphy climbs Mt. Washington with mountain climbing gear each spring on the annual city spring cleaning, and while Caligiuri was a great guy in every way he had a heart of a lion going up against the party machine in 77 and against party boss Doug Foerster (who later ran the county like his personal fiefdom till 1995), if Caligiuri lost that mayoral race he would have been excommunicated from the party for life, instead he won and became one of the best mayors in the city's history.

Doug Foerster (county 1980-1995) and David Lawrence (1946-1959)(and to a lesser extent Joe Barr 59-70) were all politicans in the Ed Rendell "party machine politics" mold (Lawrence even became Governor in the 1960's). David Lawrence's biography is even entitled "Don't Call Me Boss", since most were too afraid or too impressed not to.

Back to Frank Rizzo though, I think although he was a corrupt and vile politician he was in many ways like a Jimmy Hoffa, always doing great things for the "working man" even if he was skimming some off the top for himself at the same time. In that way much of Philly related to him and felt that he was "there man in city hall" and not one of the blue bloods or ruling class that usually dominated city politics. With much in politics its a game of how much are you willing to spend to get your ideal candidated, and Philly it seems to me was willing to spend the honor and credit of city hall to have a man that though flawed could related to the working joe out there and the cop walking the beat at 3am.

Rizzo has consistently ranked among the 10 worst big city American mayors of ALL TIME:

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:otE_-7...2-80)%3B+&hl=en

I have always thought of him as a colorful, vibrant and yes corrupt man that did his best at running a tough city. I have always looked up to Rizzo, maybe it was because of his rise to the height of city politics from a lowly cop, and his always constant connection with the "little guy". I do hate corruption so that has always been distasteful to me about Rizzo, but from what I have seen and known about him I think he is the most redeemable person on that "10 worst" list. :)

This is something I have found on Rizzo, again this is a Pittsburgher talking so let me know if I got something wrong:

Frank%20Rizzo.jpg

Again, I don't intend this thread as a way to bash Rizzo, I have always been fascinated with the man as I have been to Jimmy Hoffa etc. It seems like he was a truly great man in truly great times, as a Pittsburgher though you either meet people that love him or hate him, so I always wanted to get lots of views on the man. Any other thoughts would be appreciated.

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