Sunday, October 28, 2007

quote: "the city has never looked so good"

I know this in inextricably political... but given the source there was a really phenomenal statement on TV that needs to be noted for the record. In a discussion on the city's mayoral race on WQED's weekly OffQ Friday, local Republican uber-pundit Bill Green said one of the most unequivocally positive things I may have ever heard from anyone on the state of the city. He was actually going out of his way to argue that:
"In the 40 years I have lived in the city, the city (of Pittsburgh) has never looked so good" and gratuitously broadened that statement to say many " (city) neighborhoods are thriving".

If that statement came from just about anyone else I would not have even noticed. Boosterism is always part of the public discourse, but it's inconceivable that Bill Green of all people was trying to spin a good-news-now story for the city. If Bill's views reflect popular sentiment in any way, there are real political implications for sure. No doubt he finds plenty of fault with the city and how it is being run now and in the past, but people react to the city around them more than anything else. So if Bill was even lukewarm on these points, from a purely political point of view, do any other points matter? You need to give Bill credit not shading his remarks toward a particular end. The remark came as their weekly panel was caught up in the fundamental debate over the state of the city as it relates to the election next week. The political types were mostly trying to make everything city related sound as dismal as they can be. That may be the nature of political races here and everywhere, but nothing is that simple. I would make one point as simply as I can. The state of city finances for example are what they are. I am on record as saying they are precarious now and precarious going into the future. What people confuse often is that the state of the city's municipal budget is somehow not indicative of literally every other metric about the city.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree. From an aesthetic, visual perspective, the city looks better than ever. Riverfront, greenery, little industry, and, let's face it, fewer people making a mess. And to make it political, let's note that the only real mayor we've had in the last nearly 20 years was Tom Murphy, with a little Sophie sprinkled in to facilitate the transition from Caligiuri (sp.). (I know, she did the street signs, which I love.) Could it be that Murphy knew what he was doing?

Monday, October 29, 2007 4:04:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Murphy's efforts to develop riverfront trails was admirable. Other than that, I think it's hard to judge his administration a success. His plan to redevelop Downtown was a political nonstarter. The two major department stores he bribed to come Downtown closed up shop by the time he left office. He didn't create the city's financial problems but in 12 years he did nothing to arrest them until the city was on the brink of bankruptcy.

I also bristle when people seem to be glad that the city no longer has any industry. Yes, it is good that we have clean air. But the city has never truly recovered from the collapse of steel, and while no one is wringing their hands wishing it would come back, it's nothing to celebrate.

Monday, October 29, 2007 8:27:00 AM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

I guess how you view the city depends on what you are looking at. The downtown area has very little retail left. Whether you blame the parking tax, the flight of corporate headquarters, mis-mangement of city hall, or just the increased competition from suburban malls and online shopping, the fact remains that at the street level downtown gives people very few reasons to go there. But the riverfronts are quite attractive. Some neighborhoods are experiencing mini-revivals, but usually they are small shops opening next to abandoned store fronts. I heard Bill Green's comment too, and the best thought I could come up with was to hope he would share whatever he is smoking these days.

Monday, October 29, 2007 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

I did not watch the segment. However, if you can fault the other panelists for offering discouraging portraits for political reasons, SURELY you can acknowledge that Bill Green might not have given his rosy assessment with childlike sincerity.

As to this "city has never looked better" business -- once again, it depends on where you look. If you look around the golden triangle and maybe Oakland, sure. How about the broad sections without any juice?

Monday, October 29, 2007 4:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we stipulate that, taken as a whole, and for whatever reason, the city has never looked better?

It's just common sense, really. Historic preservation, Western PA conservancy, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, etc. I'm a huge fan of government and the public sector, but I have to grudgingly admit all the private investment in the city's appearance, and promoting the city, in recent years has paid off.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 6:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every city has some less-than-attractive neighborhoods. So I think it goes without saying that it depends where you look. That would be true anywhere.

As for Tom Murphy... although his plan was a bust, I think he sparked an interest in the fate of Downtown that indirectly lead to the projects we see there today. I really do wonder if we would see so many new apartments and renovations right now if he hadn't started the ball rolling. Did he roll it properly? No, but at least he got it moving. I guess that's all fairly moot now, of course.

Thursday, November 01, 2007 9:07:00 AM  

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