Sunday, May 12, 2013

Revisionism, Unhistory, and Pittsburgh's Mayoral Memory Hole

If you have not see the Pittsburgh Business Times just out, the online version of the article about former Mayor Tom Murphy does not do credit to the real estate they dedicated above the fold on page 1 on the subject. I don't recall them ever running a top of the fold photo so big; go check it out. Add to that the exquisite timing to run it all a week before a mayoral election. You really have to ask if the rehabilitation of the man has begun?

If anyone ever asked me to pose questions to mayoral candidates, I could have some fun with this. I would ask the mayoral candidates straight up what credit they think the Murphy administration deserves (or doesn't deserve) in the redevelopment of Pittsburgh. (has this question been asked?)  PBT describes the Murphy legacy as vexing, and so the question would be for mayoral candidates today.  Consider that Wagner actually ran against Murphy for Mayor and Peduto spent much of his first years in office attacking all things Murphy.  The antagonistic histories both candidates have with Murphy play some not inconsequential roles in how this current race is playing out.  If the incumbent was still in the race, the Murphy animosity goes multigenerational.

If rehabilitation is at hand, it really is quite a change of course for the region.  How much Tom Murphy has been shunted really came to a head when the G-20 came to town? If you remember, one of the big talking points was how Pittsburgh was chosen in part because of the city's David Lawrence Convention Center.  Yet in all that media attention nobody ever mentioned at all  Tom Murphy's role in pushing for the building to be constructed. Whether you thought the center itself was a good idea, or a horrible idea, his complete erasing from history at that point was straight out of Minitrue.

Other than that I won't begin to add to Tim's comprehensive piece in the PBT. Given they are going to be running a monthly column authored by the former mayor, I suspect this debate is only beginning. I do have one incremental thought. No matter where you come down on the overall Murphy legacy, I am pretty sure nobody disputes his role in building the bike trail system within the city. Without him, maybe the city's bike infrastructure would have eventually gotten to where we are now, but it's hard to see how.  Clearly urban biking is something he authentically supported to include a trip on the yet to be completed Great Allegheny Passage. Stuff he was working on long before he became mayor.  I may have to restart my campaign to get the bike/ped span twinning the Hot Metal Bridge named for him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it really late 2007 that we started bandying the Tom Murphy Bridge idea? How time flies. Sal Sirabella has expressed interest in getting behind it. Do you know him? If we can have an O'Connor Corner, O'Connor Golf Course, O'Connor Playground, "Bob" Redd Up Award, and a serious consideration by the current mayor of public funding for an O'Connor statue, not to mention renaming a bridge for David McCullough, we can certainly throw up a few Tom Murphy signs on a bike and pedestrian bridge and make a City Council proclamation.

Also, WESA will broadcast a mayoral forum tomorrow night live from their studios on the South Side. Maybe you can still get them to slip in a Murphy question, perhaps related to biking too, given the audience.

Monday, May 13, 2013 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And oh yeah, the O'Connor tennis tournament, the PCRG's Bob O'Connor Neighborhood Leader Award, the Bob O’Connor JA Leadership Award and the continuing Cookie Cruise.

Monday, May 13, 2013 10:50:00 AM  

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