December 22, 2004: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Politics: City Government: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says: Murphy jumping before he's pushed

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Special Report: Paraguay RPCV Tom Murphy, Mayor of Pittsburgh: December 22, 2004: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Politics: City Government: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says: Murphy jumping before he's pushed

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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says: Murphy jumping before he's pushed

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says: Murphy jumping before he's pushed

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says: Murphy jumping before he's pushed

Murphy jumping before he's pushed

By Eric Heyl
Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sporting more baggage than an American Tourister warehouse, Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election next year.

The continuing investigation into whether he broke the law during his last re-election campaign apparently had nothing to with his decision.

Nor did his presiding over the city's chaotic descent into near-bankruptcy.

Or his failed attempts at Downtown redevelopment that have left a good chunk of the city center boarded up.

None of that played a part, evidently, in Murphy announcing his 12-year, three-ring circus act will conclude in January 2006.

"This is a personal decision," Murphy said at a news conference attended by his wife, Mona. "I'm 60 years old, and there are lots of things I want to do with my life."

Murphy said his decision came after consulting with friends and family, but you can bet his pollster also played a large role.

Scott Peterson has a better chance of being elected mayor of Modesto, Calif., than Murphy does of winning a fourth term.

Murphy would not have defeated former City Council President Bob O'Connor en route to a third term in 2001 were it not for a sweetheart contract the mayor gave city firefighters just before the Democratic primary.

Murphy awarded the 898-member firefighters union raises of up to $12 million, increases he knew the city couldn't possibly afford. He immediately won the firefighters' endorsement and defeated O'Connor by a scant 699 votes.

The intricate interrelationship between the primary victory and the firefighters deal has drawn the attention of both Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. Charges have not been filed against anyone, though the investigation is said to be continuing.

Even without the probe's shadow hanging over his head, Murphy would have found it much more difficult this time to topple O'Connor. The mayor's longtime nemesis has all but formally announced he will run again.

Now a supporter of dramatically downsizing the fire bureau, Murphy understandably has lost the backing of its union -- in addition to the hundreds of city employees he has furloughed during his third term.

Irate city residents who have watched taxes rise and services decline under Murphy's watch also seem likely to prefer a new ringmaster. Especially those who waited hours for their streets to be cleared after Sunday's minor snowfall.

Murphy can give whichever reason he wants for stepping aside. I suspect, however, the overriding factor was a realization he no longer is electable.

There are many things the mayor wants to do with his life.

After yesterday's announcement, we can conclude that one of them is not ending his political career with the ultimate public repudiation: an embarrassing defeat.

Eric Heyl is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer. He can be reached at or (412) 320-7857.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.

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Story Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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