2006.03.11: March 11, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Paraguay: Politics: City Government: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review : Tom Murphy says: it's hard to please everyone

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Special Report: Paraguay RPCV Tom Murphy, Mayor of Pittsburgh: June 26, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Tom Murphy (Paraguay) : 2006.03.11: March 11, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Paraguay: Politics: City Government: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review : Tom Murphy says: it's hard to please everyone

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Tom Murphy says: it's hard to please everyone

Tom Murphy says: it's hard to please everyone

He claimed as successes the development of the city's cultural district, North Shore sports stadiums, the expanded David L. Lawrence Convention Center, riverfront walking trails and the emergence of Downtown housing. Thomas Murphy, Jr., former Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, PA , served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay in the 1970's.

Tom Murphy says: it's hard to please everyone

Murphy: City's a 'great story'

By Andrew Conte
Saturday, March 11, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. - Out of the public eye since leaving office two months ago, former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy resurfaced in the Florida sunshine Friday, freed from the criticisms he faced at home.

Pitching a "no guts, no glory" approach for downtown redevelopment to about 300 people at Tampa's 10th annual Downtown Development Forum, he warned that it's hard to please everyone.

"When people make a decision, some people are happy and some are not happy," Murphy said. "It's always the people who don't make decisions that have statues built of them."

Knocked for driving Pittsburgh toward financial ruin in pursuit of his dreams for Downtown, Murphy was praised here for his no-holds-barred approach.

"You can do the popular thing and have no impact on the community, or you can have vision," said Michael Hoffman, 53, a Tampa real estate broker and native of West Newton, Westmoreland County, who visited Pittsburgh last year. "You may not have a lot of fans, but you get a lot done."

After his speech, Murphy said he cares little about his legacy. He is a sought-after speaker elsewhere, but became unpopular in Pittsburgh because of media and politicians who opposed his ideas, he said.

"Pittsburgh is a great story," he said. "People all across the country recognize it."

Like Pittsburgh, Tampa has a thriving workday population, but its downtown empties in evenings and on weekends. Developers are pushing to build condominiums, and swinging cranes stand out among the office towers.

Speaking to Tampa business and civic leaders, Murphy acknowledged his master plan to redevelop Fifth and Forbes avenues in the Downtown core was "one of the failures" of his administration. But he blamed historic preservationists and others who fought his plan.

He talked about attracting Lazarus-Macy's and Lord & Taylor to town, but not about the subsidies that lured the department stores, or the fact that they eventually left.

He claimed as successes the development of the city's cultural district, North Shore sports stadiums, the expanded David L. Lawrence Convention Center, riverfront walking trails and the emergence of Downtown housing.

He did not mention that the city fell into junk bond status during his 12-year tenure, or that federal prosecutors are investigating his handling of a contract with the firefighters union.

In a December poll conducted for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, nearly half of city voters questioned gave Murphy a D-grade or worse. If some people here view Murphy's decline in popularity as his sacrifice for trying to accomplish so much, others take another view.

Ted Baldwin, 46, formerly of Churchill, has lived in Florida for 18 years and comes back to Pittsburgh for holidays and Steelers games. He did not attend the seminar but is familiar with the city's Downtown retail area. He thought Murphy came here to learn from Tampa's experience.

"I'm surprised," Baldwin said of Murphy's booking to give advice. "Definitely. I thought it was the other way around."

Kathy and Don Waite, of Ross, came to Tampa to watch the Pirates' spring training game Wednesday. The former mayor might inspire others with his vision, they said, but not his approach. Initially, they liked Murphy's ideas for Downtown, but said he doomed the project because he wasn't willing to listen to others or to compromise.

"He kind of stuck it in everybody's eye and said, 'Here's what we're going to do,' " Don Waite said.

"I think people felt blindsided," his wife said. "When you start sounding like a steamroller, people get a little defensive."

Andrew Conte can be reached at aconte@tribweb.com or (412) 765-2312.

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Story Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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