2006.07.03: July 3, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Paraguay: Politics: City Government: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Feds agree not to prosecute in return for Tom. Murphy's acknowledgement that he traded a generous contract for the support of the firefighters union

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Special Report: Paraguay RPCV Tom Murphy, Mayor of Pittsburgh: June 26, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Tom Murphy (Paraguay) : 2006.07.03: July 3, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Paraguay: Politics: City Government: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Feds agree not to prosecute in return for Tom. Murphy's acknowledgement that he traded a generous contract for the support of the firefighters union

By Admin1 (admin) (adsl-69-150-133-223.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 69.150.133.223) on Friday, July 07, 2006 - 10:32 am: Edit Post

Feds agree not to prosecute in return for Tom. Murphy's acknowledgement that he traded a generous contract for the support of the firefighters union

Feds agree not to prosecute in return for Tom. Murphy's acknowledgement that he traded a generous contract for the support of the firefighters union

In April 2001, Mr. Murphy attended a meeting at Larry's Roadhouse with his campaign manager David Caliguiri, Arlington neighborhood activist Michele Balcer and Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Local 1 President Joseph King. On April 30, Mr. King wrote to union members that he'd reached agreement with the city on contract basics that would preserve jobs and raise wages between 4 percent and 8 percent. Mr. King later estimated that the raises would have cost the city $10 million to $12 million over four years, had the deal not been trimmed after 2002. At around the same time, the 870-member union switched its endorsement from then City Council President Bob O'Connor to Mr. Murphy. Thomas Murphy, Jr., former Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, PA , served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay in the 1970's.

Feds agree not to prosecute in return for Tom. Murphy's acknowledgement that he traded a generous contract for the support of the firefighters union

Former Mayor Tom Murphy heads into the record books (with an *)

A strange deal with the feds was the latest twist in a career that began with activism, ended with aloofness

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
An analysis by Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In a city renowned for political horse-trading, Tom Murphy preferred to travel by foot: walking door-to-door, retailing himself as a leader beyond politics, a youthful voice of reform in a town he said was slowly dying from doing things the old way.

Now, with a two-year federal probe ending in a strange agreement not to prosecute in return for Mr. Murphy's acknowledgement that he traded a generous contract for the support of the firefighters union, a self-made reform politician goes into the record books with an asterisk.

This was a former seminarian and Peace Corps volunteer who in 1975 got chucked into the back of a police wagon when, he says, he stopped to help a group of youths who were being beaten by police.

In 1989, Mr. Murphy, then a state legislator from the North Side, came in a surprising second in the Democratic mayoral primary to incumbent Sophie Masloff, beating three others, including the favored county Controller Frank Lucchino.

Elected mayor four years later, he succeeded in building two stadiums and a new convention center. But in the course of those successes, the often aloof Mr. Murphy alienated old friends and newfound allies, finally losing both his political edge and his reformer's label.

"The dark side of the force is strong. I don't know how much it was Tom or how much it was the system that pushes people," said Mark Fatla, who entered Mr. Murphy's orbit during his days at the Community Technical Assistance Center, part of the stew of community groups with whom Mr. Murphy built his early base.

Mr. Fatla recalled Election Night 1993, when the room was filled with community activists drawn to the campaign.

"By the first re-election campaign, those persons were not active or their participation had been reduced," Mr. Fatla said. The first signs of problems were budget cuts for community groups, he said. Later, it was access.

"I think as he became enmeshed in the bigger issues in the mayor's office, it got harder and harder to talk to him, but it got much harder to hold his attention. And when you did talk to him you got the sense that his mind was already made up, that he wasn't open any longer to what you were telling him. I think that was the change," Mr. Fatla said.

To many who saw the transformation, Mr. Murphy's disaster was caused by his straying from his political base and embracing another -- the more traditional city politics with which he never felt comfortable and whose practitioners never quite accepted him.

Mr. Murphy and his chief lieutenant, Executive Secretary Tom Cox, cut their teeth as North Side community developers. In the idealistic atmosphere of the early 1970s, he should have fit in -- but didn't.

"Tommy was not a reformer. Tommy was a loner. There's a big difference," said Bob Cohen, a Shadyside consultant who preceded Murphy as director of the North Side Civic Development Council.

Tom Murphy was first elected a state representative in 1978. Mr. Cohen, who now advises clients in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, views Mr. Murphy's management style as both his strength and weakness. Appointed to the chairmanship of the Insurance Committee in the state House, Mr. Murphy disappointed party leaders by refusing to raise campaign funds from lobbyists who did business with the committee, a long-standing Harrisburg practice Mr. Murphy found repugnant. Caucus politics did not interest him.

"Tommy was the world's worst politician," said Mr. Cohen.

In 14 years as a state representative, Mr. Murphy strengthened his reputation as a neighborhood builder, but never became a coalition builder.

Instead of making the Harrisburg tavern circuit, where lobbyists and legislators share drinks and ambitious legislators map out deals, Mr. Murphy's work in the house was literal. He spent his evenings rehabbing a rundown house he co-purchased with four other members for $4,000 at 1616 Green St. in Harrisburg.

"He would stay back and work on that house. He wanted the neighborhood to look better," said Allen Kukovich, one of the residents at 1616 Green.

Mike Dawida, another legislator who entered the House the same year as Mr. Murphy, and with whom he aligned himself politically, recalled his colleague as an idealist capable of spotting important policy issues, but not adept at working the legislative levers to bring them about.

"He wasn't always good at working with the Legislature. Others would have to take up the ideas," Mr. Dawida said.

Mr. Murphy's biggest weakness, Mr. Dawida said, was a failure to listen.

"Reformers tend to be people who listen. He didn't cultivate that talent very well," Mr. Dawida said. "It got a lot worse in the mayor's office."

Dan Cohen, who served on City Council during Mr. Murphy's tenure as mayor, remembers a man who rarely initiated contacts on his own.

"There was an aloofness," said Mr. Cohen, who now works as a telecommunications lawyer. "Was Tom a politician? Not as we typically use the term. He was the anti-politician."

That anti-politician posture would sometimes frustrate Mr. Murphy's supporters. His staff would sometimes be frustrated that, during fund-raisers, the mayor didn't seem to know who his biggest donors were.

For that matter, he didn't always know when his fund-raising events were scheduled, said Sal Sirabella, deputy mayor under Mr. Murphy.

On one occasion, Mr. Sirabella recalls Mr. Murphy returning from a run and saying, " 'You know what? I think we have a fund-raiser tomorrow. Isn't it great that we don't even know when our fund-raisers are?' "

Some Democratic ward leaders gradually became disenchanted. "The only time he knew my name was when he was up for re-election," said Barbara Ernsberger, who has chaired Shadyside's 7th Ward Democratic Committee since 1994 and who was elected city Democratic chair during Mr. Murphy's administration.

She recalls putting in a phone call to the mayor's office to suggest a meeting between Mr. Murphy and the Democratic committee.

"I was told we were not on his agenda," she said.

A partnership with Allegheny County Commissioners Mike Dawida and Bob Cranmer helped Mr. Murphy build two new stadiums and a convention center. That, too, frayed.

One notable moment came Sept. 29, 1998, when government buildings along Grant Street were evacuated when an unexplained noxious odor wafted through. City and county emergency officials didn't communicate with each other, even though they shared some of the same buildings. The ensuing turf battle between the city and county climaxed when Mr. Murphy announced he was calling off plans to merge the city's 911 center with Allegheny County's.

Mr. Dawida was stunned by the reaction.

"I guess what I'm saying is there were these issues that popped up from time to time when a little bit of listening would have done the guy some wonders," Mr. Dawida said.

Relations with City Council were strained, thanks to both fiscal constraints and Mr. Murphy's infrequent communication with council, said Dan Cohen.

Then came the publicly financed construction of two new stadiums despite taxpayer resistance, and the mayor's controversial effort to revitalize Downtown's Fifth and Forbes retail district.

Mr. Murphy wanted to seize properties and turn them over to a Chicago developer. "We asked for an open process, and in fact it was a closed process," said Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. A Murphy enthusiast in 1994, Mr. Ziegler joined the many vocal critics of the Fifth and Forbes plan.

Mr. Dawida sees Fifth and Forbes as the turning point leading to Mr. Murphy's slide.

"He had invested a lot of his capital in it because the Downtown of Pittsburgh was always a kind of showplace," Mr. Dawida said. "It was the public perception that this was a very important thing and then it never happened."

When retailer Nordstrom pulled out, Mr. Murphy abandoned the plan. But with his neighborhood base disenchanted, and his foes energized, the mayor had to build a new base.

He reached out to firefighters.

In April 2001, Mr. Murphy attended a meeting at Larry's Roadhouse with his campaign manager David Caliguiri, Arlington neighborhood activist Michele Balcer and Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Local 1 President Joseph King.

On April 30, Mr. King wrote to union members that he'd reached agreement with the city on contract basics that would preserve jobs and raise wages between 4 percent and 8 percent. Mr. King later estimated that the raises would have cost the city $10 million to $12 million over four years, had the deal not been trimmed after 2002.

At around the same time, the 870-member union switched its endorsement from then City Council President Bob O'Connor to Mr. Murphy.

"I told Tom at the time I thought it was a bad deal. But he didn't often listen," Mr. Dawida said.

Mr. Sirabella doesn't think the fire union's endorsement decided the 2001 primary, which Murphy won by 699 votes.

Nonetheless, had 350 people -- firefighters or otherwise -- moved from Mr. Murphy's to Mr. O'Connor's column, the former wouldn't have had to contend with a budget meltdown and, presumably, last week's odd settlement that suggested Mr. Murphy had done something if not indictable, at least wrong.

To some old friends, it seems almost as if Mr. Murphy's lack of skill in the kinds of insider dealing he so flatly rejected starting with his Harrisburg days, might have left him unprepared for the junctures at which politics and governance sometimes merge.

"It would seem to me that there are some people who might be what's described as wheeler-dealers in political jargon, who might know how to handle those situations better, perhaps, than someone who's not used to figuring out how to deal with tough contracts when there's an election coming up," said Mr. Kukovich. "It takes someone with rare skill. For someone who's not adept at that sort of thing, I guess it can be a problem."

It remained for Mr. Dawida to sum up the paradox of his old friend: "He was bullheaded, stubborn and opinionated. But he wasn't ever dishonest. This kind of thing implies that he was and he wasn't."

(Staff writer Rich Lord contributed. Dennis Roddy can be reached at 412-263-1965 or droddy@post-gazette.com. )





When this story was posted in July 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:


Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Jody Olsen is acting Peace Corps Director Date: June 30 2006 No: 920 Jody Olsen is acting Peace Corps Director
The Senate confirmed Gaddi Vasquez to head the FAO on June 30. Jody Olsen will be acting Director until the President makes a permanent appointment. Olsen has been Deputy Director of the Peace Corps since 2002. She has previously served as Chief of Staff for two directors, as regional director for North Africa, Near East, and Asia and the Pacific, and as country director in Togo. She served in Tunisia as a PCV.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

Changing the Face of Hunger Date: June 28 2006 No: 915 Changing the Face of Hunger
In his new book, Former Congressman Tony Hall (RPCV Thailand) says humanitarian aid is the most potent weapon the United States can deploy against terrorism. An evangelical Christian, he is a big believer in faith-based organizations in the fight against hunger. Members of Congress have recently recommended that Hall be appointed special envoy to Sudan to focus on ending the genocide in Darfur.

PC will not return to East Timor in 2006 Date: June 8 2006 No: 913 PC will not return to East Timor in 2006
Volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability. Latest: The Peace Corps has informed us that at this time, the Peace Corps has no plans to re-enter the country in 2006. The Peace Corps recently sent a letter offering eligible volunteers the opportunity to reinstate their service in another country.

Chris Dodd considers run for the White House Date: June 3 2006 No: 903 Chris Dodd considers run for the White House
Senator Chris Dodd plans to spend the next six to eight months raising money and reaching out to Democrats around the country to gauge his viability as a candidate. Just how far Dodd can go depends largely on his ability to reach Democrats looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton. PCOL Comment: Dodd served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and has been one of the strongest supporters of the Peace Corps in Congress.

The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan Date: June 6 2006 No: 912 The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan
Probably no RPCV has done more to further the Third Goal of the Peace Corps than John Coyne with the Peace Corps Writers web site and newsletter that he and Marian Haley Beil have produced since 1989. Now John returns to writing about his first love - golf in "The Caddie who knew Ben Hogan." Read an excerpt from his novel, an interview with the author and a schedule of his book readings in Maryland and DC this week.

Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee Date: June 3 2006 No: 905 Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee
Director Vasquez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination as the new Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture replacing Tony Hall. He has been the third longest serving Peace Corps Director after Loret Ruppe Miller and Sargent Shriver. PCOL Comment: Read our thanks to Director Vasquez for his service to the Peace Corps.

First Amendment Watch Date: May 4 2006 No: 883 First Amendment Watch
Maine Web Report hit with Federal Lawsuit
Website wins trademark suit against Jerry Falwell

Interview with a Hit Man Date: April 25 2006 No: 880 Interview with a Hit Man
RPCV John Perkins says that for many years he was an "economic hit man" in the world of international finance whose primary job was to convince less developed countries to accept multibillion dollar loans for infrastructure projects that left the recipient countries wallowing in debt and highly vulnerable to outside political and commercial interests. In this exclusive interview for "Peace Corps Online," Colombia RPCV Joanne Roll, author of Remember with Honor, talks to Perkins about his Peace Corps service, his relation with the NSA, "colonization" in Ecuador, the consequences of his work, why he decided to speak out, and what his hopes are for change.

PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended Date: April 14 2006 No: 872 PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended
Director Vasquez announced the temporary suspension of the Peace Corps program in Chad on April 14 and that all 29 Peace Corps volunteers have left the country. With a program dating back forty years (See Page 4 of the April 1966 "Peace Corps Volunteer"), RPCVs hope that volunteers can return to Chad as soon as the situation has stabilized. Congratulations to the Peace Corps for handling the suspension quickly and professionally.

Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request Date: April 12 2006 No: 869 Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request
The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Peace Corps has blocked their request for information on the Volkart case. "After the Tidings requested information pertaining to why Volkart was denied the position on March 2 the newspaper received a letter from the Peace Corps FOIA officer stating the requested information was protected under an exemption of the act." The Dayton Daily News had similar problems with FOIA requests for their award winning series on Volunteer Safety and Security.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.


Read the stories and leave your comments.






Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Paraguay; Politics; City Government

PCOL33439
09


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: