After his inauguration, new Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor used his first speech in office to ask for help with Pittsburgh's ongoing financial crisis. Minutes before, Gov. Ed Rendell delivered his own address, aiming to pre-empt any city poor-mouthing of the state's role.
Rendell said the city "receives $37 million more a year toward its operating budget than it did on the day that I became governor," referring to new taxes and revenue from nonprofit organizations and other sources. He added that he'd delivered $380 million in economic development aid.
"We obviously intend to help," he said after his speech. "But there are over 80 cities in the commonwealth and all of them are facing financial challenges, and we hope to be in a position to help all of them. But it's not easy."
After shaking a few thousand hands and posing for countless pictures, Mr. O'Connor said he was close to calculating the city's budget shortfall and asking for help.Besides easing the budget crunch, Mr. O'Connor outlined several priorities for his first six months.
One is getting plans for redeveloping Downtown's Fifth and Forbes avenues "done by the summer of this year."
Another is "to redo the police force," he said. "In my view, it's top-heavy. We want to make sure that everyone gets out of the office and into the streets and you know your police officer."
Finally, he wants to "redd up" all city neighborhoods by the time of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July.
Good luck Mr. Mayor on your innovative "redd up" initiative. Last one to leave the city, please turn off the lights.