Thursday, April 28, 2005

An O'Connor Apologist?

I'd hate to seem like I'm bucking the collective will of the Pittsburgh Blogging Community or seem like an apologist for Bob O'Connor, but I've been considering the impact of an O'Connor Administration, and I'm finding things that I actually kinda like about it.

First, it has been generally said around here that Bob seems to be pretty much an empty suit, spouting off clipped sound bites rather than giving off real policy positions. I would like the mayor to have a bit more of a grasp of policy intricacies, but, on the other hand, I'd like it better if the mayor knew his limits and would just shut up. The current mayor and other politicians, to be fair, are notorious for promising things on the fly and then turning to the administration staff to find some way to meet the promises. I hate that. I'm OK if Bob will be limited to platitudes.

Actually, and this is my second point, the office of Mayor in Pittsburgh may be actually limited to platitudes anyway. With Act 47, the ICA, Council, the Legislature, and dwindling coffers, I don't actually see the mayor doing much of anything outside of fiddling with administrative changes. In my opinion, the biggest power the mayor has, after all the real power has been stripped is now his Bully Pulpit as Mayor of Pittsburgh. So, if Bob isn't saying much, I'm OK with that; it's just fewer promises that he has to keep. Just keep smiling Bob, giving away those platitudes.

Third, with so much of the power of the city now tied up with Legislative squabbles, the next mayor needs to be chummy with Harrisburg. Like it or not, this is Bob's arena and he is head and shoulders and hair above his nearest rivals on this one. The next mayor doesn't need to ask for money (although ultimately he does) as much as just get the Legislature to stand down a bit and let the City catch its breath. Confrontational (some would say idealist) mayors are not going to be well suited to that task. Further, Bob's base of support, other than his general affability, provides him enough of a cushion to push the programs that he wants for the city.

Do I think that Bob O'Connor is the best candidate for the office? Ideally, no. Practically speaking, however, there could be worse choices. Ringing endorsement right there.

In any case, the problems of the city aren't going to be solved by the next mayor anyway. There is a long series of issues that need to be resolved, everything from taxing policy, to administrative realignment, to road paving. It's a lot of work.

My advice for Dauphin O'Connor is simple: take a look at your opponents good ideas and steal them. The ideas, not the opponents. Peduto has a few, Lamb has a few, and even Joe Weinroth has had a couple good ones.

Maybe in four years, I'll be enthusiastic about a second O'Connor term.

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