Peduto vows reform as Pittsburgh mayor

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The atmosphere was celebratory, filled with music and rousing poetry, but Bill Peduto noted that his inauguration as Pittsburgh’s 60th mayor is not the culmination of anything, it is the beginning, and any celebration would be held years from now as future generations benefit from an administration he pledged would be guided by accountability, responsibility and sustainability.

“I understand that my election doesn’t complete the task of setting things right,” he said. “It only offers us the chance to begin. So let us begin.”

With 2,000 or so well-wishers, politicians and union officials happy to be attending the event in Heinz Hall instead of on the City-County Buidling steps in 4-degree weather, the “us” theme of creating the next Pittsburgh was highlighted throughout the Jan. 6 ceremony.

From the performance of “It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood” by the CAPA High School choir and Joe Grushecky, and the highlight of Vanessa German’s inspiring spoken word performance that noted “the city is ours today,” to the remarks of Catholic Bishop David Zubik exhorting the new mayor to “fashion a government with the people, for the people and by the people,” togetherness was featured.

And the 49-year-old Peduto–after taking the oath of office from Senior Superior Court Judge Justin Johnson, hand on his late brother Max’s Bible–continued the theme, noting that two weeks earlier hundreds of ordinary citizens on his advisory committee had handed him “eleven-hundred pages of inspiration.”

“In the coming months, I will take many of those ideas and turn them into an agenda for the future,” he said.

Peduto pledged his administration would be accountable in that it will be “open in every possible way” and all hiring will be based on merit.  He defined sustainability as creating a “culture of governance that will last beyond any one administration…all the while guarding the land, waters and sky we share with the rest of the world.”

But when it came to defining his administration’s responsibility, he looked at former Mayor Tom Murphy sitting among the VIP invitees and said, “Responsibility means facing facts as they are, especially our financial realities. I take office in a city still recovering from the disastrous effects of spending money it did not have on things it could not afford.  As a result, we are under a state recovery plan.  I promise that when the day comes to declare ourselves fully restored, that declaration will be grounded in solid fact, and not in wishful thinking.”

Peduto did not acknowledge Murphy by name, nor did he mention former mayor Luke Ravenstahl when he noted “scandal has caused us to wonder if government can again be a force for true progress.”

“The policies that undermine growth—corruption, self-dealing and disregard for the common good—are the very ones that doom a city to economic failure,” he said. “I tell you now, there is nothing wrong with the institutions of this city that cannot be repaired by good faith, square dealing and hard work…That is the city we deserve. This is the city we can be. Together we can build the next Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to get started.”

He didn’t take long. After leading his cabinet on a short parade to PPG Place where he greeted hundreds of supporters, the mayor held a press conference with Public Safety Director Michael Huss on the city’s preparations for the -10 degree temperatures due to hit the next day.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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