Murphy: Show them there is a ‘place for themselves in Pensacola’s future’

February 13, 2018

Former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy this morning spoke to a group about sixty community leaders about how Pensacola needs to determine how it fits in the world. He said he believed Pensacola could be the “Charleston of the Gulf Coast.”

Murphy was the third speaker of CivicCon, a partnership between the News Journal and the Studer Community Institute to empower Pensacola through community conversations, smart planning and civic engagement. He spoked to packed Rex Theatre last night about public-private partnerships.

When he was elected in 1994, Pittsburgh had lost 60 percent of its population since the mid-1970s. Murphy said his mission was to reimagine Pensacola.

Four things were needed to launch his initiative:

1. Money: leveraging his budget and bond capacity to finance public-private development.
2. Land control: the City of Pittsburgh bought 1,500 acres inside its city limits.
3. Sophisticated deal making on the public side.
4. Vision: where did we want to go as city?

He believes the Pensacola has an advantage with its place-natural beauty and historic buildings-but needs to create a diversity of jobs to keep talent here.

Murphy said that change did not come easily in Pittsburgh because some were rooted in the status quo. However, he met nightly with neighbors, realizing that he would not get complete buy-in on his programs but knowing they need to see themselves as part of the city’s future.

On the importance of communication, he said, “You need to show them there is a place for themselves in Pensacola’s future.”

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  • Rusty February 14, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    An associated press story that ran only two days ago, said that Pittsburgh after 14 years was emerging from Act 47 status. Pittsburgh had entered into the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act program in 2003 (Mr. Murphy’s last term), as it was plagued by debt, pension demands and budget problems. At the time it entered the program, the city’s credit was junk-bond status. It had spent more than it collected for at least three years and had run a 5 percent deficit for two successive years.

    This was largely the result of Mr. Murphy’s spending policies. I have no doubt he is a very bright man and a visionary, but here’s to hoping our local officials don’t get any ideas to start buying up land any time soon & making “sophisticated” deals…

    • George Hawthorne February 15, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Don’t worry, to make “sophisticated deals” you would need to have “sophisticated politicians” with vision and transparency. Unfortunately, Pensacola city government doesn’t have such elected officials, These guys only meet once a month and they can’t get a simple lease done.