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A triumvirate of mayors came to town last week to chat about “innovative leadership” at a Milano Graduate School conference. Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco was clearly the main attraction, both hailed and hated for sparking the gay marriage debate during an election year. But it was Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy who really stole the show. Irrepressibly honest, Murphy, now in his third and final term in office, laid into the Bush administration. “What’s coming next is people living in $250,000 houses on cul-de-sacs,” he said, when asked about the future of cities. “We’ve seen the ascendancy of a group of people who don’t value diversity. People at the highest level of government are saying it’s okay to be bigoted.” Murphy also spoke frankly about the football stadium he fought for in Pittsburgh, unlike Mayor Bloomberg, who studiously avoided the subject in his opening speech. “I was caught between belief and reality,” said Murphy. “I don’t believe the public ought to be investing in stadiums.” That said, he felt certain that Pittsburgh would lose the Steelers if he didn’t. “We did a referendum and 70 percent of the people said no. But I built it anyway.” Co-panelist Mayor Kay Barnes of Kansas City echoed his sentiment, but Mayor Newsom’s take on stadiums was more pleasing to the crowd: “We built Pac Bell park with no public subsidy,” he said. “And here you’re talking about $1.7 billion? Eeesh.” [04/04/05]
-C. Feldman

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