Ground control to Mayor Bob, commencing countdown engines on ...
I'm paraphrasing 30-year-old David Bowie lyrics because that's about as hip as you're allowed to get in the 'Burgh. And here in Retro City, Bob is the perfect back-to-the-future mayor.
I know, I know: Republican what's-his-name is running against Bob in November. Please. We must live in the real world here: There's a five-to-one Democratic over Republican registration margin in the city, and all like that.
So this is my "free advice for Bob" column. Lucky Bob.
Bob, don't become insulated and surrounded only by hacks, thugs and stooges. I love the rough-and-tumble character of many of "the boys" you always brought with you to the talk show I once hosted. But these kinda-sorta-Soprano-wannabes may not have all the answers.
Remember when I wore a chicken suit on the TV show because you wouldn't initially commit to a debate? I got a call from one of your lovable thugs saying I better not expect to get any tickets or anything from the O'Connor administration, which I presume meant tickets to sporting events. At least they didn't threaten my life, but that's some pretty low-rent low-life bush-league bullying stuff, and you don't need people who represent you acting like minor-league thugs.
Second Bob, listen to the homos. By homos, I mean homosexuals, gay people. I'm just assuming some of your advisers would use the former word, rather than the latter. Remember when you and I met at the gay and lesbian rally for John Kerry in Squirrel Hill hosted by that homo-loving-liberal Lynn Cullen (who wants everyone to know she's straight, not that there's anything wrong with that)? You mentioned you had a pretty good following in "the community" as you put it. Good. Use it. I know it's become a cliché, but a little diversity in your inner circle couldn't hurt.
While we're on the subject of folks you should listen to, you could put in a call to that Richard Florida guy. He's the former Carnegie Mellon University academic who wrote that Rise of the Creative Class book, who made the case that the artsier a city is, the better, because that makes it cool and young people might want to hang around. He's in D.C. now, but after being shunned by many of Pittsburgh's policy-makers while being courted by those in other cities, I'm sure he'd give you some free advice.
Now about this shithole we call a city. Oh, I don't mean it's not beautiful. It is. And maybe since I live on the North Side I'm a bit jaded. But there's enough freaking litter on the streets here every day (Federal Street near the dirty movie theater comes to mind) to produce confetti for a full-fledged ticker tape parade down Broadway, where they say the neon lights are bright ... brighter than the lovely dirty movie theater sign on North Avenue, which is such a source of pride among us North Siders. Murphy made a half-hearted attempt to highlight the disgusting litter problem, but since you're a nuts-and-bolts neighborhood kinda guy, maybe you could really do something. Fine the litterers. Shoot 'em. Something. Please.
Don't make the Bush administration mistake of rejecting everything Clinton did. (That's worked out really nicely now that North Korea is cranking out nukes on a daily basis, hasn't it?) Murphy did some things right, and you should listen to his people on their way out so you don't waste time re-inventing the wheel for the first year.
I like your rhetoric about the city believing in itself. We need a cheerleader. That is likely your biggest strength. Do a lot of stuff and get on the damn TV news. I never saw Murphy on TV unless it was about some controversy brewing. Then he would disappear again. You need to show up at the opening to an envelope (as I know you will). Hopefully your visibility and optimistic charisma will be infectious, or at minimum, entertaining.
Don't forget competitive bidding, Bob. Don't get caught up in some small-time scandal just to reward friends. And don't bitch when things get tough -- because you're the lunatic who wanted this gig. To paraphrase Leslie Nielsen in Airplane, which is as hip a movie reference as the city will allow, "good luck, we want you to know we're all counting on you."