Hundreds wait in line to greet new mayor


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At first, she said "change."

Then, Susan Meadowcroft asked a reporter to cross it out, not wanting to invite comparisons to the political enthusiasm generated by another candidate who campaigned on the word.

Ms. Meadowcroft, who lives in the Mexican War Streets on the North Side and has known Bill Peduto for years, was one of an estimated 300-400 people who lined up Monday inside the Wintergarden at PPG Place to greet Pittsburgh's 60th mayor on his inauguration day.

"I think Bill has a vision, and I'm delighted he's going to have the opportunity to bring it to life," Ms. Meadowcroft said of the former city councilman.

Dressed in attire ranging from suits and fur coats to battered Steelers gear, Mr. Peduto's admirers patiently waited for a handshake and photo, standing in a line that wound around a Christmas tree.

"They're tired of what's been going on. They're looking for an opportunity to make a difference with a man who's going to let them do it," Ms. Meadowcroft said.

Some, like Baldwin Borough police Chief Michael Scott, a retired Pittsburgh police lieutenant, were among the hundreds of volunteers who served on committees assembled by Mr. Peduto's transition team to make policy recommendations for city government.

"I just wanted to show my support for the new mayor and the initiatives he'll achieve in bringing morale and dignity back to the police department," said Chief Scott, who retired from the Pittsburgh police five years ago after 23 years and worked on public safety issues for the transition team. "The work ethic is completely different with Bill and our last mayor."

Former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl faced criticism for being missing in action during emergencies, including a massive 2010 snowstorm and a 2011 flash flood that killed four people. And three men who had served as his police bodyguards, as well as his chief of staff, secretary and two female acquaintances, have testified before a federal grand jury looking into city business.

Chief Scott, who lives in Brookline, said he expects to see an "energetic" Peduto administration that tackles a range of issues in the police bureau, which saw its former chief, Nate Harper, plead guilty in October to conspiracy and failure to file tax returns after diverting $70,628 in public money to unauthorized accounts and spending nearly $32,000 for personal use.

Those issues include accountability, training, recruitment and retention, and bridging the gap between officers and the community.

"The department has a proud tradition," Chief Scott said, adding that the police bureau includes many capable and dedicated officers. "They've gone through some tough spells. ... It's just a shame they got tarnished by a few."

Andre Young, 61, a business owner from Stanton Heights, stood in line with his son, Kierran, 21, a college student. The elder Mr. Young said he had known Mr. Peduto for 12 years and wanted three things from his administration: "Growth, stability and integrity."

Patricia Buck, a longtime community activist from Fineview who said she has worked with mayors dating back to Peter Flaherty, walks with a cane and was ushered to the front of the line by Mr. Peduto's security detail.

"Having someone who understands the city and has good relationships with everybody is very important," Ms. Buck said. "It's all of us working together that makes it work."

Shaking hands and posing for photos with hundreds of people between his inauguration ceremony and his celebration later that night at the Heinz History Center didn't strike Sue Murdock as typical behavior for a new Pittsburgh mayor.

"I think he's unique in a lot of ways," said Mrs. Murdock, 72, a retired Carnegie Library librarian from Squirrel Hill.


Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3909.

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