Peduto bans politicians' names on Pittsburgh equipment


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When she was mayor of Pittsburgh, Sophie Masloff put her name on street-sweeping trucks.

Former mayors Pete Flaherty, Tom Murphy and Luke Ravenstahl had their names affixed to garbage cans.

The new mayor, Bill Peduto, has put his name on something: an executive order that says no more of that stuff while he's mayor.

The order, the first of Mr. Peduto's administration, bans elected officials from having their names placed on city property such as vehicles or garbage cans. It also requires names of former mayors to be removed, meaning Mr. Ravenstahl's name will be purged from the 250 trash cans he bought while in office.

Mr. Peduto said his name will not be "printed, painted or engraved on any long-term city property."

"City property should not be used to campaign for political office," he said in a statement issued with the order on Thursday. "The City's physical assets are owned by the taxpayers. Under my administration, these assets will be marked only with basic identifying information and the City seal."

The order does not apply to items such as stationery, office doors and necessary directional signage, and allows for the honorary naming of parks or buildings. The Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park and the Richard S. Caliguiri Plaza senior high-rise will stay so named.

The order has four "whereas" sections and seven paragraphs and asserts that "the City's physical assets should not be a platform for elected officials to promote themselves or their political careers; and ... significant taxpayer resources have been expended in the past to use the City's physical assets to promote individual elected officials."

The order also requires that city vehicles, with some exceptions, be clearly marked and have a phone number for people to call to report misuse.

Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a government watchdog organization, applauded Mr. Peduto's order, calling it "a small but important campaign finance reform.

"You have to set a tone for your administration," he said. "[This is] a good way to start."

While he was mayor, from 1970 to 1977, Flaherty had the slogan "For Pete's Sake, Keep It Clean" plastered around town, including on garbage cans. Mr. Ravenstahl caught flack for spending $252,000 in state grant money on cans that bore his name and the slogan "Taking Care of Business."

Mr. Murphy, mayor from 1994 to 2006, said "in the scheme of things, I don't think it's that big of a deal, but I think it's a fine idea" on Mr. Peduto's part.

"It's just a time-worn activity," he said. "I see it everywhere I go. In Chicago, you saw the Daley name everywhere," a reference to former mayor Richard M. Daley.

As for having his own name posted, Mr. Murphy said, "It's not something that I asked to have done."

Soon after Ms. Masloff became mayor in 1988, the slogan "Sophie's Choice -- A Clean City" began to appear on new street-sweeping equipment and trash cans.

The former mayor said she ordered the purchase of the sweepers because she thought the streets were filthy, and had her name placed on them for "no special reason, except I wanted it to be a matter of public information."

As for Mr. Peduto's action, Ms. Masloff was not impressed.

"It's a waste of time and money," she said.

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.


Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published January 16, 2014 1:45 PM

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