The one bright spot in the Pew report, surprisingly, is Pittsburgh. The city and its region, once synonymous with steel, lost 120,000 manufacturing jobs in the 1980s. But over three decades it diversified. Now its main industries, health care and education, are thriving. The waterfront, once lined with factories, has been transformed into parks. Bethlehem Steel’s former home is now the site for a casino resort. Pittsburgh narrowly avoided bankruptcy in 2003, and was forced into state receivership. But it actually has a surplus now.
Pittsburgh is in relatively good shape because it largely missed the housing and dotcom booms enjoyed by the rest of the county. Indeed, it is currently building a new sports arena and a new hospital. Because of its 2003 brush with bankruptcy, it cut its city workforce by a quarter, implemented a salary freeze and made many hard decisions, such as closing fire stations. The other cities in Pew’s report could learn a few lessons from Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh held up as an example of sound municipal financial management is more than a bit ironic. Even more bizarre is the Chris Briem sighting in the article. I'm certain Chris would have shifted the discussion from budget deficits to pension funding.
Which brings me back to Craig. He brings new meaning to measured optimism. There's no reason to celebrate a budget surplus when financial disaster is lurking just around the corner. I love the positive press for Pittsburgh ... when it is warranted.