When referring to former Mayor Tom Murphy of Pittsburgh and his proffering advice about how to create an urban renaissance, the operative word is “rich” – not in the sense meaning following his tactics would produce much wealth, but in it being used as a simile for “laughable.” That’s because if Baton Rouge and other Louisiana central cities followed his course of actions, like Pittsburgh they also would become economic basket cases.
Murphy, who prior to entering elected office had a job similar to that of the nation’s 44th president, was in town to speak at the Louisiana 2011 Smart Growth Summit in Baton Rouge. Having served as mayor from 1994-2006, he oversaw a period of in Pittsburgh where the city’s economic landscape made a transition away from heavy industry. As a result, more service sector jobs, many concentrated in higher-end industries such as higher education and health care, developed.
The strategy Murphy followed involved heavy government infrastructure spending, tearing down and clearing areas, building sports facilities, and pumping money into downtown.