Monday, July 2, 2007

Good Governance Ambassador Murphy Visits Des Moines

He Knows What’s Best For That City Too

Former Mayor Tom Murphy visited Des Moines recently to lend his support to a proposed sales tax that will be considered by Des Moines voters on July 10th. Carving out some spare time from his local advisory duties outlined in his “non-prosecution deal” with federal prosecutors, Murphy warned Des Moines citizens that they’d lose out if they didn’t approve a local “Yes to Destiny” sales tax which funnels money into arts, cultural and regional attractions. “If you don't understand that, you're not going to win in the competition," he said at a meeting with Des Moines Register editors and newspaper reporters.

Some in Des Moines are appreciative of Murphy’s advice. Others are hesitant to heed a mayor who was almost convicted of using public money to buy votes in his last election. Not that Des Moines citizens have been made privy to that part of Murphy’s resume. But after comments made by City Council President Doug Shields and Budget Director Bill Urbanic were published in the Des Moines Register, hopefully many will consider themselves sufficiently forewarned.

“We’re basically in a Chapter 11 situation,” Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields told Des Moines Register staff writer Melissa Walker. “I wouldn’t call that successful.” Shields went on to say that Murphy “used phantom revenue in the budget, laid off nearly 400 workers in one day, butted heads with the council and municipal workers, and was at the helm when Pittsburgh's money woes caused it to ask the state for help.”

Bill Urbanic said Murphy's strategy caused "a fiasco with our downtown retail section" and contributed tax money to retail projects that failed.

Hope folks in Des Moines are listening. If not, and some version of “Murphy’s Law” compromises that city also, maybe they can take it up with U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan who may have been a bit hasty in paroling Murphy even before she prosecuted him.


Matt H said...

Tom Murphy was the worst thing that happened to this town and the neighborhoods.

Judge Rufus Peckham said...

Let's be clear about one thing: The city did not accumulate all one billion dollars of its debt under Murphy. He was but one of the co-conspirators in this horrible situation, going back decades. The game was to tactitly buy votes from the unions by giving them most of what they wanted. It just happened to hit under Murphy, and now the oversight boards make sure they don't add to that debt -- that's about all the oversight boards can do. Servicing that debt will become impossible at some point sooner rather than later. Anyone expecting a pension from Pittsburgh in the years ahead needs to pay close attention to this situation.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I blogged about this too.