Music City Turns to Pittsburgh for Fine Tuning

This weekend, a group of representatives from Nashville is coming to Pittsburgh to learn about, among other things, waterfront development, improving public schools, green building, and how Pittsburgh "…was able to generate public support while planning its transit system".

Hopefully they aren’t going to devote massive amounts of time on the last point to the North Shore Connector, because that process was massively lacking in public support. Recall that the Connector moved along because of the "use it or lose it" belief of officials that the Federal money would go away if not dumped into the Connector’s maw.

And improving public schools? If the visitors look at recent enrollment, expenditure, and performance statistics they might be too impressed.

What’s most surprising is that the delegation is coming to Pittsburgh instead of the other way around. Consider that Nashville and its parent county, Davidson, have been a merged entity since the early 1960s. Its metro government provides services through an urban services district (Nashville proper) and general services district (remainder of Davidson) much like the ill-fated Nordenberg panel proposed.

After merging, Nashville’s Census population ballooned from 170k in 1960 to 448 in 1970. Since that count the merged entity’s growth has remained positive (up 21% from 1970-2000). Maybe the delegation is mad that Pittsburgh officials visited new-kid-on-the-merger-block Louisville and did not venture further south to Nashville and is using the opportunity to bring its message to the City.

A 2008 PG op-ed even noted an opinion piece that appeared in a Nashville paper by an academic whose son moved to Pittsburgh and "…among the first things that he noticed was how uncoordinated its local governments were. Pittsburgh, with more than 30 governmental entities within Allegheny County, was simply a mess".

Whether the delegation will be singing Pittsburgh’s praises or giving the City the hook remains to be seen.