Pittsburgh – The World’s Third Federated City
By Rowland A. Egger
Department of Political Science, University of Michigan
The American City. Vol. 38, June 1929. pp. 120-121.
After six years of painstaking research, the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Plan Commission has submitted its proposal for the federation of the cities, boroughs, and townships of Allegheny County in what promises to be the outstanding achievement in local government during the present decade. The charter for the new “City of Pittsburgh,” as the metropolitan region is designated, was submitted on March 11, 1929, to the Legislature, under the authority of a constitutional amendment adopted last November. The chart beginning on this page indicates the distribution of functions between the consolidated city and the municipal divisions as proposed by the Commission; on the next page is also given a list of such revisions as were made by the Legislature. This revised charter goes to the electorate of Allegheny County on May 25, when it will, almost without question, be adopted.
The Commission proposed that the consolidated city should be governed by a board of seven commissioners elected by wards, and a president of the board to be elected at large. The president was the administrative head of the city, and exercised complete supervisory and investigational powers, as well as appointing, by and with the consent of the commission, all department heads and other officers and boards provided for the establishment of departments of finance, health, safety, public works, welfare, parks and recreation, planning, public art, personnel, law, research and information, and regional transit. The Legislature eliminated all of these except finance, public works, health, law, and regional transit. The office of director of finance was abolished and his functions vested in the controller. The present county board of commissioners was continued as the governing body of the city for its first two years. Administrative reorganization and integration proposed by the Metropolitan Plan Commission was rejected, and the whole matter placed at the discretion of the commission of the consolidated city. Municipal court reorganization and the introduction of civil service were also rejected by the legislature.
Enough of the Commission’s charter is left, however, to provide substantial consolidation along federated lines. The federal principle, it should be noted, was not attacked in the Legislature; only the reform features of the charter, which threatened the control of the “organization” were excised. The Commission, and Professor Reed, its consultant, are to be congratulated upon their outstanding contribution to the science of politics, for unquestionably this federation will type the future solutions to the problems of metropolitan government in the United States.