Why the Federated Pittsburgh Plan Failed to Carry: Defeated Plan to Be Resubmitted
The American City. Vol. 38, August 1929. p.150.
Official figures now available confirm the defeat in Allegheny County, Pa., on June 25, as reported on the basis of unofficial returns in the July number of The American City, of the regional government charter under which would have been set up a city of 122 municipalities, opening on a federated plan. Because of the widespread interest in the proposed metropolitan city of Pittsburgh, the following statement of facts is submitted by Joseph T. Miller, Chairman of The Metropolitan Plan Commission for Allegheny County:
“The charter was not adopted, by reason of the unusual and peculiar conditions inserted in the constitutional amendment by the opponents of the idea during consideration of the constitutional amendment in the Legislature. This requirement was that in order to be accepted by the people, the charter had to be approved in a twofold way. First it had to carry in the county at large by a majority vote, and second, and in addition to that, it must carry a majority of municipalities (or sixty-two) by not less than two favorable votes to every negative vote. Notwithstanding the fact that the charter received in the county a majority of 46,834 votes, and notwithstanding the fact that it carried eighty-four municipalities by a majority vote, it won in only forty-nine municipalities by a vote of two to one or better. Only thirty-seven municipalities were against it by a majority vote, and in one municipality the vote was a tie.
“Although The American City has on several occasions made reference to this unique proposal for a metropolitan form of government, you may wish to publish as a matter of record the following brief summary of what has happened during the last six years:
“In 1923, after a long struggle between the annexationists and the anti-annexationists, the Legislature of Pennsylvania first authorized a Commission to be appointed by the governor of the state to study the subject of municipal consolidation within Allegheny County. This Commission was appointed in 1924 and has made a report of its work to the several Legislatures since that date and in each instance has been continued by the Legislature for successive terms of two years.
“As a result of its labors in the year 1928, an amendment to the constitution of the state of Pennsylvania was adopted by the people of the state which provides for a new form of county government to take care of metropolitan necessities by taking the existing county government, establishing it as the legislative and administrative head of a federated city of smaller units, giving it broader powers and yet leaving the local municipalities supreme in their own individual sphere. It was stated in the amendment that the Legislature might offer to the people of Allegheny County a charter under which these results could be obtained, provided certain safeguards to local self-government were written into the charter which would guarantee each municipality its own continued existence, the sanctity of its boundaries and the right of local self-government in local affairs.
“Following the adoption of this amendment to the constitution, the Commission prepared a tentative charter and submitted it to the Legislature. It consisted of twenty-three articles. After many weeks of conferences and discussions the Legislature finally passed the charter in an amended form, having dropped eight sections of the original charter and rewritten two. These amendments were made by men of the highest legal ability and were adopted in order to reconcile conflicting opinions and influences. The Commission, believing the charter as amended by the Legislature to be a tremendous forward step over existing conditions, and knowing that it accomplished every purpose that had been originally intended, gave to the charter its fullest support, notwithstanding that many of the idealistic features submitted by the Commission had been eliminated during passage through the Legislature. The Legislature set June 25 as the date for a special election in Allegheny County on the charter. A six-week intensive campaign was conducted. The result has already been stated.
“The constitutional amendment itself provided that should the charter fail after submission by the Legislature, it can be resubmitted in original, new or modified form. It is the present intention of the Metropolitan Plan Commission to secure this resubmission in the original form at as early a date as the situation will permit. To present it in new or modified form would delay action until after the spring of 1931, the Legislature not meeting again until that year.