Oh the meeting happened all right, but from what I can tell, the ACCD has gone into milquetoast mode. Last year, I was all over the ACCD for an its overinflated sense of self-importance. This year, the self-importance remains, even if the organization wants us to believe that it's eaten humble pie. In a phrase, the ACCD now wants to be the region's therapist. It can help us feel better about ourselves.
From a pre-meeting interview by ACCD and PNC head Jim Rohr:
But with regional employment again on the rise, closing in on 2001's all-time high of 1.54 million for the seven-county metropolitan area, and attributes such as low housing costs and low crime rates, "things are much better than people think," Mr. Rohr said.
"A lot of myths that people think about Pittsburgh are just factually not the case. We're moving in the right direction," he said.
The conference tried to drive home its point that the region is perceived better by outsiders than those who live and work here by opening the meeting with a short musical number, "The Grass is Always Greener," performed by members of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.
The region needs to better promote itself and consider its benefits compared with larger and glitzier locations such as San Francisco or Boston, Mr. Rohr said.
The Post-Gazette editorial board is on board with this. I'm still a skeptic. I'd still like the ACCD to acknowledge its past successes and then bow out gracefully, ceding the stage (and the therapist's chair) to the institutions that really should exercise regional political, economic, and cultural leadership: UPMC, Pitt, and Carnegie Mellon. If you want to know why outsiders think so highly of Pittsburgh, it's largely because of what Pittsburgh is doing in higher ed and medicine.
Meanwhile, in other news that I almost missed, native Pittsburgher Tom Vilsack, governor of Iowa, recently announced that he's going to take a shot at the top job.