Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cyril Wecht Quits the Club - 1977

As noted in the previous post, 1977 was a barn-burner year in Pittsburgh politics. Pete Flaherty left the mayor's office early in the year to join the Carter Administration in Washington. He was succeeded by council president Richard Caligiuri, who got the job by agreeing to sit out the May primary. In the primary, the club endorsed Frank Lucchino, but Tom Foerster won the party endorsement. In the November general election, Caligiuri ran as an Independent and beat Foerster.

Dr. Wecht's diagnosis: " ... political machines distress (the club) almost to the point of an acute psychotic breakdown ..." [Click on image for a larger version.]

According to the club's archives, Cyril Wecht had a number of bones to pick with the club through the years. In 1977, he went ballistic over the club's endorsement of Lucchino.

As reported in the Post-Gazette article above, Wecht told a meeting of Foerster supporters at the Penn Shady Hotel in East Liberty that, "The extremely well-oiled, steamroller push by the Lucchino forces says more than a thousand words about the hypocrisy, intellectual inconsistency and moral dishonesty of the club."

Wecht told the club to rescind its endorsement of him as coroner and to exclude his name in primary election literature. As the slate card above shows, the club did not honor his request. A Pittsburgh Press article from the same week reported that Wecht withdrew as a club member.

And just to illustrate the deep roots of Pittsburgh Democratic politics and loyalties, note that Sophie Masloff, a club-endorsed city council candidate in 1977, announced her support this week for Jack Wagner for mayor. (Wagner made his first run for Pittsburgh City Council in 1981.) The club also endorsed Bill Coyne for council in 1977. Reliable sources report that Coyne is backing Jeanne Clark in this year's 8th District city council race. (Jeanne first ran for council in 1989.)

1977 was 36 years ago; just to put a fine point on it. I was 14 years old that spring, riding my bike around Brentwood, listening to 13Q and "Bohemian Rhapsody"on my red Radio Shack handle bar radio. I got my AARP card in the mail this week. I threw it away.

Stay tuned for more on Jeanne, Cyril and Pete Flaherty in future posts.

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