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Peter F. Flaherty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter F. Flaherty
Member of the Allegheny County
Board of Commissioners
In office
January 2, 1984[1] – January 1, 1996
Preceded byCyril Wecht
Succeeded byMichael Dawida
16th United States Deputy Attorney General
In office
April 12, 1977 – 1978
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byHarold R. Tyler, Jr.
Succeeded byBenjamin Civiletti
54th Mayor of Pittsburgh
In office
January 5, 1970[2] – April 11, 1977[3]
Preceded byJoe Barr
Succeeded byRichard Caligiuri
Personal details
Peter Francis Flaherty

(1924-06-25)June 25, 1924
North Side, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedApril 18, 2005(2005-04-18) (aged 80)
Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationCarlow University (BA)
Notre Dame University (JD)
University of Pittsburgh (MPA)
Military service
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1943–1946
Battles/warsWorld War II

Peter Francis Flaherty (June 25, 1924 – April 18, 2005) was an American politician and attorney. He served as Assistant District Attorney of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania from 1957 to 1964, a member of the Pittsburgh City Council from 1966 to 1970, the 54th Mayor of Pittsburgh from 1970 to 1977, United States Deputy Attorney General during the Carter administration from 1977 to 1978, and County Commissioner of Allegheny County from 1984 to 1996.

Early life and education

Flaherty was born and raised on the North Side of Pittsburgh. He served in the United States Air Force from 1943 to 1946 during World War II, reaching the rank of Captain.[4] Flaherty was honorably discharged and used the G.I. Bill to become the first in his family to attend college. He graduated from Carlow University in three years, then graduated cum laude from Notre Dame Law School and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He then established his own legal practice which included the Pittsburgh Steelers among his clients. In 1971, he earned a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.


In 1965, Flaherty led the Democratic Party ticket when he was elected to the Pittsburgh City Council. He was elected mayor in the 1969 Pittsburgh mayoral election, defeating Judge Harry A. Kramer in the primary election. In the general election Flaherty beat the Republican, John K. Tabor. Four years later, in the 1973 election, Flaherty was re-elected by winning the Democratic primary, the Republican primary, and the Constitutional party primaries.

During his seven years as mayor, Flaherty reduced the payroll by almost one third, balanced the budget each year without a tax increase or any new taxes, reduced the taxes by two mils, eliminated the wage tax for three years, and left office with a substantial budget surplus and taxes lower than when he took office. He increased the amount of street repaving from less than ten miles in 1969 to more than 100 miles in his last year in office. This was accomplished in part by using city personnel and a city owned asphalt plant instead of continuing to contract out the work.[5]

Flaherty was featured in a book on city governing called City Money: Political Processes, Fiscal Strain, and Retrenchment by Terry N. Clark and Laura Crowley Ferguson, Columbia University Press 1983. Throughout most of his tenure as mayor, Flaherty successfully opposed the Early Action Program, a project which included the development of Skybus. At the end of his tenure, the dispute over this program was resolved by a study performed through the agreement of Flaherty, the county commissioners, representatives of labor and the City Council. The study recommended the abandonment of Skybus and the use, instead, of steel wheel on steel rail technology. This recommendation was adopted by the County transit agency.[6]

Although he was criticized in the African-American community for opposing forced busing, his administration was a leader in recruiting minorities and women for top administrative posts and throughout the work force. One of his early appointments was former Duquesne University and Boston Celtics basketball star Chuck Cooper, as Director of Parks and Recreation. He eliminated the Police Tactical Police Force unit which was associated by African Americans with racism during the late 1960s and especially the disturbances that erupted after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Pittsburgh was the first major city in Pennsylvania to adopt a successful affirmative action program for minorities and women.[citation needed]

Deputy Attorney General

Flaherty was a prominent supporter of Jimmy Carter during the 1976 United States presidential election.[7] After Carter was elected, he nominated Flaherty to serve as the 16th United States Deputy Attorney General from April 12, 1977 to 1978. Flaherty served under Attorney General Griffin Bell, and was succeeded in office by Benjamin Civiletti.[8] After Flaherty left the Carter administration, he supported the Ted Kennedy 1980 presidential campaign.

Senate and gubernatorial elections

Flaherty was the Democratic Party nominee for United States Senate in 1974, losing to incumbent Republican Senator Richard Schweiker in the general election. Flaherty was also the Democratic Party's nominee for governor of Pennsylvania in 1978, losing in the general election to Republican Richard Thornburgh, who would go on to become United States Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. In 1980, he again ran statewide as the Democratic nominee for United States Senate. Flaherty was defeated by Republican Arlen Specter, winning 48% of the vote.[9]

County Commissioner

Flaherty was elected to the Allegheny County Board of Commissioners in November 1983.[10] He supported longtime Commissioner and fellow Democrat Tom Foerster's long-term goal of building a world class airport in Allegheny County. This became a reality in 1992 when a first class airport was opened and later named its terminal in Foerster's honor.

He supported Foerster and served as Foerster's intermediary with the City of Pittsburgh to build a new county jail to replace a facility which was designed by famous architect Henry Hobson Richardson in the 1800s. The team of Foerster as chairman and Pete Flaherty as the second Democrat on the three member Board of County Commissioners served together for three four year terms. Both Foerster and Flaherty were defeated for re-election in 1995.[11]


Flaherty died on April 21, 2005 in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania at the age of 80.[12] He is interred in the Roman Catholic Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[13]

Electoral history

See also


  1. ^ "New Allegheny commissioners promise new era of cooperation". The Gettysburg Times. January 3, 1984. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  2. ^ Walsh, Lawrence (January 5, 1970). "Boos Greet Flaherty's Pledges". The Pittsburgh Press (Final ed.). p. 1. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  3. ^ Warner, David (April 11, 1977). "Pete Out in Mayor Switch". The Pittsburgh Press. p. A-1.
  4. ^ "Department of Justice Nomination of Peter F. Flaherty To Be Deputy Attorney General. | The American Presidency Project". Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  5. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 19, 1979, page A3.
  6. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, p. 1, March 5, 1976.
  7. ^ "Obituary: Pete Flaherty dies at 80". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  8. ^ "Flaherty, Who Helped Carter in 1976, Moves Into Kennedy's Camp". The New York Times. 1979-11-14. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  9. ^ "Guide to the Peter F. Flaherty Papers, 1964-1995 AIS.1999.19 | Historic Pittsburgh". Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  10. ^ Wade, Chet (November 9, 1983). "Jacob defeated handily". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  11. ^ "Democratic House-Cleaning". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 21, 1995. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  12. ^ Fox, Margalit (2005-04-21). "Peter Flaherty, 80, Politician and Former Pittsburgh Mayor, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  13. ^ Obituary,; accessed July 11, 2018.


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Cyril Wecht
Member of the Allegheny County Board of Commissioners
Succeeded by
Michael Dawida
Preceded by
Joe Barr
Mayor of Pittsburgh
Succeeded by
Richard Caliguiri
Legal offices
Preceded by
Harold Tyler
U.S. Deputy Attorney General
Served under: Jimmy Carter

Succeeded by
Benjamin Civiletti
Party political offices
Preceded by
Joe Clark
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
(Class 3)

1974, 1980
Succeeded by
Bob Edgar
Preceded by
Milton Shapp
Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Allen Ertel
This page was last edited on 28 January 2021, at 05:44
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