Once upon a time, many years ago, mayors of Pittsburgh would annually leave the confines of the Smokey/Steel City for the hinterlands of Western Pennsylvania.

These campaign-style trips were apparently meant to convey goodwill, leading to an improved understanding between the city and places like Fayette County.

In those days – we’re talking about the 1920s – Pittsburgh and the counties outside the city needed one another more than they do now.

The Pittsburgh steel industry was heavily reliant on the coal and coke harvested from the mines of the Connellsville Coke Region. Conversely, the region’s coal mining industry benefited enormously from the presence of U.S. Steel and other steel manufacturers in Pittsburgh.

Today, Pittsburgh is a high-tech/higher education/medical science hub. And Western Pennsylvania coal is long past its prime. It’s been years since coal was mined in Fayette County. Back in the day – actually, way back in the day – the county produced more soft-coal and coke than any other place in the country.

All of this is prelude to this: Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto recently spoke up for the region in the pages of the Washington Post. In an essay entitled, “We Need a Marshall Plan for Middle America,” chief author Pedutto pitched a 10-year, $60 billion federal investment strategy for Western Pennsylvania plus our “neighbors in the Ohio Valley throughout the Rust Belt and up to the Great Lakes region.”

“Rather than a ‘Green New Deal,’ our plan would seed long-term regional investments in Appalachia’s rural and suburban communities, while leveraging the technological successes of our ... cities to assist them,” Peduto and seven other regional mayors, including Mayor Ron Dulaney Jr. of Morgantown, opined.

The Peduto plan follows a proposed “New Deal That Works For Us” by the non-profit ReImagine Appalachia.

The ReImagine Appalachia plan includes $15 billion investments in such things as mine subsidence clean-up and reclamation, workforce training, energy efficiency measures for commercial and residential buildings, and upgrades to the electrical grid including the expansion of broadband.

Part of the reimagining involves reimagining FDR’s original Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, for 21st century forestry, wetlands, and farming.

ReImagine Appalachia would make the employment and training of “coal workers” a “priority.”

“Like our friends at ReImagine Appalachia ... we believe a Marshall Plan-scale reinvestment is necessary,” the mayors write.

Peduto’s Post opinion piece ends on this note: “Gen. George C. Marshall was born in Uniontown, Pa., the county seat of Fayette County. Many people in our parts of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley still take great pride that our industry helped propel the post-World War II economic boom in our country, which, in turn, gave us the resources to invest in postwar Europe (by way of the Marshall Plan).

“By emphasizing these deeply significant ties to our history, we can do for ourselves what we did for the free world.”

The Marshall Plan and the New Deal. That’s pretty heady stuff. The question is: can any of this even remotely be realized?

The odds are long. For sure, Peduto had done a good job of recruiting Dulaney and the other mayors, each a Democrat, to his side.

However, it’s clear that this needs the backing of many others: it would help to have county commissioners and mayors like those in Uniontown, Waynesburg, and Washington, plus business, civic, and labor leaders throughout Western Pennsylvania on board.

Maybe Peduto needs to mount a backcountry speaking tour, just as many of his predecessors did.

The most daunting challenge will come where the rubber meets the road. Congress will be tough, beginning with local members. A Western Pennsylvania delegation speaking with one voice seems essential.

Democrat Mike Doyle seems a likely yes vote. Flexible fellow Democrat Conor Lamb likewise. But how about Republicans Mike Kelly and Guy Reschenthaler?

Truth be told, neither Kelly nor Reschenthaler appear to be interested in advancing an agenda outside the narrow confines of grievance politics.

Reshenthaler is a real goner, a first-class resentment-monger, a rhetorical wrecking ball, and an emblem of his party’s nihilism and authoritarian tendencies. A “values” politician, he has recently taken to peddling the online sale of “resist socialism” sweat shirts and coffee mugs. As a member of a deliberative law-making body, Reschenthaler is useless. More than useless, he is a menace.

Bud Shuster, where are you? John Murtha must be turning over in his grave.

The Peduto plan hangs by a thread. Here’s hoping the thread becomes a rope, then a steel cable – made in Pittsburgh.

Richard Robbins lives in Uniontown. His recent book, “JFK Rising,” is available on Amazon. He can be reached at dick.l.robbins@gmail.com.

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