CORRECTION: A more accurate title would have read "Ethics Inquiry Undertaken"
KDKA's Jon Delano took a stroll with Sister Patrice Hughes, who was chosen by Bob O'Connor to lead the city's Ethics Hearing Board. She said:
Our preference would be to have him appear before us. I think the possibility of greater credibility with the general public would be enhanced by his response to us personally.
She is drafting a letter to the Mayor to make that preference clear.
It will surely tick off the board if Ravenstahl declines to attend next month's meeting, and sends lawyers in his stead. Video of such a meeting will show an ethics panel expressing disappointment and frustration, and the accusations of impropriety will only be made more explicit.
On the other hand, if Luke does show up -- video will show that. It is a question of self-assurance, more than anything.
Hughes also said:
We have to be non-political: only investigating, looking for truth, making wise judgements that can't ... that are based on fact, not by political persuasion.
We do not know what Delano asked to elicit this comment -- but the fact that "political persuasion" was already on Hughes' mind, might be telling.
WTAE's Bob Mayo focused more on what was said at the hearing, particularly by Rabbi Danny Schiff.
Although the Comet recalls that Schiff sat silently throughout the entire first board meeting, he was considerably more exercised this time:
It seems to me that the Mayor is certainly in violation of the codes in front of us -- not only the Pittsburgh city code, but perhaps even more particularly the State Ethics Act.
Acting city solicitor George Specter insisted that all charitable events are excluded from the code, regardless of cost or extenuating circumstance, and so Mayor Ravenstahl is in the clear.
Assistant city solicitor Kate DeSimone attempted to buttress this point:
Nobody in their right mind is going to pay $9,000 for a golf game. And the actual value of the game had to have been much lower than that.
Editorial Comments: Yet people in their right minds do. That's why they hold celebrity tournaments. The value lies not in the greens fee and the meal, but in the intimate exposure to big stars -- not to mention the very, very wealthy.
The fact that UPMC arranged for Luke to golf with Sidney Crosby, together with two UPMC lobbyists, shows that they knew exactly what they were up to.
The fact that Luke was proud that he was conducting city business in these circumstances, and that it was somehow "just like a meeting in his office," is alarming -- and confusing.
Ordinary taxpayers, who each bear a considerable share of the city's massive financial burdens, do not have such favors to pass around.
Residents who can see the U.S. Steel Tower from their own front porches, and who would prefer not to think of UPMC every time they glance toward Downtown, do not get to show our public officials such a good time.
The Ethics Board is to be commended for taking such initiative. Someone needed to bring serious concerns to Mr. Ravenstahl's attention, in a manner befitting those concerns.