Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thoughts on that Ethics Meeting

His lack of an apology betrays a certain immaturity. -- P-G Editorial

Beaten to the punch!

We fully expected Ravenstahl to get a pass from the Ethics Board -- but not without making some acknowledgement that perceptions of impropriety are reasonable, though unfortunate.

"Although I accepted the invitation innocently and in established tradition, I can certainly understand the public concern. I am glad the City now has an Ethics Board to bring such matters to our attention, and in the future I will set an example by being more mindful of [blah blah blah.]"

But no. That might expose him to his many political bogeymen.

His answers were often transparent non-sequitors; a board member would return to the issue of common-sense perceptions, to which he would respond, "No, according to the code, I did nothing wrong."

It was particularly frustrating that he openly suggested that he might defy the Ethics Board in its attempt to bring clarity to the code, and to set reasonable Pittsbugher's minds at ease.

This was a golden opportunity for him to meet his reasoning critics halfway. A little mollifying rhetoric would certainly have impressed the Comet -- and we would have been happy to say so.

Instead, everyone who is paying the slightest attention remains suspicious and frustrated. This will only lead to more antagonistic press coverage, and the continued retardation of the political capital he so sorely requires.

If Luke is frustrated that he is not taken seriously, he should reflect that it has nothing to do with his actual age, and everything to do with his attitude toward things.


As to the Ethics Board itself, we can only guess that they are seeking to build some institutional credibility; "keeping their powder dry," as it were. Smacking down a mayor might have been biting off more than they could chew just yet-- and it might indeed have been inappropriate.

We trust they will be taking a slightly more strident tack behind closed doors, when it comes to amending the Code. This blog is not at all comfortable with rules that allow an interested party to underwrite such good times for public officials. It is a wide-open invitation to temptation.


Finally, we could not help but note that the Mayor once again testified that he accepted UPMC's invitation -- just as he revealed originally on Marty Griffin. No mention of the Penguins.

The price for one round of golf at the country club is just under $250 -- just under the limit of what a public official can accept in athletics events from any one interested party. Luke played two rounds of golf over two days.

Suspicious minds, who already feel antagonized by Ravenstahl's hard-line approach to the Ethics Code, must wonder whether the administration only retro-actively asked Mario to pick up one-half of UPMC's tab, in order to avoid some legal embarrassment.

1 comment:

  1. Seems like you and I see pretty much eye to eye on this one, Bram, so I don’t have much to add to your commentary. I don't *think* the Penguins were a retroactive addition, considering Onorato was also there, but I agree it is a bit suspicious that the Mayor downplays their involvement. Especially since this Mayor’s first instinct is to lie about things that he knows are questionable.

    I’m actually starting to look forward to the Ethics Board’s findings for the Ethics Code. I hope, and I think, that they will raise the dollar values and close the charitable event loophole. I gather this will be submitted to council, which will probably pass it and send it to Ravenstahl to sign. The only thing is I suspect the Ethics Board won’t complete it until after the election, though they might. It all depends on their indignation at being made fools of by this boy.