Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mayor's Race In Play (UPDATED)

Hard to avoid this conclusion.

Another poor couple of days for Ravenstahl, paired with a really solid week or two by DeSantis -- all coming just prior to debate season -- is leading to a contest whose outcome is fundamentally uncertain.


Weeks ago the city sent a direct mail piece, bearing the mayor's signature, in which he invited residents to "please join me" for Tuesday night's meeting at the Pittsburgh Project. Some 150 people attended, with some chanting "Where is the mayor?"


"It was a mistake by the office," he said. "The letter that went out was technically wrong." (P-G, Rich Lord)

The invitation can be accessed here. You make the call whether or not this qualifies as a technical and administrative mistake.

As far as we're concerned, you can forget the "Please join me." We wonder if every appearance by Neighborhood Initiatives Coordinator Jennifer Watson warrants a direct mail blast bearing such a campaign-style headline, and the Mayor's personal signature.

KDKA's Jon Delano has challenger Mark DeSantis going on the offensive, faulting the Mayor for getting North Siders to rearrange their schedules and lives for what amounted to a false alarm.

UPDATE: The story got worse. Basically, the administration told a TV reporter he was definitely not at that Red Sox game, and it turns out (we find out from the developers in Boston) that he definately was at that Red Sox game.

In fact, Luke may have been on the Jumbo Tron.


Sources indicate to the Comet that the Mayor really did not want to meet with Northside United. We surmise that perhaps Ravenstahl changed his mind about the importance of that particular community meeting, after he became aware that Northside United was getting itself involved.

The calendar for casino planning approvals is approaching far sooner than that of the hockey arena, and there is a lot more civic money at stake if the process gets slowed up.

Now that his absence has blossomed into a healthy scandal, it will be interesting to see whether or not Ravenstahl elects to meet with and acknowledge the rambunctious group in the coming weeks.


You may have noticed parallels between this story, and an earlier one in which the Mayor failed to attend a meeting of Hill District leaders in the immediate aftermath of the deal to keep the Penguins in the city.

You may also have noticed that in both cases, the snubbed citizens are engaged, organized, actively campaigning on high-profile issues ... and black.

You may be thinking that by selecting Nate Harper and Daryl Jones as his police and fire chief respectively, the incumbent Ravenstahl had pretty well sewn up this constituency.

You may be forgetting that once upon a time, the black community was duly impressed by the high-level appointments of Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice. That didn't last long at all.


Still skeptical?

Watch this second Jon Delano piece from KDKA, in which challenger Mark DeSantis unveils his economic development plan in the Hill District.

A pretty warm reception for a Republican -- and it does not appear staged or scripted at all.

Consider this alongside DeSantis's improvisational performance when unveiling his public safety plan on the North Side ("I don't want to just be seen to care -- I do care"), and you're getting the picture of a candidate who may just be realizing he is comfortable, and he has something to offer, out in the 'hood.


Incidentally, Ravenstahl was quizzed on missing that North Side meeting by the Trib's Jeremy Boren, at a forum hosted by the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Committee.

More Comet sources indicate that a 14WIDC endorsement of challenger Mark DeSantis is far, far, far from out of the question.

Do you see a picture coming into focus?


  1. I'd be interested in hearing from both candidates their views on community organizations negotiating deals with developers, especially after elected officials have signed off on the deals. And I'm really surprised that the community organizations like the Northside Leadership Conference would agree to accept such large sums of money from the developers for their own organizations and not expect that someone would see it as a conflict of interest.

  2. I don't know about you Bram but I am fired up. I'm fired up about DeSantis making his way through the neighborhoods, I'm fired up about his policy proposals, and I'm fired up for the debates.

    I've known for a while now that DeSantis was the moderate Republican candidate who was capable of winning this election. I wouldn't have been so quick to back him otherwise.

    Unfortunately there are still a lot of folks here in Pittsburgh who are willing to give Luke "a pass" because of his youth and inexperience. The good news is that some of these people are starting to give up on the kid "enough is enough."

    If you listened to KDKA radio this morning you would have heard a number of people claiming that they liked Luke but have had enough - they are thinking about or already voting for the challenger.

  3. Black people will blindly vote for Luke because they want to stay in the good graces of ACDC. Thinking that they will get something this time around. Luke could care less if blacks vote for him or even vote at all. Voting Blacks knowing this will still choose Luke.

  4. I think the "staff error" response is lame, but plausible.

    He still is the Mayor, and has the ability to call another meeting before the election, and show up ready to discuss.

    DeSantis will still have to overcome the challenge of identifying with the voters, though every day it seems Luke opens the door a little wider.

  5. The 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club will not be endorsing any candidates in the fall. They only endorse in the primary from among candidates who are registered Democrats (in their by-laws). That being said, they voted No Endorsement for Mayor prior to the primary. Similarly, the 14th Ward Democratic Committee (part of the regular Allegheny County Democratic Committee) does not do any endorsement in the fall. What individuals do in the voting booth is a whole other story.

  6. Anon 1:43 - Heard a rumor that Fatla was "actively organizing against" a C.B.A.; a little different than his public stance of "whatevs." Hear anything like that?

    Schultzy - Is Mark fired up? That's the ticket ... since he started spitting out policy he seems like it, which is new and nice.

    Anon 5:13 - With all the construction and the issues said construction entails, some of the issues are more crystal clear than ever. It's no sure thing, but 2007 has been a pretty special year for breakthroughs thus far.

    Intern - That is the kind of thing that cheeses me off. Shades of Koch in early May. Even if it is a staff error, it's his staff and he's responsible. Onorato and many others know how to take responsibility and only slyly mention it was a staff thing...

    Anon 5:59 - Huh, I was at a 14WICD thang, and two of them indicated what I said pretty clearly. You sound awful authoritative, though, so perhaps there will be a bit of egg on my face for that prediciton.

  7. I appreciate the fervent desire for a contested race, Bram, but if Mark DeSantis comes within 35 percentage points of defeating the Democratic incumbent, I will wrestle an alligator in the middle of Pyongyong Square.**

    **not really.

  8. Add being two faced to the Mayor's portfolio. He is sputting off about the FOP and the residency issue while his golfing buddy and staff member lives outside of the City.