Mayor Ravenstahl was asked about public safety, and he asked, "Can I have more than a minute?"
First we thought it was a rude request -- but then recognized it as plain eager confidence. He had a lot to say on the subject.
He boasted of putting a hundred more cops on the force, reopening West End station, assigning more beat cops and perhaps installing police cameras. (P-G, Timothy McNulty)
Challenger Mark DeSantis shot back that the staffing level of the police department was set by the Act 47 recovery plan. "It is not an initiative," he said sharply, "it's a requirement."
This caused Ravenstahl to make a huge WTF-style face.
DeSantis went on to tout features of his own public safety plan -- putting more cops on the streets instead of administrative positions, and putting many more of them through Community Oriented Policing training.
The point is, both candidates were really strong on public safety, and confident. They should hold a whole debate exclusively on crime and public safety. It would be a win-win-win.
Ravenstahl was also strong on the blight and nuisance property question.
We continue to not be impressed by his celebrated Ten Neighborhood Forums -- he is holding them what, about once a month? -- but we remember him speaking very knowledgeably on how to combat blight, and new nuisance property legislation.
After his answer, he looked all excited like he expected some applause. We would have applauded maybe, but we weren't about to start a round of Lukeplause. If some Lukeplause broke out at that moment, we would have joined in.
When the P-G board asked a "yes or no" question -- would you hire or promote anyone in the police department with abuse allegations in their history -- Ravenstahl answered no.
So he will not hire or promote anyone with even a domestic allegation in their history. Even if we don't know for sure whether the guy was getting attacked with a frying pan. Does Jim Malloy know about this?
DeSantis said he'd veto the parking tax legislation coming out of council, because it is illegal and will endanger state monies. Ravenstahl said he's still going to ask the state legislature to change things, but indicated specifically that he "agrees with Mark" on this. That was a pleasant surprise.
When casino development emerged, everybody took aim at Harrisburg. The Libertarian kid came out in favor of the Isle of Capri plan for the Hill District.
This was odd -- it was the second big community forum we attended this week at which people said "everybody" wanted a casino on the Hill. The other one was the North Side Leadership Conference meeting.
At any rate, Mayor Ravenstahl got into the thicket of community issues.
"NSLC has negotiated a fair deal," he said, and on the other hand, "Other organizations have come forward with legitimate issues."
This tacit approval of Pittsburgh / Northside United efforts was notable and a little surprising. However, he went way too far claiming that whatever meetings and discussions he has held or is holding are somehow "above and beyond."
We're not sure what would qualify as an "above and beyond" meeting, but his impact thus far has been "distant and marginal."