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The place is filling up. We're sitting next to Mike DeVanney, who played the role of Luke Ravenstahl during debate prep. He's giving us the spiel on 21st century jobs and wetlabs, as opposed to 18th century jobs like millers and blacksmiths.
A minor Romney vs. Giulliani debate just broke out around us. Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil...
A Ravenstahl administration official stopped by, saying he or she was "in the neighborhood," and requesting that we preserve his or her anonymity. We shall comply ... for now ...
Rauterkus tells us that a controller debate IS ON ... a week from today, hosted by the League of Women Voters and B-PEP... along with a District 9 debate. No word if it's going to be a tag-team matchup.
TONIGHT. A COMMITMENT 2007 SPECIAL PRESENTATION. WITH YOUR MODERATOR, SALLY WIGGIN!!!
Who did Jeremy Boren have to drug to get onto this panel??
Luke, opening: (Sorry, we're distracted. The Daily Number was 999; those are my dad's numbers. Also, DeVanney is pointing out that Sally is wearing DeSantis colors.)
Mark, opening: With a confession? Oh, he was rooting for Mayor Ravenstahl, originally. Now he's given up.
Sally: Consolidation. How?
Mark: Is for it, but wants a referendum.
Luke: City-county task force did great work. More than willing to take a look at.
Bob Mayo: Why does your budget say there's going to be a deficit in later years?
Luke: 2nd consecutively balanced budget (drink). Honored that the ICA approved his budget. (Did not exactly answer question)
Mark: Luke increased $50 million. "Let's cut through the bureaucratic code of what a structurally balanced budget is ..."
Luke: (whatever. these debates are getting monotonous)
Jeremy: Why eliminate city residency requirement for employees?
Mark: Yeah, I said that months ago. We need to give employees flexibility. "Government by folklore."
Luke: "I don't think that it's fair, and I don't think that its right." Smackina face. Moral issue.
Mark: To chain people, force people ... "Mr. Ravenstahl didn't really answer the question."
Luke: (yeah i did)
Sheldon Ingram: Do you have the stomach to lobby Harrisburg for the Ferlo-Comet-Shields position on Act 55?
Luke: "Absolutely." Except he's happy the nonprofits antied up whatever they did or did not commit to anteing up.
Mark: "General fund is a financial shredder." Would be willing to give more if it went into pensions.
Luke: "I know that's not the case."
Bob: Why should Pittsburgh's large, loyal Democratic base feel comfortable voting for you?
Mark: City gov't is not about party. It's about transparency and responsibility.
Luke: "And this is about party affiliation and this is about ..." [ASK HIM WHAT MAKES HIM A DEMOCRAT ASK HIM WHAT MAKES HIM A DEMOCRAT ASK HIM WHAT MAKES HIM A DEMOCRAT...] Luke says he became a committeeman at age 15.
Jeremy: Why don't you support the Ethics Hearing Board's new rule?
Luke: Proud of my history when it comes to Ethics Hearing Board. That board met; it was previously vacant. "The Mayor has to be at events."
Mark: "Government's not about gifts and perks." [Applause here in France] "The idea that you can't participate in charity events unless you accept a gift is just false." Ethics compliance officer.
Sally: "Do you feel you're being irresponsible?"
Luke: (Shockingly, no.) [Rauterkus: "The ethics code sucks! Write that!"]
Mark: (Making connection with police whistle blowers). "In my administration, you're not going to be punished for pointing out a wrong."
Luke: We didn't weaken the ethics code.
Sheldon: How deeply would you employ regionalism and consolidation?
Mark: "I'm with Dan Onorato on this." also, "I'd like to be the last mayor of Pittsburgh"
Luke: Does it save money and provide better service? We're picking up garbage in Wilkinsburg.
Sally: If city continues to shrink in size, is it necessary and wise to have two powerful executives?
Mark: "We can't tinker at the edges?" "Standing in the way of a referendum, as Mayor Ravenstahl is.."
Luke: I'm ready willing and able to make that decision, when the information comes in, which it hasn't yet.
Bob: something about closing fire stations if the study says so
Luke: Won't sell city dahna river
Mark: "He's had the last ten months to open the fire union contract, and he hasn't done so."; "It's been studied again and again and again and again." "That's a fact, it's out there, the data is out there."
Luke: "The reason I haven't done so is because it would cost the city money." He was approached by FOP for this and that, he stood up to FOP (boos and hisses in room).
Mark: "Hasn't been specific about demands I caved into, which were none."
Jeremy: Why should voters take you seriously?
Mark: Citizens for Democratic Reform. Get rid of antiquated row offices. Started companies. He loves the city.
Luke: Went to bed a caterpillar and woke up a butterfly. "To the north, to the south, to the east, to the west..." and then he WINKS at us. Randy!
Sheldon: Tax abatements creating an artificial demand for downtown housing. Or something.
Luke: Somebody just moved here from New York. (Somebody: "Now he only needs to get 200,000 more!")
Mark: Encourage the growth of new businesses. Continuing to invest building after building after building isn't going to create jobs. "Magnificent structures", but "no net new jobs."
Sally: Too much retail space downtown?
Luke: (sorry, ordering another gin & tonic. It didn't sound important.)
Bob: How can you cut money from budget and not have services suffer?
Mark: We ain't that efficient. Smarter use of information technology. Act 47 had access to every noche and cranny for savings.
Luke: My opponent didn't answer question directly.
Bob: Your budget says we'll dip into deficit. How to do that?
Luke: We'll do what Act 47 says. (Um....)
Mark: Opponent has offered no evidence of efficiency.
Jeremy: Was the deal with the Penguins fair, especially considering the plane trip?
Luke: No local tax dollars. Better than Steelers or Pirates.
Mark: "That plane trip was bad judgment."
Luke: Ah, I've learned a lot.
Sheldon: PILOTs for sports teams?
Mark: Something to consider. Footprints are large.
Luke: They pay parking taxes, payroll preparation taxes, et cetera. We get revenue from them. (Basically saying no.)
Bob: What's the most difficult moment you've faced outside of politics?
Luke: Friend / Family member had a car accident, messed him up bad.
Mark: Senator Heinz plane crash.
Jeremy: Pension fund dramatically underfunded. What can you do over the next 2 years that Luke isn't already doing?
Mark: Luke borrowed money at extremely high interest rates. We need to get money in there as quickly as possible. Gambling money, nonprofit money.
Luke: Mark's plan will cost the taxpayers in excess of $80 million. Meanwhile, he himself "has been very aggressive" in dealing with pensions, by way of two meetings with mayors to organize for a state bailout.
Sheldon: How to make Pgh. a magnet city for young professionals?
Luke: "Elect a 27-year old mayor!" Goofy grin. Four beats. Then create jobs and whatnot. Amenities.
Mark: "Offer incentives to create jobs." Most of my employees are under 30 years old. Eliminate gross receipts tax and payroll something tax. Also minority-targeted entrepreneurial tax increntives.
Sally: Close it up, fellas!
Luke: "Let me tell you what I see in the future." A balanced budget. Only it's not, by his own budget's admission. But maybe he means farther in the future. We don't know. We can do this whole freaking debate in our head. We almost hope there's not another one.
Mark: "It's about expecting and demanding more of your government..." "And of your mayor." "We need to take a real chance." We recovered from a fire in 1845. Give me a chance.