Thursday, April 10, 2008

That Shotgun Shine (shame about it...)

"I think it deserved swift action. When I was made aware of it, needless to say, I was very concerned and not happy," Ravenstahl said. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

Glad to help.

Ravenstahl said he was shocked to learn from a Tribune-Review report that press secretary Alecia Sirk and her husband, Urban Redevelopment Authority Director Pat Ford, accepted a surround-sound system, neckties, cigars and other gifts from Lamar Advertising executive Jim Vlasach.

"We plan to obviously thoroughly investigate this issue," Ravenstahl said.

Investigation? As in, "What did you know, and when did you know it?" Best that be made an external investigation.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl gave Mr. Ford a role of unprecedented scope, serving as executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, housing authority board chairman, Pittsburgh Parking Authority board chairman until he left that post early this year, and unofficial overseer of some planning functions. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Unofficial overseer of some planning functions has been particularly troubling to the Comet, to most of the burghosphere, and to many other Pittsburghers.

Lamar has placed Mr. Ravenstahl's face or name on free billboards lauding the Redd-Up Campaign and the region's hosting of the U.S. Open golf championship. In addition, attorney Jonathan Kamin, who represents Lamar in the just-filed lawsuit against five City Council members, gave Mr. Ravenstahl's campaign an in-kind donation in February 2007 worth $2,755, and characterized in campaign finance filings as "event catering."

This is not about a sound system and cigars. This is about an administration that conspires with businesses to weaken and ignore inconvenient regulations, while punishing any and all public servants who dare cry foul. Don't miss the forest for the trees.


The Comet once published a post calling attention to Patrick Ford's swift rise through the ranks of the Ravenstahl administration. We wrote:

Considering our Mayor's very short tenure, the rapid ascension of Pat Ford should offer an excellent window into both Ravenstahl's policy preferences and personal administrative style. We also think it merits exploration of what the Ford Doctrine is all about.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Ford after our policy differences were already on the table, thanks to his impact on a City Planning hearing regarding UPMC signage on the U.S. Steel Tower.

Part I of our interview covered biographical details. Part II dealt with Ford's approach to city planning and development.

Our editorial objections to Ford's overbearing, anti-democratic role in Ravenstahl's government only deepened upon witnessing it in action at another contentious City Planning hearing -- this one regarding the new Hill District arena.

By the time the Lamar electronic billboard fiasco came around, we felt we already knew what to expect.
The Tribune-Review might easily have framed its story as "The Tribune-Review has learned..." instead of acknowledging from the get-go Ford and Sirk's motivation for reaching out to the newspaper:

Ford approached the Tribune-Review with the information. He said he was worried that local bloggers who discovered an entry on Sirk's old blog about the surround-sound system would distort the facts and use the information in an attempt to discredit him.

More importantly, no story break would have been possible without a tip and a suggestion from our esteemed and anonymous colleague, the Burgher, who went on to cover the fallout with well-deserved joyfulness.


  1. Mr. Ford,
    It is really nice to see when people like you from agencies like the Urban Redevelopment Authority, whose favorite word is eminent domain, gets into trouble. Mr. Ford, do you believe in Karma? Just think of all those people that you stole their property and gave them "fair market value" (HA!) for their properties? You never knew that helpless feeling. But maybe now, you will. Unfortunately, I only know what I have read or heard on the television, but I understand there was no ordinance for such a large billboard, yet you did it anyway. Sounds like Redevelopment Authority thinking...."Too big for their britches." Do what they want and to hell with everyone else. Yep, that the redevelopment authority I KNOW.

    I seriously hope that you lose your job and it affects future employement. You know, cramp your style, just like you did when you took those peoples homes. And you know what, YOU WILL feel that helpless feeling they felt.

    Remember, paybacks are a bitch and you can always count on it, even if it is under the name Karma. Mr. Ford, this is YOUR karma.

    Grandview Investigations

  2. who would have thought i would ever be saying "GO CITY COUNCIL GO!
    not me but I am now.

    Its like watching the Pirates lose for 16 years and this year they go on a 30 game win streak.

    Go bucs too. Maybe they should put the city council's pic in the locker room to get give them some motivation. You are only a loser if you let others make you one.


  3. As I said over at the Burgh Report .... Bram, you're the best!

  4. She committed the cardinal sin of being honest.....

    Couldn’t have said it better – Well done.

  5. You guys are great. Mark Rauterkus captured my segment with Kevin Milller on KDKA and is uploading it to his site now. I have to get moving but check it out there.

  6. Thank you for your coverage on this. Not only have I questioned Sirk's qualifications as a "Press Secretary" (I mean, who goes from economic development to media relations?), her lack of professionalism was showcased via her blog right up to her last stint carrying a Hello Kitty portfolio. Don't even get me started on P. Ford. This has got to be one of the worst couples to be making decisions in Pittsburgh. (insert hello kitty angry face)