Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday: I Feel the Earth. Move.

Here's an interesting dynamic that we just learned about:

A lot of people seem to be talking down any likelihood of anybody conceivably unseating Luke Ravenstahl in 2009 because a surprising number of them fancy themselves the one who ought to be challenging Luke Ravenstahl in 2009.

That's all great fun, but if all the potential challengers play this game long enough, they are likely to end up psyching each other and everybody else out equally. And then no one actually runs against him.

That would be a very Luke Ravenstahl thing to happen to Luke Ravenstahl.


So if anyone happens to be collecting stories of city initiatives that get kicked off to great fanfare but are never executed, here is another one. (P-G, Rich Lord)

"We're very close," said Public Safety Director Michael Huss, attributing the delay to the challenges of hiring clerks and preparing Web pages.

Bill Peduto sounds critical. Darlene Harris sounds confused. Jim Motznik (even) sounds disconcerted.

"It's gone on longer than I wanted it to," said Mr. Huss. "Internally, it kind of got bounced around."

I told the same thing to my 7th grade English teacher all the time. I should have thought to get my Public Safety Director to say it for me.


Maintaining that there's no problem with the way the city awards contracts, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced yesterday the creation of a panel to bring in the best governmental practices. (P-G, Rich Lord)

"Maintaining that there's no problem" isn't going to fly with anyone, but openly acknowledging the existence of these kinds of "problems" is a little too much to ask of anybody.

"Mr. Mayor, have you been a dirty politician?"

"To a degree, yes, but not nearly as dirty as people are saying. However, this effort will help me to become more ethical more of the time."

Patrick Dowd and Ricky Burgess were appointed to Ravenstahl's panel, which is as good an indication of what's going on dahn City Hall as anything.

Kraus, Peduto and Shields obviously were not named for fear they would politicize the thing up too badly. Deasy, Harris, Motznik and Payne were not named because -- why? The mayor feels they would not be perceived as credible?

The political opportunities for Dowd and Burgess should be obvious -- they can be seen to help reform city government, and they should find the Mayor even more likely to support their own agendas.

There are also political risks. What if the board is demonstrated to be ineffective? What if it can only manage to provide a veneer of cover for ongoing political self-dealing in city contracting? What if, in the fullness of time, it is used to justify maneuvers with which the council members would not like to be associated?

The best move these two can make might be to take an increasingly vocal, hard-line stance on that panel -- towards not only transparency but extending to other forms of contracting regulation, until they get booted from that board at the Mayor's discretion at some later date. It's not like it's an Authority board position, or anything of significant value.

"Contractors should be required to disclose any relationships that they have with representatives, or lobbyists, or people who are helping them get business with the city," suggested Controller Michael Lamb, who was not named to the panel.

Sounds almost as though Mr. Lamb feels he should be on the panel. It's not much of an intergovernmental effort. Everyone on the panel has motivation to be deferential to the Mayor.

At any rate, the Trib and Jeremy Boren captures things precisely in their lead paragraph. That is in fact the news.


It's kind of a must-read post, if property taxes and basic fairness mean anything to you. (Pgh Is A City)

Yes yes yes. We are inviting pastors to snitch. Can we start doing so real quiet-like??? Maybe starting right now? (P-G, Edit Board)

More whittling away. (Trib, Tim Puko)

When exactly did ACORN become Al-Qaeda in America? (Trib, Edit Board, and every other right-of-center human being in the country)


  1. Actually, recent history shows that the opposition's problem is failure to come to a consensus before the primary process. When six or eight people run against an incumbent who hasn't killed a man on live TV, it's almost impossible to beat him.

    If folks want Luke out badly enough, they'll set egos aside and write a few political IOU's in order to limit the number of challengers.

    Distasteful in its own way? Yes. But I can pretty much assure you that (barring more revelations) he's not going down if there's a big field of the same tired challengers (Peduto, Lamb, etc).

  2. Setting egos aside is not an option. What else have you got?