Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Am Voting For This Ticket

Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't that be totally fabulous?

That's a government I could seriously get into -- compassionate and process-oriented, radical and professional, earnest and innovative. United behind a consensus (brought about by circumstance, perhaps) that it's time to give politics a rest when it comes to operating the city.

It is remarkable how well Ms. Robinson and Mr. Dowd play into one another's strengths and weaknesses. I'm not sure a Hollywood director or a political boss could have scripted a better twosome.

Dowd could still stand to reassure Pittsburghers of modest means, African-Americans, and voters who appreciate straight and clear talk that he's intent on addressing their concerns and enacting profound reform. Robinson could still shore up perceptions that she is knowledgeable about all aspects of city government, and that she's prepared to run a vast and complex administration through very uncertain times.

Having them both present fills me with hope for Pittsburgh's future. If we can populate our government with folks like this, generally, we'd be okay -- or we could at least move on to newer and more interesting challenges.

Of course there is the issue of practicality.

Looking at this as coldly and as analytically as possible, headed in to the Community Safety Forum this evening I am already having trouble thinking of excuses not to vote for the Sergent. I can think of many multiple reasons to vote for Patrick Dowd, but on the other hand I can think of maybe a couple reasons not to as well.

Chief among these is pure gamesmanship. The African-American vote is owned by Luke Ravenstahl and is least likely of all to go to Dowd. The only way that changes is if Carmen Robinson experiences a surge in popularity and support, brought about by an event or two, by which the Iowa / Obama "It can really happen!" factor might kick in. My sense is the white progressive vote is more likely to get on board with Robinson, with a little assistance, than the disenchanted black vote migrate to Dowd.

It is true that I have already endorsed Patrick Dowd on his campaign website -- and I still do, I stand by every word. I think he'd make a thoroughly awesome mayor, despite what some stubbornly partisan, all-or-nothing progressives continue to murmur about him.

But that doesn't mean I can't also endorse Carmen Robinson as an excellent prospect for mayor -- in some ways she aligns with my agenda even more closely. And most importantly, it doesn't mean I've remotely made up my mind on who is the best bet. I expect that to be made at least a bit more clear in the near future.

I'm looking forward to it. Just thinking about Pittsburgh under the leadership of these folks is an enjoyable activity.


  1. I was going to write about some very similar topics today Bram. Here's the gist:

    1. I kind of want to vote for Robinson, too, but at this point we're looking at which "not-Ravenstahl" candidate has the best chance to win. You hate to approach an election that way, but that's just the nature of the beast.

    And right now, Dowd appears to have the better chance.

    2. Regardless of what happens in the election, Carmen Robinson has proven herself to be an important voice that should have a place in city government. Whoever gets elected would be well-served to get her involved. I hope she doesn't slide back into the private sector after the election, because I believe she can do some good work for this city.

  2. There's a long hanging allegory with the Wire, Season Four, here. I just can't hit it exactly.

  3. The Wire is an allegory for everything that happens in this city. Much of my personal philosophy on city government/politics/operations/living is influenced and guided by The Wire.

  4. Bram is a tool.

  5. Yeah, I was laughed at by anonymous jagoffs like that last commenter when I posted on The Burgh Report that Carmen Robinson "could be the ideal candidate to take on and defeat Luke Ravenstahl" in the '09 Democratic primary. That was before Dowd entered the race, obviously, but I think Carmen has proven that she should be taken seriously and, hopefully, she will get another shot at a local office in the near future.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. ... (typo fixed w delete above) ...

    Bram wrote, in part: "it's time to give politics a rest when it comes to operating the city."

    That's just B.S. Grow up already.

    Politics and governance go hand in hand -- unless you live in Havana, I guess.

    We need a wise brand of open-minded politics working within the leadership and citizenship for Pittsburgh to flourish.

    And, we don't need folks to give up endorsements before they think it through -- as Bram seems to have done.

    The done deal mentality is what rests at the depths of the rut that Pittsburgh resides.

  8. Rauterkus added: "That's just B.S. Grow up already."

    Mark, in a few weeks I'm going to start leaving comments on your blog in the same manner you sometimes enjoy leaving comments on mine. Perhaps you'll notice that it can be very irritating. I expect and enjoy that kind of treatment from the anonymous hacks who grind the axes of the ACDC or similar, but I don't understand it from fellow bloggers.

    Now as to your exception. Obviously I have never been opposed to politics driving legislation or affecting policy from the top; that's called democracy. But when it comes to operations, then yes, I do think it's high time we gave politics a rest. The Law Department, City Planning, Building Inspection -- these are professional functions, and the city code provides an instruction manual that covers everything. 98% of it can be executed without someone like Zober micromanaging the operation, suspending certain procedures, inserting others, rearranging the leadership chart, or making sure no one who opposes the administration and its allies gets any benefit from the government -- and that those who have been helpful gain extra consideration.

    There's a place for politics in government, but it's not called 'everywhere'.

    You say "Grow up", I say "Wake the F#$% up" -- other cities also have local governments, and YES VIRGINIA, THEY HOLD THEMSELVES TO CERTAIN STANDARDS. IT IS POSSIBLE.

    Pittsburgh is a unique outlier when it comes to the degree to which we meekly accept horseplay as inevitable as the rising sun.

  9. Dowd would seem to have a slightly better chance to defeat Ravenstahl than Robinson does, but neither is likely to suceed. Ravenstahl will likely win with at least a plurality, if not an out right majority. I don't know if Robinson will even get into the double digits. This is just my opinion, by the way, my prediction.

    But I will say this, if Robinson dropped out of the race, in exchange for Dowd agreeing to make her his chief of staff (and/or deputy mayor, if such a thing is allowed) if elected, that might change the dynamic. Then they could campaign together (and try to work out a joint strategy). This would automatically give Pat Dowd a woman and minority at the highest level of his administration. And maybe Pat Dowd could pick up some of the African American vote, which it could be argued that Ravenstahl takes for granted.

    Of course this won't happen, but it should, since Dowd and Robinson are likely to lose anyway, and thus could only gain from this sort of gutsy play.

  10. Ed - I was actually toying with the exact reverse idea.

  11. If Dowd and Robinson, rather than hook up as running mates to one or the other for the May 2009 primary, pledged to defeat Ravenstahl in the 2009 general election, by serving as running mates for another candidate in the general -- should neither prove to triumph in mid-May, -- THEN we'd have something to cheer about.

    That would make a huge difference.

    When sloppy, bring on the remarks.

    Good reply Bram about how you meant "operating the city."

  12. Wow, I normally try to avoid comments on this site (in spite of my respect for Bram) because of the anonymous rift raft. As to the debate, I think removing politics completely from operations is naive. However, I ALSO believe you say it over and over yell it again and again until you're horse. The closer you come to perfect the better the city so you strive for perfection.

    Mark, your blog regularly advocates the election of libertarians (for obvious reasons). I'm not sure which is less likely, completely politic free operations or a libertarian mayor. That being said, the thought of Dowd and Robinson backing some reasonable republican or independent (Dok?) is interesting.

  13. I advocate for a lot of different folks in electino quests. Some are Ls, but few are. Few Ls really ever run, or get the chance to due to ballot access measures. But, this is another point for another day.

    There won't be a "R" in the mayor's race in 2009, unless one pulls another rabit out of the hat with a write-in as Mark DeSantis did. However, getting Dowd and/or Robinson to back an "R" is going to happen after pigs fly.

    It would be best if there is NO "R" on the ballot. Likewise, no "L" either. I'd love to back and blab about a reasonable alternative and indie.

    It must be "I" or else it won't work.

    Then what Dowd and Robinson do -- as well as Peduto, and others, is going to be a matter for further discussions.

  14. American wordliness should not be confussed with articulation.

    Luke wins becuase he does what others only talk of doing...

    ...of course he is 'Lucky Luke'.

    Which current Council Members voted him into position of Council President while O'Conner ruled as Mayor...

    ...thinking it was "all in favor"...

    ...any 'nay' votes cast?


  15. I 'll be short...

    Luke beat seasoned politicans to get where he is today.

    Luck had nothing to do with it.


  16. Luke beat seasoned politicians. No doubt. Luke is seasoned now too, to some degree.

    To beat Luke, one needs a big team. There must be a 'ganging up' behind one opponent.

    Knocking off any incumbent takes teamwork behind a challenger.

    The ganging up also means the status quo boosters need to be broken apart.

    Elections are won by addition. If Dok and/or Kevin are going to succeed, they've got to add to their base. And, they have to pull away others from Luke and into a camp of solidarity in opposition.

  17. Monk? How Luke landed in the Mayors office had everything to do with Luck and had nothing to do with ability. Timing, dissention on council between the power players had something to do with it,luck had something to do with it.

    He ran, in his first Mayoral election, still playing on the sympathies of carrying on the O'Connor agenda, which by the way, carried with it some huge business partnerships. The difference is that O'Connor had the experience, respect, and savvy to know how to handle that task. Luke does not have that. He is a puppet. In other words a figure head. He is being led by the nose, paid to the toes to be that, a chattering head.

    What I am thinking is that you are glad that there is finally talk of actually getting some repairs done to the City County Building :)

  18. It's a shame we don't have tickets.

  19. When is everyone going to quit saying it was all luck? What does he have to do?

  20. Act like an adult instead of a fan boy novelty show.

  21. What does that have to do about luck and winning elections?

  22. Matt - It has to do with everything.

    Did you run out of Coghill pictures to montage on your blog or something? Perhaps you could get some pictures of him on the toilet next? Run along now...

  23. It's easy to get elected when you're a cog in the Machine -- like you are, Hoagie. It's easy to get elected when you have a $1 million in campaign funds, thanks in large part to the visit by former President Clinton, a payback supporting Sen. Clinton for President, which was a real profile in courage for the Boy Mayor.

    It's difficult to demonstrate leadership without maturity and vision (unless, of course, you steal your ideas from brighter minds). But, hey, Luke will be re-elected -- he's part of the Machine.

  24. You idiots are just mad that Coghill & Ravenstahl are going to win.

  25. Coghill might have had a shot until Matt has make him look like a complete moron. Look what he did with the campaign signs. Everyone hates campaign signs, but they are a necessary evil for campaigns. What's a bright young slightly post pubescent child do? Put 300 in his front yard. Great idea. Even the paper make you all look like kooks.

    Good luck with that. Hey, who's the endorsed candidate again? lol!

  26. I live in District 4 and I can tell you that everyone is talking about that yard full of campaign signs.

    It's called free publicity. If Matt H had anything to do with that then he should be applauded. It got his candidate some front page exposure with a picture in the Tribune-Review. You can't even buy ad space there! How is that bad?

    I'm voting for Coghill.

  27. hey look! Coghill's mom knows how to use the internets!