Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Had Happened Was...

Alright, I guess I owe you one of these:

1. Natalia Rudiak jumps into the beneficent, hyperactive and enigmatic position that Ricky Burgess occupied originally two years ago.

2. Ricky Burgess's shift is made overt into Jim Motzik's position as the occasional Hammer of the Administration.

3. Sala Udin takes over for Tonya Payne, which is really the big news of the night. Only this time Udin will be younger, a different person, and eager to demonstrate his independence and individualism.

4. Patrick Dowd will take over for Bill Peduto, in at least a couple of respects. Man, have you ever seen a victor coldly ask a loser to apologize after an election? I mean, in America? You might remember that in March of 2008, Patrick Dowd referred to Pat Ford on at least one occasion as "unethical" -- and then Ford complained publicly and famously that it is difficult working productively with a City Council that uses words like "illegal" and "unethical". So this is all sounding very familiar.

5. Bill Peduto will take over for Doug Shields. Doug Shields will take over for Bruce Kraus. Bruce Kraus will ... um, he'd have to take over for Patrick Dowd. Right. *-CORRECTION: No, Doug Shields becomes the Patrick Dowd of two years ago in that circumstance, and Bruce Kraus remains Bruce Kraus. This business is all a net plus to boot, so long as the Dowd of today takes whatever true, measured lessons Dowd should take from Doesn'tplaywellwithothersI'minthemiddlegate to heart. But this is all very advanced math that is not yet interesting.

So you can call it a 3-6 Council, to the extent that that is useful. Everything as always will be driven by its particulars.

6. Luke Ravenstahl will remain Mayor.

Being Mayor is still extremely important, obviously. A mayor is charged with and fully empowered to run the government. Almost everything regarding the day-to-day, month-to-month practice of running the government is always held so far away from any Council it is a little troublesome in my opinion, but that's our Home Rule Charter. On top of that, there is nothing to indicate that certain things won't be kept even more extra far-away from the new Council than usual. Yes there is state oversight, but oversight doesn't oversee operations.

On top of all that, let's face it: a mayor can do a lot of things for a given council district and its residents and stakeholders. Without Motznik and Payne to kick around for very much longer, it will probably become a fun sport among Council's new majority to defect to "the mayor's side" on occasion just to get things done. Hopefully they will all select their opportunities cannily.

However -- a six vote majority is materially different than a five vote majority. A six vote majority can override a veto. A six vote majority can sit and write legislation with the expectation of being able to override its eventual veto. A six vote majority can initiate actions from among its own slender portfolio of extralegislative powers more easily than can a five vote majority.

The City's Number Two official was right: it's going to be interesting.

And now, once again, the blog changes a little...

PS - Four more years of Fetterman! Good stuff! Something tells me this will be covered by the Economist.


  1. This new comment policy is weak.

  2. For those of us who lived out of town during most of Sala Udin's time on Council, and those who are otherwise excused from knowing what you're talking about --

    Can you give the one-paragraph summary of who you think Udin was on Council? Seeing as you think Lavelle will be the same, I'd like to know what you're expecting.

  3. Jerry --

    Hahaha, no. No, you misunderstand. All I meant was, incumbent councilwoman hammered away somewhat at a theme of A vote for Danny is a vote for Sala: LINK. A little inside joke.

    But for the record -- and not knowing too terribly much in detail -- I think of Udin as a council member who was basically alright, who worked with an unpopular mayor, who lost touch a bit with his constituents and who got beat by someone who knew all his ins and outs, and who could carry a message in her own right.

  4. Sala was a big time booster to Tom Murphy. Sala stepped in to try to give Pittsburgh a downtown cinema chain and Nordstrom Dept. Store -- with huge city money subsidies. That's corporate welfare.

    Sala told Tonya Payne that he needed to stay in as city council member because it would take any new council member a lot of time to just find the bathroom.

    Sala = arrogant. He got too big for his britches, sometime in his youth.

    Sala is running a nonprofit do-good professional internship do-hickey, Coro, now, perhaps into the ground. They've gone underground it seems to me. That's a match made in heaven, IMNSHO.

    But, I don't buy into the conventional wisdom that Dan L is equal to Sala Udin. That thinking and bigotry is worse than Sala's worse traits.

  5. council will be council. how it behaves depends upon how well or how badly it is treated by Ravenstahl. To date, the Council has been treated rather shabbily by Luke and his thugs.

  6. With the way this council is shaping up, it's interesting that Luke is comfortable repeatedly attacking Dowd in the aftermath of the election, unless his hope is to ostracize Dowd to the point that the other councilpeople abandon and isolate Dowd in the interest of getting things done.

    Personally, I'd like to see this whole thing turn into even more anti-Mayor sentiment on council, but I'm not sure if that will happen.

  7. Um... slightly off topic... but Rudiak is a product of Coro... I would hardly call her and her victory and her impact an "underground" "nonprofit do-good professional internship do-hickey."

    The organization is 70 years old - Diane Feinstien is an alum - and in only 10 years in the 'Burgh they have a seat on City Council not to mention significant positions around the region.

    Sala does not = Coro.

  8. "...unless his (Luke's) hope is to ostracize Dowd to the point that the other councilpeople abandon and isolate Dowd in the interest of getting things done."

    I think Dowd is doing a good job of this himself, Luke doesn't need to work too hard to enhance the effort.

  9. CORO did get a bit of a dis by me in the post above. Sorry. By all means, I meant to say that the org has gone more below the radar this past year(s) than it had been in the past. There were times when I'd see CORO Fellows everywhere in the city. Perhaps I'm not getting out much any longer. But, I've not seen but a couple in the past two years.

    The legacy of CORO is strong. Past. The recent work is perhaps lurking.