KA: Who are John Verbanac and Ed Grattan, and what role do they play in your administration?
LR: John Verbanac and Ed Grattan are friends of mine, and they play no formal role in my administration.
As we now know for a fact, the frank answer would have been, "They are advisers," or "Two of my closest advisers on politics and strategy," or "People who I call on to do things like negotiate my position with the State Legislature," or "People who run my high-level strategy meetings."
Answering on television, before the people of Pittsburgh, that two persons as crucial to his government as this are "friends" was disgustingly coy.
It proved beyond a doubt that he didn't want to be open and honest about them. If the relationship were as innocuous as today we are being led to believe, he would have told us who they are and the fine work they do for Pittsburgh.
A week later Acklin stated during another debate that he had obtained:
KA: ...very specific documents and e-mails that prove that Mr. Verbanac has had a very intimate relationship with your administration He's written your speeches, he literally puts words into your mouth. He's called the shots on who you hire and fire. He advises you on city policies and developments, including developing your strategic plan. He advised you on the firing of BBI (Bureau of Building Inspection) Director Ron Graziano and also called for the purging of your staff.
All of which, you should note, was true. 100% true. Later:
KA: What business interests does John Verbanac have before your city administration or with any of these authorities?
LR: First of all, he has none, I answered the question last week that he is a friend of mine, your accusations are wrong...
First of all, Vebanac has some business interests before the City. Period. Whether they have been advantaged by the Mayor or not is still an open question, but it's inarguable that Verbanac has had and will continue to have interests before the City and its authorities (particularly, maybe, the Parking Authority soon). So that was not "wrong".
Second of all, everything Acklin said in the televised debate up to that point about Verbanac's role, duties and strategic advice given to the Mayor was CORRECT. Every word of it. So neither was that "wrong".
Luke is lying, and everyone is giving him a pass because they'd rather see him prosecuted than bother calling him a liar again. For goodness sakes, people, he said he wasn't Mayor when the casino license was awarded! He was up to his nostrils in kaka!
Ravenstahl later repeated again that Verbanac is only a "private citizen" (that wasn't the question) and that Acklin's accusations are "false". It was not until the end of the following day and concern about Verbanac's possibly inappropriate role had continued to build that the Mayor would even approach truthfulness.
He confirmed that the former political consultant advises him on campaign matters, and probably has some role in fundraising.
"He has been consulted there and talked to there and advised me there, just as he has on other issues," the mayor said. "He's never written me a check. Has he raised money? Yeah, I would assume that he's asked folks to contribute." (P-G, Rich Lord)
Der, gosh, I uh pfffft whooo weeeee yeah maybe, I dunno.
Isn't this still insufferably coy? Do you know if he raises money for you or not?
There is another issue I'll be touching on later today: that the press is grading inappropriateness on a curve. Don't you know this is how politics works, boys, when it comes to people like Verbanac. Welcome to the world! If Acklin can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that actual laws were broken like some kind of prosecutor, then these cozy exchanges of influence by titanic private investors is just how it works and it'll never change. It doesn't impact Pittsburgh in ways that Pittsburghers will ever notice or care about. Have a cigar already.
But the issue of this post is simple:
Ravenstahl has been lying and dissembling through his teeth. Again. And somehow, we're grading that on a curve!