Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday: Expectant City

Hopefully you've read three things already.

First, from the Post-Gazette's Tim McNulty:


Luke Ravenstahl/The Network -- Everybody knows by now how all the mayoral-supported challengers to Harris/Dowd/Bruce Kraus lost. And the money thrown at the challengers by the members of the Verbanac/Lieberman/Zappala "Network" went down the commode. Additionally, the council incumbent the mayor's team supported, Ricky Burgess, fell short of getting 50% yesterday (though against two challengers).

Second, from the Gost-Pazette's Nim McTulty:

Ravenstahl didn't lose Tuesday

Council races are not referenda on a mayor's performance, but rather about distinct issues and personalities. That's especially true in the district era (council members were elected at-large until the late 1980s) but it was true before then too. Take Pat McFalls.

Third, from the City Paper's Chris Potter

To borrow from Nietzsche, the danger of fighting a machine is that you become one. Do groups like SEIU back politicians who support their agenda, or do politicians back an agenda in order to garner the support of groups like SEIU? Is one man's "network" just another man's "coalition"?

That's a question on everyone's mind; an instant wedge issue.


Doug Shields is retiring as a Member of Council in 2012, so the on-record Harris majority will be down to four members -- hence receding to a plurality. In January, Corey O'Connor can try to play hardball and become Council President himself (my guess is he would succeed) or he could almost certainly get away with picking the president of his choosing, from any faction. His two most obvious choices would be Darlene Harris again ("Progressive") or Theresa Kail-Smith ("Mayoral"). Ricky Burgess is by no means out of the hunt. Patrick Dowd would make for an interesting statement. Bruce Kraus would be a crafty choice. To grant Natalia Rudiak the presidential nod in '12 might be seen as overly provocative; she faces what all will expect to be a heated reelection contest in the spring of '13. Bill Peduto still glows with radioactivity for some reason.


What then for Pittsburgh? The City, it does exist.

Expect the question of Council's power to get its allocations turned into expenditures -- for "pet projects" and otherwise -- to grow more defined.

Expect the State, in the fall, to accept the City's pledged future pension fund payments as sufficient to warrant not seizing control over City pensions management for being as irredeemably distressed as it is. Expect the operating budget to have to get chopped again and again. Expect money from the Parking Authority envisioned as part of the "Council-Controller" strategy not to come through. Expect another dramatic financial reckoning of some kind around year's end, this one being one step closer to rank impossibility than the last.

Expect the Lease issue to come back. Expect a different conversation.

Expect the shape of the Hill District, Uptown and Penguins-Manhattan to evolve as an issue, perhaps resulting in a flash point or two. Expect the "Allegheny Riverfront" and East Liberty development both to begin emerging in corresponding lights.

Don't expect widespread neighborhood crumbling to reverse itself.

Don't expect the city and region's impressive economic, employment and PR trends in relation to most of the rest of the United States to reverse, either.

Don't expect we won't hold it together.

Expect the City to secure access to a fresh revenue stream -- a commuter tax, a payroll tax and/or business privilege taxes. Don't expect any component of that to include ghastly overdue property reassessments at the County level. Expect a regime of fairer tax assessments to come later, eventually, statewide, really.

Expect some surprises. Expect no indictments. Expect the Steelers to remain dominant in the division. Expect the Pirates to flirt with .500 ball every now and again. Expect progress and forward motion. Expect to thrive. Expect the Comet to take the long view of history. Eschew the short game.


  1. "Ricky Burgess is by no means out of the hunt."

    Even his so-called allies can't stand him. I'd call this scenario pretty unlikely.

  2. Expect the State, in the fall, to accept the City's pledged future payments as sufficient...

    If it works for the city, I'm going to try it with the IRS.

  3. The Chelsa Wagner win was a win for the Ravenstahl's because it will put Luke's brother in a better position when they redistrict next year. They will most likely eliminate Chelsa's district now instead of putting two Dems against each other.

  4. Anon 10:09 - Hey, that's pretty neat. I suppose Ravenstahl's district as well as the others surrounding what is now Wagner's will grow as a result.

  5. You think Corey would win Council Pres??? You are nuts.

  6. Here's how I'd do it:

    STEP 1: Go to Mayor, say, "Either your supporters vote with me or I'll vote for whomever the 'Progressives' choose; if they're squabbling amongst themselves I'll recommend Peduto."

    STEP 2: Go to Peduto, say, "Your faction votes for me, or I'll vote for the one my constituents are so fond of, from the Rachel Maddow program."

    STEP 3: Drink mojitos, get a tan, brush up on Roberts rules of order, and wait until somebody stuffs a gavel in your hand. Bonus points if both factions both throw support to you simultaneously, and neither is seen to have been determinative. Triple-bonus points for revealing Dowd as Finance Chair during the speech, leaving everybody guessing.

    That is if Corey actually wants it -- which I am picking up a vague general sense, based on very little, he may not at this time.

    How about all this Lamb / Wagner talk?

  7. Drink mojitos, get a tan, brush up on Roberts rules of order, and wait until somebody stuffs a gavel in your hand.

    There's a bar for every crowd these days.