Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday: the Dynamics That Are at Play

Over the weekend we thought, "Come Monday we will just go ahead and blog about the War of Five Mayors."

Cue real life and real challenges hitting everybody in the face.

An accurately headlined Post-Gazette story on the Jordan Miles situation is DOUBLE-PLUS MUST-READ. A couple of dry excerpts:

About 11 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010, [officers] were acting on a tip of drug dealing near a church on Tioga Street. According to Agent Bush's account, Officer Saldutte saw someone near 7940 Tioga and said, "Let's check that guy out. Let's see what he's doing."

The officers said they drove near Mr. Miles and ordered him to take his hands out of his pockets, which he did. They asked him whether he lived at 7940 Tioga, and he said no. They asked him why he was there, but he walked away, then ran, they said, and Officer Saldutte saw a bulge in his jacket.

The officers told Agent Bush that they yelled, "Pittsburgh police, stop!" Officer Saldutte said he jumped out of the car and gave chase, as Mr. Miles fell on the ice, hitting his face on the sidewalk. (P-G, Rich Lord)

It was thereafter, it is said, things got messy.


Monica Wooding, who lived at 7940 Tioga, then came out and told the officers that she did not know Mr. Miles, they told Agent Bush. At a later preliminary hearing, though, Ms. Wooding told the judge that she knew Mr. Miles well, contradicting the police account of her statements at the scene. Charges against Mr. Miles of aggravated assault, loitering, resisting arrest and escape were dismissed. (ibid)

FBI Agent Sonia Bush was / is the lead investigator in this case from Indiana County, and was involved in this case involving a parole officer in North Huntington.

Not to be made irrelevant, the Tribune-Review runs material which perhaps better emphasizes the extent of the polarization and seething frustration enveloping this trial.

If the Comet had to guess what this civil trial is going to mean in the long view of history, its guess would be, "not much". Local civil authorities are certainly swiveling their heads in some correct directions, and the black communities as always find copious ways to admit of shared responsibility for the overall picture.

But the long march of history is punctuated by incidents of this seemingly intractable conflict -- crashing and wearing on us like the tides. It would be nice for something somewhere to give -- to be able to envision sustainable beneficial adjustments coming down the pike. For all sides to grimace, lock eyes, hail Zoltan and forge something that will outlast us and surprise others. The Comet however does not yet see evidence of the requisite dispassion and empathy in the requisite quarters to seriously consider that as a likelihood.

"Learning" is like good looks, or making money. You either use it or you lose it.


In any event, back to lighter fare.

This is obviously what's happening in the mayor's race:

The above particular numbers should be taken with pinches of salt, and they are six months old besides. But somewhere in the ether there are numbers -- and if we could see them, they'd certainly look something vaguely like that.

Also reported as part of the "fun exercise in speculative politics" at that time:

Fistfuls of salt.

But let's say you're buying it.

There would be two (2) and exactly two (2) rational courses of action for the candidates representing the "75%ers" -- that is, as if all three of them: the Auditor General, the Member of Council and the Controller; were not already brain-addled by that potent cocktail of narcissism and magical thinking which calls itself, "This is my time."

Strategy 1: The three challengers campaign actively and openly if a bit obliquely against each other through Thanksgiving. Through Christmas if they must. Then they spend the holidays and the first smidgen of January 2013 looking over some new independent, credible numbers or other data set -- and whomever happens to be in 2nd place by that time, the field amiably coalesces behind that candidate.

Odds of Seeing Strategy 1: Unlikely.

Strategy 2: One of those three candidates unilaterally drops out of the contest, and spiritedly endorses one of the two remaining challengers. Pending a brief public conversation which lasts perhaps only through Groundhog Day, a coalescing will develop around that endorsed candidate regardless.

Odds of Seeing Strategy 2: Significantly more likely. Because as we just stated -- at that juncture, the coalescing will happen regardless. The odd man out in that situation would certainly have to look to his sins.

For the night is dark, and full of terrors.

Fallback Position for the 75%ers in the event of Critical Rationality Failure among All Seasoned Challengers: "Option E". Second fallback: Option G, aka "The Full-On Circus".

Odds of Rationality Failure: Always reasonably high.


  1. These words among others appear on an Alliance for Police Accountability page today --

    "~Mayor Luke Ravenstahl initially stated that something appears to have went wrong.

    ~The three officers were not issued a write up, unpaid suspension, or any reprimand for their actions.

    ~D.A. Zappala REFUSED to prosecute the officers based on the fact the FBI did not, which is not legally a valid reason for the state (our local D.A.), not to file charges.

    ~The three officers have a history of committing these acts in the community and lying."

    So I guess it is this alleged history that we're going to be hearing a great deal about in open court. Whoa.

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  3. Guess I'm missing something. You said War of "Five" Mayors, but I only see four names.

    Anyway, I think a bunch of the wards in the city should get together and do a straw poll among their committee members of non-Luke candidates and declare that they will support whoever wins. Maybe that would help to shake things out.

  4. Anon 4:03 - I suppose that could work; though perhaps only/especially if that combined tally then controls enough committee votes to throw the actual endorsement into question. At the same time, it begs the question a little bit as to "whose/which" Pittsburgh it is. I can see an argument being made that this method would undercut one of the candidates natural strengths.

    But again, its a method, and the infrastructure for it is there. I had daydreamed that the candidates could send "delegates" to a straw "reform convention" - whomever feels strongly enough to show up, baby - and nobody gets to leave until somebody tallies 50% of the space's vote.

  5. Okay, I want to hear it from you: why "mealy-mouthed?" What could you have said that would have been more courageous? You threw down the gauntlet for me to at least try for what you say is needed, although you stated the challenge to us all as a sidewise abstraction, spurred me to be a little bit braver than I'd planned to be.

    Your turn. Use it or lose it.

  6. Helen you ask - "What could you have said...?"

    I could have written, "City and police union officials have not been making it sound like they are uncomfortable with how city neighborhoods are policed. And when they do make it sound like that, they are quick to walk it back. Collecting and removing guns and other contraband is still job one, job two and job three put together. That's where the incentives lie. Yet authorities do wish fewer Pittsburghers would flee police or be otherwise uncooperative during this dangerous process of shaking down young black Pittsburghers for guns, drugs and information."

  7. what makes anyone think Councilman Cappy's who has either been on council or worked for a council person for almost 20 years can accomplish anything! When it was time to show some guts he refused to run. he spent the last mayoral cycle on the sidelines making joke and finishing his degree . Oh sure he's charming on Walnut St and he attends all the right events, but have you ever been to Cappy's at closing time?

  8. Anon 1:42 - Do we really want to open a discussion about who is more charming at closing time?

    There's always a learning curve with the chief executive's job, but Peduto seems as prepared as anybody typically is. Maybe not as prepared as Jack but that's cuz he's got what, 20 yrs or so on him?

  9. hmm but that was always a dig thrown at the current mayor

  10. The controller seems to be stepping up the rhetoric. This fall could be ugly and entertaining.

  11. How did I miss this?

    ""Your hesitance to pursue any recovery on behalf of the [PWSA] rate-payers you represent is disturbing to say the least," Mr. Lamb said."

  12. Lamb won't be running. He is too smart. Peduto will run and get crushed. Anon was correct earlier. It is much easier to run the City from a bar stool on Walnut than actually in the trenches. Peduto has no chance out there. The more people in the North, South and black community meet him the more they don't like him. Seriously, what has he ever done for anyone but himself? His entering the race will be more about Peduto and less about Pittsburgh and the populace knows it full well.

  13. "and the populace knows it full well."

    You really had me going there for a while.

    Peduto will struggle finding purchase in the north -- the real North -- but in a 2-way race he'd do fine amongst southroners and he'd definitely have his surrogates and "enemy-of-my-enemy" allies in the African-American community. If that vote splits 50-50, it could be shattering for Ravenstahl. Of course, for all this he would have to run the kind of race he says he couldn't bear running in 2007. I still hear people saying they're mad at him for not running in 07, which is an appraisal that cuts both ways. After all, why are they still mad?

    More to the point, Anon 6:40, you didn't mention Jack?

  14. Jack won't run and if he does he has no chance. When is this town going to vote for an old has been again? Ain't happening. Luke is strongest in the African American community and bill is weakest there. Luke will take 80% of the AA vote. As for Southroners (I like your term) that is where Luke has had his strongest numbers in the past. Remember what Lamb said, there is no such thing as coattails in City politics. He is correct. Just because Mulchany beat a washed up criminal doesn't mean Bill can beat Luke in the South. Trust me, all those cops in the South know that if Bill was Mayor there would cops strung up from poles in the town square on a daily basis.

  15. Doesn't Jack currently hold state-level elective office?