When I was a little kid I'd go to baseball games and the hawkers would be selling scorecards and I always thought those pieces of cardboard probably held valuable information, that for the giving of a dime you might become well-informed and knowledgeable and later as I grew up (to some degree) I have so many times wondered, where is that guy selling the scorecards now?
There are no scorecards, of course, and if you find yourself wishing for one it tells you more about your own situation than the game; you're a non-player, an observer. But if I may, some observations from way up high in the cheap seats.
Pattern Recognition and the ACE: Some functions of local government are organized into Authorities and governed by Boards. You might ask, Why is that? Sometimes it's when several counties want to cede a portion of their sovereignty to a new regional entity - for instance, the Port Authority of NY/NJ. Sometimes it's because the function involves planning, budgets, timeframes and decisions that need to be insulated from the four-year election cycle - for example, public transit or the airports.
In the last fortnight this pattern is discernable: the Allegheny County Executive (ACE) moves somebody into a position with the Authority's domain to accomplish his goals; they don't have any subject-matter-expertise, but they have the message. Might be somebody with turnpike experience, might be somebody with sales experience, but they're drinking the right flavor KoolAid. Shortly after that, the CEO is moved by the Board.
So I would think, if you're an Authority CEO and a new guy shows up, doesn't know the business but seems tight with the Executive, it's time to make three envelopes.
Last Man Standing, aka the Dog Not Barking: There are three people who seem to want to be the Mayor of Pittsburgh.
Within the last week, Team Peduto filed legal papers that could ruin the financial structure of Mr. Lamb's campaign, and what with him being a finance guy and all that would be pretty significant. The thorough preparation of the filing and their submission right after the offense was irrevocable suggests that somebody saw Team-Lamb failing to understand the complex new law and waited for them to put the noose around their own neck. By the way, who wrote that new law? Ah yes, the third Wannabe.
That complex new law may not be enforceable, what with shifting a City conflict to County courts; questions of jurisdiction n'at might preclude the timely response ostensibly sought. There is a clear change in the framework, and that might be sufficient.
Also within the last week, a steady series of discoveries about the Pittsburgh Police. At first it seemed like a story about the Chief, then it disclosed a grand jury conspiracy investigation, then it grew into other issues, and just now it's about no-show jobs. The person in charge of the Police, Mr. Ravenstahl, initially made bold statements of support and is now backing off; unsure of what to do and hoping to buy time he has called for outside counsel to consider the issue of outside employment.
The Hail-Mary-outside-counsel move was good short-term, and a minefield long-term; it takes time to form a panel, and an investigation into police outside employment evades the inquiry into the better question - was this person ever at work? How many no-shows are there? What's going on? The timing of these revelations seems terrible for the Incumbent and serendipitious for a Reformist Challenger.
The long-term minefield for Hizzoner and the FOP is the question of the police working lucrative mercenary assignments for bars and businesses, a corrupt arrangement in which taverns buy their own police, bars enforce commercial policy with the full force of criminal law, the bouncer becomes a policeman with arrest powers and Tasers whenever he wants to and gets to write the official report, and the city's insurance covers lawsuits and injuries. It's the third rail of Mayoral-FOP-governance politics.
Is it possible that this uncovering of long-standing, festering corruption is more about Luke's administration and re-election than the Police? Is there a electoral dimension leveraging a racial constituency against the FOP block?
And so, in this week of genteel boardroom, press conference, and court room throat-cutting - in other words, politics - who is quiet, subdued, and serene in the abattoir? Who profits?
At least, that's the question that comes to an uninformed observer, who doesn't have a scorecard.