Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jack Wagner: Pittsburgh's social conservative candidate for Mayor


Don't act surprised, you knew this was coming.

To some voters in municipal elections, "social issues" are an irrelevancy and a cynical distraction. But to many others, these issues rise to the level of trust and character issues, as well as an indication of a candidate's ability to grasp how enhancing diversity and vigorously opposing societal privilege benefits cities and organizations.

A cursory Google search turned up interesting factoids from Wagner's past on Pittsburgh City Council and in the State Senate, back when he had to make important decisions:


In 1990, Wagner refused to pander to gay rights activists in that he voted against adding "sexual orientation" to the City's anti-discrimination law in the Human Relations Act.

Wagner was a prime sponsor of a Pittsburgh City Council resolution declaring it "Respect Life Week". Too long ago? In 2000, the pro-life senator co-signed a letter urging the state House to adopt an amendment penalizing women's health centers for mentioning abortion or where to get them.

And he opposed the City Personnel Director's and Mayor Richard Caliguiri 's initiative to diversify the Fire Bureau by easing one of the physical standards on tests for new city Firefighters recruits, out of concern about being unfair to male applicants and ruining the force. At the time, the Fire Dept. had one female in its employ.

In the mid-90's, Wagner opposed efforts to integrate city schools, through either busing or redistricting, opting instead to protect "neighborhood schools".

But for all that, this may be my personal favorite:

Mayor Tom Murphy and several Wagners were arguing during and after a mayoral debate -- Murphy had countered some of Wagner's character and ethics accusations by raising questions about Pete and Rob Wagner's dealings with the City, and what if anything Jack ever did about it -- so an angry Jack Wagner leveled the accusation, "Tom Murphy is a flower child of the '60s!"

Politicians and people can change, or at least change their official positions. Some change slowly, whereas some actually don't need to -- they've been ahead of the curve. However, taken all together, the above material indicates to this voter that it will always be more of an uphill battle for women, minorities, civil rights activists and socially liberal voters to motivate Jack Wagner to "get" their concerns and "act" accordingly. After all, Jack Wagner does not pander.


  1. Social issues should be cocktail party conversation not political policy. As much as we hear about violations of personal privacy, the politics of sexuality insists on putting Sexual conduct or preferences front and center. Quite honestly, most of us don't give a hoot how you pleasure yourself or your partner .There is a certain insecurity in the individual who needs to tout their sexuality as their calling card. Whether its the flaming gay guy or the over the top brutish dyke in her bibs and flannel. Why the insistence on exhibitionism and if that's the case certainly there is some pathology that has gone undetected. For the most part, we all go through our day passing people on the streets unaware of their preferences until we pass a membr of one of these diversity groups who needs to wear their sexual preference badge loud and clear. Ok so Jacks a prude on sexual matters and isn't a big fan of flushing unborn infants down the drain. What's the problem just because he doesn't embrace the sexual mores of a small but virulently loud percentage of the population doesn't put him at odds with the rest of us or the 31 states that voted no to gay marriage!

  2. Excellent, informative stuff!

  3. Wagner has my vote!

    Your story has convinced me that he, at least, has some core values regardless of political correctness or expediency.

    Rather have a person of principal over a person who constantly holds his/her finger in the air to figure out which way the wind is blowing.

  4. You always know which way the wind is blowing when it's your own flatulence.

  5. I disagree with Wagner but he is where he is on issues. I get a sense from Peduto that, if he didn't represent such a liberal district, he would be way more conservative. That's what concerns me about him. He tells you what you want to hear.

  6. Add this information to Jake Wheatley's history of domestic violence (, and it seems that Peduto is the obvious choice for voters concerned about social issues and character.

  7. Drug, gun arrests found in some Pennsylvania lawmakers' pasts
    Published: Sunday, November 14, 2010, 3:08 PM
    By The Associated Press

    “Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr., D-Allegheny, pleaded guilty in 1992 to felony larceny and misdemeanor assault charges related to a fight in the parking lot of a Pontiac, Mich., shopping mall when he was 20 years old. He served two years of probation, and two newspapers reported in early 2003 he had the charges expunged shortly before he was sworn in.

    He told the New Pittsburgh Courier in 2002 that he threw two punches and took someone's coat, calling it a heated argument that turned into a brawl.

    Wheatley, now 38, also was charged with assault on a female in Guilford County, N.C., in 1995, but that charge was dismissed, according to the district attorney's office. A 1996 misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge in Guilford County had been "dismissed with leave" in 1998 after Wheatley did not appear in court, said Joe Davis with the Guilford County District Attorney's Office in a recent interview. But on Oct. 27, after the AP raised questions about the case, the charge was fully dismissed, Davis said. Wheatley did not respond to several messages seeking comment.”

  8. Going back to these older articles has created a new demand for decoder rings.

    Tom Murphy was such a jerk, policies included.

    Any foe of Murphy gets props in my book.

    But then again, Wagner hated the under river tunnel to the North Side but wanted a bridge to the South Side into the Wabash Tunnel. Boondoggle parades.

  9. Is a Darlene Harris endorsement actually a positive in any conceivable scenario?

  10. of course she is. she's still council prez and a Peduto ally

  11. Although the first comment makes me sick to my stomach, they are right to the extent that we need to talk about the real issues! But I haven't heard jack from Jack about any substantial policy analysis. I mean come on, Just look at their websites, there's no comparison.

  12. @ Annie
    Get over it

  13. I'm certainly one of those exhibitionists when it comes to my sexuality. For example, I am constantly talking about my wife and kids. I've even been known to hug and kiss them in public. Must be some pathology.

  14. You are doing excellent work Comet Boy.

  15. If you want a candidate with "core values", then AJ Richardson is the obvious choice. The dude committed to face tattoos! If that doesn't scream "core values" and convictions, then nothing does. Jack only gets my vote if he scrawls a big backwards "B" on his cheek for Brookline.

  16. Mr. Wagner has been posturing himself - or he's being postured - as a progressive. This blog post refutes that, quite nicely - thank you for it. And there is far more than just this.

    It is obvious that Jack Wagner is the New Luke Ravenstahl - political machine man, support of Police and Fire Fighters Unions (where else can a working union voice support for the new CEO who will negotiate their contracts?), and now support of Darlene Harris.

    Did we really like Luke that much? Wagner's posture has been "let's fix the schools," but what really can (or will) a Mayor do to accomplish that? It's almost completely outside his purview.

    Has Mr. Wagner ever hired a woman, a non-white person, a gay person? To what position? Would he be committed to diversifying the police force, or would it be Luke business as usual?

    Would he enforce the safe area around family planning clinics, or would he be like Ravenstahl (or worse), who said he doesn't "believe in birth control either"?

    Social issues do play a role. A broad mind plays a large role, especially in leading a city into the 21st century a decade and a half too late.

    We really cannot settle for a party old guy letting the ship veer the way the tides flow. We need someone with a new tack, open ideas, and an open mind. We are reinventing ourselves... why would we want an old conservative steering our ship?

  17. I just can't believe it's been suggested to me that protecting Pittsburghers from housing discrimination and segregated schools aren't "office issues".

    And it's getting harder not to agree with flybylight - we're six weeks away from an important election Wagner has been plotting for over a year, and "I will use my leadership!" is not saying anything at all. Sometimes it is important to report on the lack of things, too.

  18. As urban city after city go down the sewer, as one green energy scam after another suck money out of the taxpayers,
    As the federal govt continues to fail at everything it touches, we still hear the choruses of, we need more progressives or liberals or leftists in office. While a complicit national media pushes the leftist Democrat agenda, the rest of us look for stability .

  19. Wagner won't get into a discussion of ideas and substance with Peduto because he's not likely to win, so he's avoiding that discussion.

    As your Murphy anecdote shows, Wagner's empty-suit rhetoric is based on "I went to VietNam". I admire that and I respect it, but it has limits; if you haven't done anything significant since 1965, it's a dis-qualification.

    Wagner's "know-nothing" appeal to stability is an appeal to people who like UsedToBe. If you want money-machine politics he's the guy.

    This says nothing about Peduto, but I'm pretty sure of what Wagner is.

    Thematically, Peduto vs Wagner is Progressive/Reformer vs Retro/Quo/Traditionalist. NTTAWWT

  20. "Progressive" means we progress - we set goals, we head toward them.

    If we are seeking stability, it should not be stabilizing the horrible place we are right now.

    If we are looking for "liberals," that is another story. What the original post mentions - nondiscrimination, fair hiring practices, etc. - should fall under the category of "good for us all," not "liberal."

    What I am saying in the post above is that we need a progressive tenor to our city. We need a vision of the future and a clear path leading there that we agree we want to take. We need a leader to make that happen. There is no possible way that Jack Wagner could ever be that leader. He is not progressive.

  21. Fly ---

    Perhaps the City should hire you to help meet diversity goals or are you like Tim S who likes to stand on the sidelines and complain but NEVER do anything to encourage minorities to seek City employment in any capacity.

    It is easy to point fingers quite another thing to lift a helping hand.

  22. @ANON 8:39pm (who use the cover of Non-ymity to throw slurry)

    I first met "Fly" when she was doing her best to assist a man weighed down by one of our most vilified, caricatured stereotypes. A highly educated Muslim immigrant and medical resident, he'd been on the receiving end of both way-over-the-line police insults and blatant job discrimination at a UPMC hospital. "Fly" showed due diligence, kindness, and professionalism as she lent her helping hand.

    So, you might as well your aim your NEVER elsewhere - in this case the slur just doesn't stick in the face of the facts.

  23. Helen,

    The Fly comment stands. Not a slur, simply saying her obvious talents of bringing minorities into the workforce should be used to its full potential.

    We could all benefit from the experience and expertise. Action is much better than words.

  24. Anon 839 a special,shout out if your Tim S is Tim Stevens of B-pep. 40 years of BS same old neighborhood

  25. "where else can a working union voice support for the new CEO who will negotiate their contracts?"

    I would imagine any unions connected to government can do this, including the Paramedics, who backed Peduto.

  26. Thank you, Helen.

    Anonymous 9:41 may be correct - I never feel I can do enough. In the past I have hired all across the board in terms of diversity, and will continue to push in that direction. As I am eking out a living as a Consultant now, I don't have much of an opportunity in that direction.

    Over the years I have seen Tim Stevens make a difference, saying exactly the right words to bring people together, being in exactly the right place to effect change. I have a great deal of respect for Tim, and admire his skills.

    Right now, I am privileged to serve as the Chair of the Gertrude Stein Political Club, and an officer in VoteAllegheny, and on boards and working in organizations, all of which offer opportunity to lead change, and to make a difference.

    So I promise to continue actively working toward social justice on all fronts. I hope Anonymous is working with us.

  27. Peduto v. O'Connor, redux.

    Since voter participation in mayoral primaries is laughably small, the "machine" generally wins, because those people vote. This seems to be playing out just like most people though it would a few months back, with Wagner tapping in for Ravenstahl.

    Not that they haven't been trying, but "progressive" operatives must work even harder, in future, to activate a non-traditional base that just hasn't been significant on the city-wide level, really ever.

  28. The person earlier who stated that Harris is an ally of Peduto is incorrect.

  29. That assertion of incorrectness is correct.