Friday, March 23, 2007

Editorial: Where Do We Go Now?

What impact will Bill Peduto's withdrawal (pththb!) have on the blurghosphere at large?

No worries, mate.

If you keep score, well, I guess the burghosphere is oh-for-two. And it does ... pause for a for a day or two, when things don't go exactly as envisaged.

Call it "time to process."

The one descriptive term we keep hearing in spades is evolution. We are evolving quickly. We are evolving in an interesting fashion. Those are good things. They are courtesy, no doubt, of the special blessings of Pittsburgh. Optimism remains the order of the day.


Everything you read in the Comet post Capitulation 2007 is complete bunk.

We have come to some agreement that Bill Peduto (pththbt!) looked into the burghosphere (precocious east end knowledge worker that he is) and became aghast at what he saw.

He questioned his strategy, and perhaps his allies. He rebelled.

We have yet to see the new movie 300, but we have heard about it. We were doing that to Team Ravenstahl. Not just for being young, or even simple, but for outright sins, monstrous things, crimes of passion, crimes of violence, crimes of malice! Come on, now. What was anyone to make of this?

When Bill Peduto (pththb!) spoke of division, we feel he was speaking from the heart.

Cooling off. Yes. That would be nice.

"Give the kid a chance" has a lot of wisdom.

Or it's fantastic political kung-fu. Whatever.


Reentry into the general election as an independant candidate that is, pulling a Caliguiri, or perhaps a Lieberman was ruled "in" as a possibility, at least until it gets before a judge. A great big hat tip to Jon Delano for that.

So to Bill Peduto ... ahem.

If we may.

Don't worry about us bloggers, Bill Peduto! Don't sweat the small stuff! Don't sweat this nonsense! We're just bunch of crazy idiots! That's us, jerk-ass Homer!

Only please rest assured that everybody in the city -- and we really, truly mean everybody -- hopes you "pull a Caliguiri". Everybody.

Choice and debate are hard to come by, even in a democracy. You offered us that opportunity, Bill Peduto (pththb!), and then you snatched it back. We're pretty sure you robbed it from Michael Lamb to begin with.

So run.


To Luke Ravenstahl,

We have a great many "I Like Luke" stickers. We have them decorating our kitchen, our car, our computer.

We like Luke. We like Luke's people, from what we've seen.


The burghosphere will again break up and part ways, somewhat. The BURGH REPORT will likely tell us the score every day. The Admiral will be there to guide us in fey waters and through windy, windy winds. 2 Political Junkies will be blogging live from the Very Green Zone.

The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat will be all that, and so much more. Pittsblog will represent for the cupcakes. Matt H, for the O'Connors. Newbies will multiply. Smitty will tell ghost stories. PittGirl will keep us all freaking enthralled.

The Comet expects to stick around. We expect to return to a lot of historical preservation, a lot of race relations, a little macroeconomics and whatever.

We are entertained and bedazzled by this drama that is Pittsburgh, this city on the eternal, spectral brink. We have a very, very good feeling.


Good news today!

The Oak Hill Development has settled amicably, and to every one's apparent relief. (Rich Lord, P-G)

Some Port Authority transit cuts have been restored. (P-G by itself -- Grata must be on vacation.)


We hope to have some interviews up next week. Join us for the re-evolution, or whatever.

Look alive, Pittsburgh!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Capitulation 2007

1. The stated reason for Councilman Bill Peduto's early withdrawal from the race for mayor is complete bunk.

Conflict is the essence of democratic politics, and of social evolution. The petty scandals he bemoans all reflect issues of substance, and issues we plainly ought to be addressing. Rick Earle's indignation is righteous, not sensational. Bill Peduto is not such a pious neophyte that this can't be clear to him.

2. The theory of a tactical Bill Peduto withdrawal for the purposes of later reengaging as an Independant is complete bunk.

Peduto's ties with national Democratic movements run too deep, and he is too young to risk it all on such a maneuver. In addition, he must have anticipated the backlash of disillusionment as evidenced in the P-G editorial, not to mention the People's Republic and the Lesbian Correspondents. He knows that trust won't return easily.

3. The theory of a mere surrender to the inevitable is not likely.

Yes, Peduto had a short time to make up a lot of ground, and he had scarce campaign funds to make it happen. On any other day, surrender would have been a no-brainer.

But on the very day the entire media was suffering a mass hysterical negative reappraisal of Luke Ravenstahl? Like a few of them wouldn't have been suddenly inclined to feature long, favorable examinations of wonkish Peduto policy? If he had been intending surrender, certainly the Ravenstahl firestorm would have given him pause at least through Monday.

4. Bill Peduto might have withdrawn for reasons elsewhere ... elusive.

Maybe something arose with his family, or his personal life. Maybe he really does have a kind of depression or anxiety, that manifests itself in lackluster campaigning, so he's sparing himself further trauma. Maybe he's coming down with strep throat again.

Maybe someone made him an offer he couldn't refuse. The Comet is loathe to engage in such wild-eyed speculation -- but we're running out of bullet-points.

5. Bill Peduto might have gotten sick of this city and is preparing to seek other opportunities.

This is the last thing we can think of. His frustration seems real enough -- with the local Democratic committee, with the media, with the "machine." Maybe he sees an opportunity opening up in Congress, or in the state legislature. Maybe he's going to hook up with a presidential or senatorial candidate, and go back to behind-the-curtain politics.

6. We'll never know just what caused Bill Peduto to switch off the Rocky soundtrack, and break out the violins.

We'll never know how the Bob O'Connor administration would have turned out.

And we'll never know how a Bill Peduto administration might turn out. Ever.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Was It Something We Said?

We are listening to the raw footage of the press conference in which Councilman Bill Peduto is withdrawing from the May 15th Democratic primary election for mayor.

It is strange to hear the mainstream press today mourning his loss. It is strange this all happened today.

Listening to the rough cut, there are definitely some context clues which seem to indicate that a run as an Independent candidate in November is not at all out of the question.

Full analysis to come.

Non-Debate Scheduled

Today we stopped by to visit our dear grandma at the Forward Shady senior center in Squirrel Hill. So of course there was Luke Ravenstahl, fielding questions from an audience. It was part of a nationwide program today called Mayors on Wheels. You can not make this stuff up.

Q: What can we do to get the casino opened faster?

A: We'll be working closely with the Governor on things like that (paraphrasing heavily).

Q: Are we going to rename the Schenley Park golf course after Bob O'Connor?

A: We're talking that over with his family.

There was applause, and as we asked around, everyone was quite impressed with the Mayor's performance, though they miss Bob O'Connor and his frequent visits.

That's when somebody informed the Comet that Luke Ravenstahl will be returning to Forward Shady on April 30, together with Bill Peduto, for a debate.

Yet upon further clarification from manager Debbie Crisaflo, it turns out this will not be a debate. It will, however, be a meeting of two opposing candidates fielding questions from the audience.

The Comet was asked to stress that due to space restrictions, and to keep it from spiraling out of control and inconveniencing residents (including our grandma), the public at large can not be invited to attend. Only Forward Shady residents and their immediate family members can be accomodated. The Comet looks forward to the exclusive.

Since it was impressed upon us that this is not a debate, we suppose it is still correct to assert that the two candidates remain unable to schedule a debate.

The Media Has Some Questions

Trib columnist Eric Heyl:

Let's gently place the mayor's explanation in the pond of credibility and see if it floats.

(Split-second pause.)

Whoa, look how quickly that thing sank! Might take days of dragging the pond bottom before the recovery team locates it.

Trib editorial:

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has a problem -- obfuscation.

They also run an unflattering "PinLukeyo" cartoon by Randy Bish.

From the Trib story by Boren & Conti:

"I think probably he should have just stayed here and dealt with what he had to deal with here," said City Councilwoman Tonya Payne, who represents the Hill District.

"If he insists on following this pattern, I believe down the road he will have a credibility problem," said Jerry Shuster, a political communications professor at the University of Pittsburgh. "These things more reinforce the questions people have about his maturity."

"He's such a neophyte, it seems he doesn't realize that the truth will come out," (CMU professor) Strauss said. "He ought to be taken out to the woodshed by his political supporters and reminded he's a public official."

"Dave Lawrence would have never done that," said (Ravenstahl campaign contributor) Aiello, who owns Commonwealth Warehouse & Storage in Lawrenceville ...

From the P-G's Rich Lord:

... when someone offers the mayor tickets to a sporting event, he recalls the city's limits on such gratuities -- but does not keep a tally to ensure that he's complying with them. And in regards to the use of his image on city mailings and media during campaign season, he takes the view that if it's legal, it's OK.

"Here's a company that was recently seeking millions of dollars in benefits from taxpayers," said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause of Pennsylvania. "You don't want them treating public officials to travel or entertainment."

The mayor has taken a minimalist approach to reporting financial information required annually under the charter. Where the city's Disclosure of Interest form asks for "all your creditors and debts ... in excess of $1,000" he has consistently indicated "none." He and his wife, Erin, have an $87,000 mortgage and a $10,600 line of credit.

WPXI's Rick Earle, via the Busman:

Q-re: I don't care about where you go, but I'm more concerned about the fact that, with the Heinz Field incident, when we questioned you about that, you weren't truthful about that. You weren't truthful to Mr. Boren about your trip to New York. What about your integrity? What does this say about your integrity? What do you say to the people of Pittsburgh about your integrity in light of these two situations?

A: We can agree to disagree about our conversation, and myself and Mr. Boren can as well.

Q-re: That's twice, now.

A: I understand that you may feel that way. This is something that, when I'm asked a question, I've been honest with the media, from day one.

Q-re: You weren't honest with me...

A: I was honest with you...

Q-re: You weren't honest with Jeremy Boren.

A: I was honest with you: I told you I was never arrested at Heinz Field.

Q-re: Come on, you're splitting hairs.

A: That's fine. In your opinion, I'm splitting hairs.

The Comet:

What time do you have to arrive at an airport in New York, to have a reasonable expectation of purchasing a ticket, getting through security, boarding a plane, arriving in Pittsburgh, collecting your baggage, and driving downtown in time for an 8:30 AM conference?

Could this possibly have been his real intention on Wednesday morning, after retiring for the evening between 2:00 and 3:00 AM?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bill Peduto: Frustrated, Depressed

We were mulling over a post about how deathly quiet Team Peduto has been lately, when some news happened.

The Trib's Jeremy Boren (who it is safe to say is now out, proud and no worse for wear) revealed that Ravenstahl took a celebratory trip to New York with Penguins owner Ron Burkle. This caused him to miss several engagements in Pittsburgh, including a meeting with Hill District leaders. The mayor initially denied the trip, but now expresses regret for his handling of the media inquiries.

Which brings us to the loyal opposition.

When asked by KDKA's Fred Honsberger if either the trip or the lie indicates an integrity problem, Bill Peduto replied, "I'm not going to touch it." He said the whole story is "much ado about nothing in my campaign" and that "people have to come past these issues."

Maybe so, but will people get past these issues if he doesn't invite them through these issues?

Peduto readily admitted his frustration at how the media is succumbing to "Luke's PR machine," focusing on personality and style, rather than on issues of policy and finance. He complained that Ravenstahl is trying mimic his own policies, but no one notices and no one cares. He sounded resigned to finishing the race as a noble loser. He'd rather be right than Mayor.

Ravenstahl opted to celebrate the arena deal with billionaires, instead of discussing with community representatives how exactly that arena deal was going to work.

How hard can it be to use this to illustrate his opponent's top-down approach to community development?

Ravenstahl was less-than-totally-truthful in denying that trip to New York, and made the lawyerly excuse that at least he wasn't discussing Penguins business as asked. He was previously less-than-totally-truthful in denying the Heinz Field scuffle with police, and made the lawyerly excuse that at least he wasn't arrested as asked.

Would it be such a stretch to raise suspicions about his frankness and honesty when it comes to the city budget, or the feasibility of programs like the Pittsburgh Promise?

Bill Peduto's best weeks of the campaign were right after the revelations about the hancuffing at Heinz Field. He grew quieter in the weeks immediately preceeding the ACDC endorsement, and he totally fell off the radar in its wake.

We might conclude the media simply hasn't been covering him, but according to sources, Peduto is not exactly burning the midnight oil in terms of door knocking and O'Connor-style retail politics, either.

Somewhere in the city, Matt Preston must be either punching walls or popping Tums.

Bill Peduto must feel betrayed and disillusioned by his fellow Democratic Committee wonks. But if he fails to pull himself out of this funk, the race is going to slip away well before the debates -- which is exactly what Team Ravenstahl would prefer.

Instead of seething with frustration and disrespect for the local media -- and, by extension, local voters -- he should begin where they are now, and lead them by the hand. Which might mean his own hands will get dirty.

Return of the Mac

John McIntire will return to the radio on Monday April 2, according to his website.

His show will be broadcast on 93.7 FM "The Zone," formerly B94, from 1:00 to 4:00 on weekdays. He will be in direct competition with Fred Honsberger, not to mention Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Our concerns about McIntire's coulteresque effect on liberalism are well documented, but we are unreservedly enthusiastic that talk radio in Pittsburgh is about to get a sorely needed shot of diversity -- not to mention courage.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Breaking: Election Happening

David M. Brown of the Trib reports that two people are running in the May 15 primary election for mayor of Pittsburgh: young charmer Luke Ravenstahl, and seasoned reformer Bill Peduto.

"I believe [Ravenstahl] will put a little more life into the city," says Everett Mills, 80, of the North Side...

"I don't think [Ravenstahl] really has the experience. I just have more faith in Peduto," says David Welch, 52, of the North Side...

Pittsburghers differ as to who ought to be elected mayor; the outcome is uncertain.

"It's Ravenstahl's to lose," said Al Neri, editor of The Insider, a statewide political newsletter, and veteran observer of Pittsburgh politics.

Everybody knows this race is over already. But if we had a choice between the two, and we had to choose based on issues and ideas, how might we go about making up our minds?

Peduto, who has challenged Ravenstahl to a series of debates, said the incumbent is dragging his feet on accepting face-to-face appearances.

That's not so, the mayor said. Ravenstahl said his campaign manager is working out details for five televised debates.

"I want to talk about the issues," he said. "I would argue that I am the one talking about the issues. My opponent is the one that's trying to muddy the waters."

Acting Mayor Ravenstahl is four weeks overdue in accepting some debates, according to the countdown at the People's Republic. That's a month, if you work in payroll.

An outspoken financial watchdog during his five years on City Council, Peduto touts his early support for financial oversight from the state, while criticizing Ravenstahl for voting against that process when he was on council.

"I have experience and a proven record of leadership -- not following, not going along to get along and watching as my city crumbles," Peduto said.

Ravenstahl said he opposed state oversight "because I didn't feel the plan as it was presented --
and this can actually be proved today -- will do or would have done what it promised to do."

A fascinating difference of opinion. If only there were some experts on finance and municipal government in this part of the country, or maybe some journalists to seek them out, interview them, and report on their insights. But then the article might not come out balanced like a Swiss timepiece, and You-Know-Who would come huffing and puffing ...

Coming next month from the Trib's David M. Brown:

"I thought Luke clearly won that debate!" said Jebediah Northside, 98, of North Side.

"Council-master Peduto was the class of the act, no probalo!" said Senor Cardgage, 23, North Side.

"Ravenstahl proved he could continue speaking words, even after Peduto said some other stuff" says Al Neri of the Insider. "Clearly, the young man proved he's ready for the challenge of delivering an inaugural address."