In Jack Wagner, Challenged Nexus finds Willing Host

VIDEO by Kalea Hall with a piece at the P-G provide a good look at the Wagner for Mayor campaign effort — which, lest we forget, is to be understood as comprising an already and credibly UNITED FRONT:

The Firefighter’s union rep at the beginning of the big press conference listed Jack Wagner’s Purple Heart earned in the Vietnam War, and his successful elections to City Council, Council President, State Senator and Auditor General, and said, “This City needs that type of leadership.

“It is that type of leadership that will continue us on the road that we are, and our rightful place, as we continue as America’s most livable city.”

To hear it from them, things are very good indeed, and let’s go for more of the same. Not a surprise considering where they and the others (such as Ferlo) stood months ago:

“Tell us what [Ravenstahl]’s done wrong over the last six years in running this city?” [Firefighters rep Joe] King said. (Trib, Team Effort)

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has put himself behind us.

P-G, Michael Henninger

My real question, however, is why not Michael Lamb or Bill Peduto? If they are looking for a viable candidate and a likely partner, why not those two?

And does it have anything to do with the seething, defiant emotional passion, or the grim gravitas of that press conference?

These gentlemen don’t seem to be the type to be impressed by a long resume. And as canny officials representing ruthlessly for their memberships or constituencies, even a Purple Heart only gets you so far. The alternatives are all Democrats, they all kiss the ring of organized labor, do they not? So what is it about Jack Wagner that makes him so different from the other candidates?

Wagner took a few calls on PCNC’s NightTalk with Ellis Cannon last night, and I recorded the answers I think very fairly:

Jack’s failure to share any special wisdom on pensions is especially troubling, given his latest role in government and municipal pensions being the statewide tidal crisis on which Pittsburgh “hangs ten”.

Is Wagner not a details guy? Is he still playing catch-up on Pittsburgh issues? Does he not have a fundamental interest in urban policy? Or was it all just a bad egg salad sandwich? I don’t know what is going on.

But it makes one recall that also his recent answers on social issues questions were unfleshed-out and disappointing. In several ways already, this is seeming like a ginormous step backwards from Luke Ravenstahl.

So, no big surprise. The muckraking blogger does not favor the candidate which has been embraced by the City’s traditional sub rosa power structure of socially powerful city workers and economic development go-betweens. I don’t get the feeling Jack Wagner is a bad guy, in fact, by every account he seems to be a “great guy” (just like Nate Harper?) but so far he seems like a good-but-not-great, bad-but-not-awful career politician who wants a crowning swan song.

Good for him! But I feel that would not be an optimal move for Pittsburgh, on the brink of so much that might be positive or negative — especially with so many other qualified statespeople of political courage, experience and knowledge to choose from.

On working together, Wagner said:

“…and the people in government: just not the people that represent this building, but other levels of government. I believe that I bring that to this race, and hopefully to the future of our city. Our city needs that.”

I should like to hear more about that.

BONUSES: Apparently Bill Peduto is the Parking Reform Candidate. Once upon a year ago, parking was a big deal in city politics, and had something to do the pension problem. Also there is a short, sweet video of Rich Fitzgerald reintroducing Peduto to some southron city supporters. Michael Lamb is standing up for marriage equality with some organizations, but other than that he’s been low-key recently.

6 thoughts on “In Jack Wagner, Challenged Nexus finds Willing Host

  1. Anonymous

    Not sure where but I thought I read somewhere that Jack Wagner is willing to bargain with the FOP on the requirement to live in the City. IF THAT IS TRUE, then that is a huge reason for the FOP to endorse him . . . and the public needs to know that that is part of the big WHY they chose him over other viable candidates. And what's good for the FOP, could also be good for the Firefighters. Is that part of the deal, and if it isn't Wagner needs to say it – most Pittsburgh voters want their police and fire employees LIVING and working in the City of Pittsburgh.

  2. Anonymous

    Do only women look at this and say what is wrong with this picture? A dozen white guys . . . and what do we think a Wagner administration would look like? The Pittsburgh of 20 years ago . . . if you want to go back, Back Jack.

  3. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 6:31 – Thanks for the suggested answer to my central question, but I don't think it could stop at something like “the residency requirement”. Not only do I believe is Jack not the only candidate amenable on that issue, but we'd have to be talking about something that can be trusted years upon years. Is it efforts at transparency? Efforts at discipline? Efforts to redd-up the contracting on various items and services? These are my own personal suspicions, that somebody like Bill or Michael could catch a “moralistic” streak and break up old arrangements.

  4. Maria

    If Luke was the young, fresh face of the Old Boy Network, Jack is the not so young/fresh face of the Old Boy Network. A Wagner Administration would not only be more of the same top down structure, it would be an even more traditional, hidebound, dare I say Catholic dogma-following administration on social issues.

    Yeah, sounds exactly like what Pittsburgh needs in the 21st Century…

    Moreover, don't we want someone to run this city who actively lives and breathes urban issues?

    Might be nice!

  5. Anonymous

    Reliable sources state that if Jack gets to be Mayor, it will be status quo. It appears that Jack struck a deal with the current Mayor's staff and they will remain in their cushy position. On another, what is with Rich Fitzgerald in threatening people to vote for Peduto? Please leave it alone – you cannot always have things your way.


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