In Race for Pittsburgh Mayor, J-Wags’ pedestal still notable, embarrassing

Charlie Glickman

On Saturday, 52% of African-Americans convening in five neighborhoods voted to endorse State Rep. Jake Wheatley for Mayor of Pittsburgh.

A respectable 33% voted for City Councilman Bill Peduto.

Only 12% of black Pittsburghers endorsed former Harrisburg financial watchdog Jack Wagner — which ought to be disqualifying in a city Democratic primary.

Not to worry, however. The CEO’s of the Steelers and the Penguins are now endorsing Wagner. So we have a real clear “Man of the People” thing going on.

The 12% figure from over the weekend conjures Wagner’s last run for Pittsburgh mayor. In that contest, despite his alleged ability to forge great relationships and demonstrate awesome leadership, Wagner somehow got shellacked 72-28% in a two-man race. How could Pittsburghers have failed to notice Wagner’s relationships and leadership?

According to coverage, even back in 1993, Wagner failed to be seen as “the candidate for change”. He lost by greater than a 2-1 margin to an opponent “derided as a reformer without a power base,” whose lame proposals included spooling out a citywide riverfront trail system, upgrading City Hall technology, and partnering with universities to invest in environmental science and industry.

Jack Wagner today is emphasizing the feats of 45 years ago while eliding over whatever may be his “mission”. We are left to assume that mission is to ease the sting of a 44-point loss to Tom Murphy twenty years ago, when Pittsburghers knew him better.


Since then he rose to inhabit the important but inscrutable office of state Auditor General.  There are clear indications that comically antiquated and immobile technologies were left unmolested and unquestioned by Wagner, and probably contributed to inefficiencies and a backlog.

The Wagner team responded indignantly that his opponent is being petty and unfortunate — and, of course, the media more or less bought it without digging deeper.

After all, the Ravenstahl administration (now disgraced and on the lam) and its allies have been telling us Peduto is whiny and petty for years. We’re accustomed to hearing it. And I mean, just look at him. Peduto’s never worked in Harrisburg. Peduto’s never been to Vietnam. Peduto’s not supported by the entirety of the Ravenstahl administration. Peduto started standing up to them six years too early, and in this town being ahead of your time is no virtue.

Jack Wagner, meanwhile, operates on a totally different playing field. When the AG’s office technology and backlog issue broke, the chief political scribe in the newspaper of record took a break from transcribing a Wagner advertisement (usually, you have to pay to air those) to mention curtly and in the third person that Peduto “seized on” the revelation… but only as a way to go back quoting Wagner’s flack at 50-words strong, at the end of the article, explaining what a cad Peduto is for daring to mention his opponent’s record in office.

When Wagner first embarked on his mission, Pittsburgh had an easy time shunting him into the “discard” bin. After a long absence from City issues and an expensive political makeover, Wagner is attempting to campaign from a pedestal so high that Pittsburgh can’t even make out his features. With thirty days remaining until election day — and a stodgy media easily impressed by sonorously-intoned fluff and the support of a shamed regime — it falls to the rest of us to knock Wagner off his fabricated block.

The great news is, we are already mostly there. We hardly needed to write this post, but we didn’t want to seem derelict.

61 thoughts on “In Race for Pittsburgh Mayor, J-Wags’ pedestal still notable, embarrassing

  1. pghgraduate1

    Are you serious? If I read the article correctly, only 200 people voted. I would be shocked if those participants were a representative sample of likely black voters in Pittsburgh. Does the convention matter? Yes, I think it has the power impact the race. Does Wagner struggle with black voter? Perhaps, and your other points on Wagner may make him a poor candidate generally. But finishing 3rd in an opt-in straw poll is more a sign of organizing strength than voter preference, and the idea the such a finish should be “disqualifying” is absurd.

  2. Mysterious Greenfield Guy

    Yes, from his “vet” ad, “… to fulfill a mission in life that the people I served with never filled …” Sounds real nice, especially with those cellos droning away in the background, but what does it mean, and what does it have to do with being qualified to be mayor?

    By the way, J-Wag is good. I came up with Jack Quagmire.

  3. Anonymous

    No surprise, but Wagner had a weak showing again on Sunday the 14th Ward Dem. Club endorsement. For whatever reason, Peduto and Wheatley showed up early and spoke first, around 12:30, taking turns answering questions in a long Q&A session, but Wagner didn't come until very late and was the last speaker, finishing his remarks around 2:50, 10 minutes before voting closed.

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    Pghgraduate1 – I am serious. I am also speculating, but the 215 or so that showed up are probably the most politically active and informed, so they're likely a decent barometer of sentiment. I agree with you it says perhaps more about organizing strength, but these things are connected. You can't organize without an effective message.

  5. Anonymous

    Didn't Michelle Bachmann win the Iowa straw poll?

    If the 1993 results really matter, maybe Bill should ask Tom Murphy for his endorsement.

    How about Hans-Grecco walking away with the 14th Ward IDC endorsement?

  6. Anonymous

    7:52, oh 1993 doesn't matter but 1968 does? Social issues don't matter and shut your stupid faces about them, but we all need to hear about Jack's band of brothers every time he opens his mouth? Hypocrite.

    Oh and the Iowa straw poll happens 4-9 months before the primary, depending where you are. We have LESS THAN ONE.

  7. Anonymous

    bram You are so far out of whack. You think that the 215 are representative of a community that is at war with itself?
    I'm sure they were the same ole same ole , tom smith, mr. howze, some victim rights advocates, mr. Bpep Timmy Stevens, and a handful of non influential people who live in neighborhoods run by the children and the dope man. Yet you give these people all the credit in the world to churn out the vote for Jake and Billy. Here's what I know, they will vote for whatever man puts the most money into the hands of their ward chairmen, the machine.

    What I find the most disingenuous about your stats skills, is your inflating numbers knowingly to create a false impression . I don't know, is it dishonest, hmmm, maybe, but it certainly is a tactic out the manual of Barry the Prez. ” 90% of Americans supported the failed gun control legislation” sounds good to idiots or kool aid drinkers !

  8. Anonymous

    Re Rev Burgess' endorsement of Wagner: I'm guessing, but it seems pretty clear that 1. he doesn't like Peduto, and 2. he knows Wagner will win and wants to be on the winning team. I think it's just as simple as that.

  9. Anonymous

    Bram, this post of yours is a little ridiculous. There's every indication that Wagner leads Peduto by a wide margin in the black community. It's no secret that Peduto has had trouble for a long time in getting black support, a few recent politicians backing him notwithstanding. Wheatley staying in the race helps Peduto by splitting the black vote; everyone understands this. Is that Wheatley's game? Or is ot to eventually drop out and cut a deal with Wagner? This is what you should be asking Wheatley.

  10. flybylight

    Speaking as Chair of one of the endorsing organizations, I think we really should scrutinize who is endorsing whom.

    We should ask what it means when newly elected State Representatives endorse Bill Peduto – that he is the voice of the future? What does it mean when Mr. Peduto's campaign holds deep-rooted Pittsburghers who know how the City runs and eagerly support his candidacy?

    We should ask what it means when the current administration members support Jack Wagner – that he'll keep them working at their high-paid jobs? We should ask what it means when the unions with whom he'll have to negotiate contracts endorse him – that he'll give away the store?

    Why did Jack Wagner not show up at the Planned Parenthood Women's Forum? Why did he not respond to the Gertrude Stein Political Club's request for response to questionnaire? Why does he arrive late at progressive groups' functions?

    Possibly it is because at the Stonewall Democrats' event Mr. Wagner was nailed to the wall on his prior slams at female fire fighters, integration, women's rights, and gay rights. (See prior excellent Comet entry for links.)

    The one quote I remember well: How does he feel about a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion? He “believe[s] in adoption.”

    If we cannot get past annoying social issues of past generations, how can we move the city forward?

    In what world would we bypass a candidate who works with local universities developing apps for reporting City repair issues, who has spent years working with citizens in all neighborhoods developing a workable future, who has posted his policy papers online for years for us to read and discuss, who additionally took master's courses to bring himself up to date on the latest best practices, who knows where all the skeletons are buried in City government and has promised to clear them away and keep only what works, a bright person who can and does discuss City issues fluently and intelligently with his ears and eyes open, in what world would we bypass that candidate in favor of a candidate who has been living in Harrisburg for years?

    I really can't think of any other things to say besides “has been living in Harrisburg for years.” Oh, and of course we respect that he's a veteran. What did he do for Pittsburgh when he served at the state level? Why do we still have all these state-level issues if he was on the case as he says?

    The fear-mongering really troubles me. When I hear folks saying that they heard this or heard that scary thing and so of course they will vote for Jack Wagner because he's not scary, it troubles me. They have nothing positive to say about him, just that they heard they should support him to avoid fear.

    And then they add “he's going to win anyway.” Well, if we all vote for Bill Peduto, Jack Wagner will not win.

  11. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 10:00 – wrote, “There's every indication that Wagner leads Peduto by a wide margin in the black community.

    No there is not. There are, in fact, no indications of that.

  12. Helen Gerhardt

    @Anon 10:00

    Where did you find those indications? I'm working with other community organizers all over Pittsburgh and I'm not hearing anything of the kind, so please share your sources of information.

  13. Bram Reichbaum

    Let's not be coy Helen, they're making stuff up out of whole cloth and not bothering to hide it. The entire campaign is based on striving to convey inevitability, and relying on meekness and lack of information to turn that into a reality. Better to ask what anyone is supposed to vote for Wagner for. We sure as heck can't glean that from the campaign.

    Flybylight, did you tape the Stein forum? I can't for the life of me figure out why no reporter has jumped in Wagner's face to ask if he still “believes in adoption” in the case of rape or incest. Doesn't anyone on this town want to be famous, cause a stir?

  14. Anonymous

    Bram and Helen, I am the same Anonymous from 10AM. You can choose to believe what you want. I am not siding with any candidate in particular. But Peduto's difficulty in attracting significant black support is a well-known fact of long standing. The actual results of past elections involving Ravenstahl and/or O'Connor are proof of that. A lot can change. It could well change by election day, especially because Wagner is such a lackluster campaigner and is taking things for granted. But where's the evidence that it is changing for Peduto? And don't talk to me about what tiny “community organizations” say. Go find out what the internal polls of the campaigns are telling them. If they're doing it right, and doing breakouts by race, they know that this is true. Especially when you're talking about older people. You know: the people who vote in local elections. Peduto has a problem and you do not help your candidate by denying it.

  15. Anonymous

    Ed Gainey is supporting Peduto because Luke supported Preston with some $$$. Ed threw a hissy fit and embraced Luke's rival on council. Ed's commitment to Bill happened before the mayors race took shape.once committed Ed stayed reluctantly with Bill.There is no groundswell of support behind Ed's very personal decision.

  16. Bram Reichbaum

    Oh, an anonymous commenter is telling me about an internal polls. Now I'm straightened out.

    Anon 12:26, any white candidate who is not an incumbent is going to face challenges gaining black trust. Peduto as INDICATED by the convention results has made some headway, probably due to supporting community benefits agreements w developers in the past, his notions on expanding the Promise, etc. There are no similar data points or conceivable explanations for Wagner support, unless the African Americans here have become big fans of cops and CEO's. Hence, 12%. I wonder how he did among blacks in 93, if he only got 28% citywide…

    Anon 12:34 I suppose Ferlo, Lamb and Harris haven't made “very personal decisions,” but Gainey, Fontana, Dowd, Kraus and Rudiak are all grinding axes. Thank you for confirming to us that Jack's spin cycle to win over the black community is as panicked, desperate and convoluted as we assumed.

  17. Anonymous

    Bram my man, Ed's reaction was emotional. The others have made practical decisions based on years of experience.Fontana made a mistake as he will soon realize.Rudiak is Bill 's muse. Dowd, who cares. Bruce is Bruce .they've been buds since the get go

  18. MG Guy

    “Doesn't anyone on this town want to be famous, cause a stir?”

    Your talking about McNulty, Smydo, Potter, and to a lesser degree, a couple of Trib reporters.

    And the answer is, No. No one at those publications is willing to dig into any candidate, particularly Wagner, because they don't want to be accused of bias and/or screw up their access after the election. Sadly, there's no upside for a reporter doing any investigating and exposing during a campaign. The readers might benefit, of course, but not the reporter, editor or publication.

    After the election is another story of course, but that requires less (fewer?) balls.

  19. Anonymous

    Another interesting side issue is that Gilman (Peduto's aide) is campaigning as if he has been the office holder for at least the last two years. I paved your street and I fixed your sewer… I personally can't believe that Peduto is letting him do this. Gilman barely mentions Peduto in his stump speeches(if at all).

  20. Anonymous

    anon @ 45o
    ask Darlene Harris about Peduto's lack of a work ethic. she'll tell you he is absent lot . so yes I'm sure Gilman ordered the work!

  21. Anonymous

    anon @ 45o: Do you live in the east end? I can tell you both peduto and gilman work their **ses off. His record and actions demonstrate that this is BS.

  22. Maria Lupinacci

    It certainly must be axes to grind or a conspiracy why the more progressive pols are backing Peduto and the Lukey supporters are backing Wagner. Uh-huh. Yes. Definitely this.

  23. Bram Reichbaum

    Maria – That's just a coincidence, that all Luke's most ardent supporters and his administration are backing Wagner. There was no deal struck, do you understand me? THERE WAS NO DEAL!!!

  24. Anonymous

    Dan Gilman stays extremely busy working on constituent issues, and has done for years. Also – I fear too much is being made of this poll result with this post. Time will tell, I suppose.

  25. flybylight

    Bram, it was at the Stonewall Dems endorsement gathering that Jonathan Robison asked the question of several candidates, including Jack Wagner, concerning their opinion on a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion. And Jack Wagner's response was “I believe in adoption.” I do not know whether the Stonewall Dems recorded the event. And I do not remember whether I saw a reporter there, but Lauren Dailey of the City Paper may have been present.

    Darlene Harris saying that Bill Peduto is not physically in the office is an absurd piece of information. She feels that he is not working if he is not inside the office, but he is the most communicative councilperson there! The whole city knows where he is much of the time! Mrs. Harris does not tweet, she barely does Facebook. Her own actions are not impeccable, and she casts aspersions.

    (Okay, that last sentence may be considered somewhat myself casting aspersions. Yes, Mrs. Harris fires her hardworking staff at the drop of a hat after arguing with them for having her back, but I'm trying to be graceful about qualifying her statement.)

    Look, if someone is endorsing a candidate, it's important to consider who that person is, why s/he wants to endorse that candidate, and what the connection between them may be. One might simply ask, but if the answers are as foggy as they have been then we learn nothing.

    Which asphalt executives are endorsing which candidate? Which candidate is getting money from Lamar, the billboard company? Which candidate has ever hired a woman in a non-clerical position? Which candidate has a clear vision for the City as a whole?

    Meanwhile, I just heard Jack Wagner waste precious seconds of tv interview air time saying that he wants to be sure that we come to be able to pay our City taxes on line, since we already can file them on line, because that is important.

    Bill Peduto's platform goes so far beyond that, such a lower level of service improvement is a foregone conclusion.

  26. Anonymous

    Darlene Harris and Rev. Ricky have gained all of there power and perks when they threw in with Luke! It was a disgusting display but in the end it gave Darlene the presidents seat and Rev. Ricky the head of finance.
    Now, if Wagner can distance himself from that kind of pay for play let him indicate how he will lead with Council!
    Power will be served?

  27. Anonymous

    Wagner will win. Bram and the rest of the phony progressives will complaint, make excuses and fail to realize that most average people just aren't buying Bill's BS.

  28. Anonymous

    flybylight, I agree with your comments about Harris. I can't think of a single reason to place much value in her positions on this mayoral race. As for the comment about paying city taxes online – I disagree. What is currently passing for that, via Jordan Tax Services, is incredibly subpar. The only way that will be fixed is for a new mayor to do a long-overdue housecleaning of the Finance department. I can't think of a more pressing need where the CCB is concerned. I wouldn't be so quick to place Peduto's aspirations much higher, though. One of his policy notes has to do with making sure all city employees have email accounts – something that I'd confidently categorize as a “lower level of service improvement”, borrowing your term. Fixing the online tax offerings and improving city employee communication are both valid and important initiatives, but we all know that the voting public wants more paving, more policing, more snow removal, better answers to long-standing debt issues.

  29. Anonymous

    Speaking of Gilman… I find it almost hypocritical that Bill is trying to bequeath his council seat to his lackey. Isn't this the type of 'nepotism' that he rails against? And btw, taking care of constituent work is what Dan get's paid for and hardly constitutes an adequate reason for why he should be the elected voice of the 8th District.

    While I'll definitely be pulling the level for Bill, for council my vote will be reserved for somebody who, oh I dunno, can remember the 80's. Having Corey on council is bad enough.

  30. Bram Reichbaum

    It's not nepotism if you need to be elected to it. Gilman's been working his butt off for years in Peduto's official service. That doesn't entitle him to the seat, but it entitles him to Bill's support.

  31. flybylight

    To Anon at 1:10, having all city employees use email is a huge step because it will require clearing away the resistance from those in charge who feel it is not necessary, who feel that many employees don't even need computers. That issue is bigger than it seems on the surface.

    I did not mean to imply that Bill Peduto would not fix the payment of taxes. He has been scrutinizing every action of Jordan Tax for years. What I meant was that Jack Wagner devoting minutes of air interview time to paying our taxes on line cannot possibly compare favorably with the level of the bar Bill Peduto is setting for modernization. Of course Bill Peduto will upgrade our payment of not only taxes but also fees and permits and other things. But if tiny upgrades to computers were his major talking points, he would not have the kind of broad, wide, and diverse support shown on the portico of the City-County Building this afternoon.

    Note to Anon at 2:27, Dan Gilman is a great guy, a fine candidate. All three candidates are fine. (I do not personally know the fourth candidate, although I spoke with him on the phone briefly a month ago.) However, Jeanne Clark stands out. She stands out in her experience, in her broad relationships across the state and around the world. She stands out in her ability to bring people together, to find agreement and common ground. I would rather see Jeanne Clark win that election given this current Council and the level of negative politicking that must be dealt with.

    I live in O'Connor's district, and I do agree with what you say about his age, as I have come to believe that age can give one a political case-hardened mantel. Gilman may know everything about the district, but butting heads with Ricky Burgess and Darlene Harris? I'd rather see Jeanne Clark, who has the ability to round them all up and form a working body.

  32. Anonymous

    flyby lets her freak flag fly by throwing out her calling cards The Gertrude stein Group and Jon Robison. Clarke like Robison has been trolling the political landscape for years hoping to find a job. Known as a shrill mouthpiece for abortion rights Clarke is a leftist who alienates most around her. to state that she is a someone to pull disparate people together is nonsense .

  33. Anonymous

    Interesting that Billy has been using the Trib to go negative in the campaign and they (the Trib) just called him out on it with not one but two Lances.

    Shame on Bill for stooping to Carl Rove's level and kudos to the Trib for holding him and his campaign accountable.

    Bram, I hope that you don't try to defend the gutter attacks.

  34. Bram Reichbaum

    Negative in the Trib? It was Wagner who took to the Trib to indict Peduto as responsible for “the problems” like mayoral absenteeism and, uh, bickering.

    Jack and the Tribute seem to go way back, or at least to the Guv's race. I think they're afraid Peduto is too much of a mainstream liberal Democrat.

  35. flybylight

    Gladly flying my flag, since I proudly chair an organization to which those mentioned belong, I will assert firmly that I have worked with Jeanne Clark at the table and found her both steadfast and refreshing.

    Forging the City legislation in 2007 covering police and domestic violence (DV), we had everyone at the table who would come – everyone from national experts on police policy concerning DV to local police officials who feel they should be permitted to commit whatever they wish behind their closed doors. We had professionals who claim to cure persons of committing DV and we had more professionals who say one cannot be cured.

    The voices of reason were many, the voices of practicality were insistent. One individual who could always be counted upon to cut to the chase, state the obvious, and gather folks in to agreement was Jeanne Clark.

    You know what, I ought to cut to the chase, too. Whoever the Anonymous(es) might be who keep using derogatory and defamatory terms about women such as “hysteria” and “shrill” and “freak” and “rag” and “crazy” and whatever else should shut the hell up already.

    For hundreds of years women have endured this, and we are not taking it any more.

  36. Anonymous

    I haven't reached my decision on a vote between Wagner and Peduto. I'm still in information-gathering mode. I'm trying to remain deaf near shrill voices, while listening closely to explorations of policy, etc.

    I think Wagner has had some really valuable experiences – as City councilman, as state senator, and as State Auditor General. In my book, he has the state-wide stature that I'd like our Mayor to have. I regard many of the issues that we want to see movement on as having roots at the state and federal level, and I expect our Mayor to be active in those arenas. An administration designates city operations to a director and to department directors, and these people also need to be experienced and capable – but they need to allow the Mayor to push the City forward in areas that are not necessarily within city limits. The latter are things that really allow our city and region to grow – they are more important to this voter than paving and snow removal – in fact they have to potential to make change in those areas, and not vice-versa. Peduto's recent advocacy of Pittsburgh as a destination for LED manufacturers is also a big plus in my book. I do think next January, we'll definitely be heading in a good direction either way.

  37. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 10:51 – Welcome to the discussion. While varied experiences are valuable, I don't think there's overmuch in the record to show Wagner acted in key moments during those experiences in an excellent manner. Refusing to consolidate fire stations, in a shrinking city with huge pension problems, when the data and expertise available suggested it was okay. Same for wanting to hire 300 new officers when the financial realities leading to huge layoffs were just over the horizon. Auditor General is a cozy perch where tough decisions don't often have to get made. I actually admire the experience Peduto has given himself in City Hall, not just immersing himself in every development and transformational issue but also resisting pressure to cut legal and democratic corners, and to be a wise custodian of City resources (see the bottom of my recent Steelers post).

    I think the sun will rise, the rivers will glitter, and Pittsburghers will be industrious either way, but I feel we're facing a host of choices in which Pittsburgh can go on either to bonkers thrive or stumble pretty badly. I'm sold on Bill.

  38. BrianTH

    The point about interacting in positive ways with other levels of government is certainly a valid one. But I suspect Peduto would point to the endorsements he is getting from County and State officials as being relevant to that issue. Without trying to come to a final adjudication of the issue, I would underscore that I do think the City and County working as well as possible together is going to end up being very important when it comes to maximizing their leverage at the state and federal level

  39. flybylight

    Always eager to outline why I am supporting Bill Peduto for Mayor.

    Bill Peduto has been developing a working relationship among all sectors of the community over the past eight years (at least) to create a working outline of our City moving forward. Jack Wagner has not even been living in the City for most of that time, he has been in Harrisburg.

    If you read his website, you will find dozens of policies and initiatives that he has a good handle on implementing. Bill Peduto is and has been working with City personnel, something that Jack Wagner only distantly remembers (back in the days when he thought women were not equal fire fighters, when he argued against desegregation, etc.). He served as Finance Chair of Council – with the inside edge on the City’s finances and what the administration was doing with them, until the Council President slammed him with making him Chair of Personnel (so she could honor Mr. Burgess with Finance for making her President), and Peduto eagerly delved into Personnel and began improving that department’s prospects on day one.

    When asked a question at a candidates forum – any candidates forum – Bill Peduto gives a clear and detailed picture of what he intends to do. We hear none of that from Jack Wagner. In fact, he spends so much time trashing the Ravenstahl administration and saying what should be done in City government, that he does not have to tell what he would do – the time is up. And his implication that the current administration is failing because of Bill Peduto is so wrong-minded that it is almost laughable, except that folks are actually believing it.

    Having worked in Council during the days when a majority of it was trying to get the City to run right, I can say that the Administration has set its own course, and rarely if ever listened to reason from the Council hallway. Council would pass legislation, the Administration would ignore it. Council would create an initiative, and fund it, and the Administration would never implement it. Bill Peduto did not stop saying what should be done – in far more detail than Wagner is setting forth now. Peduto knows well what the City needs, and is prepared to implement it.

    The baloney about Wagner knowing how to be an executive – I don’t know where to start on that. It’s not like he ran a major corporation – he ran the Auditor General office. And the key to being a good executive is to hire people who know how to do their specific jobs better than you can, to work together as an organization (rather than the fighting fiefdoms we have now).

    The Mayor is the face to the world, the leader whom we follow. If there is a major flood or landslide in my neighborhood, do I want Bill Peduto there directing the matter, taking charge, with full knowledge and experience of what the issues are behind floods and landslides and how to deal with them, or do I want Jack Wagner and the current Mayor’s cronies coming out and paving it over with asphalt and putting up a big ugly billboard owned by his supporters?

    Bill Peduto listens – in fact, my young son became a fan around age 6, when Mr. Peduto stopped to discuss environmental concerns with him during a walk for sustainability. In fact, two years later, Bill Peduto remembered my son’s name and furthered the discussion. I have not seen Jack Wagner really listen, even to questions at public discussions among the candidates: he just seems eager to get in his campaign points about his own history.

    Yesterday’s collection on the City-County Building Portico of those who are endorsing Bill Peduto was quite illustrative, if not also impressive, even to this long-time supporter. As the crowd gathered – truly enough to be called a “crowd” – there were a thousand conversations being struck! The future of our region was represented on that portico.

    And I think the endorsements are relevant, because when we scrutinize who is working toward a positive future and who is working toward his/her own personal/political gain, even without discussing coalitions, Bill Peduto comes out ahead.

  40. flybylight

    Then, too, I am still bothered by the prior posting person, who spoke so objectionably about my flag.

    I fly the flag of freedom, the flag of equality! I fly the flag of respect for everyone, not just a few; for the right of each person to an opinion and the right of others to try civilly to change that opinion.

    I fly by light, not by darkness. I take umbrage, so to speak, against those who hide in the shadows, behind “Anonymous,” and cast aspersions.

    And I will still march for equal rights, freedom from discrimination, freedom from prejudice, and freedom for anyone from having idiotic things said about or to them.

    In fact, I challenge the keeper of this blog to so state – that biased words against women that are meant to demean should find no home here.

  41. Bram Reichbaum

    Flybylight aka Audrey G., I love how you're all over the place, how you take passionate umbrage, and how you dare to do it all out in the open. Reminds me of myself. Loved you at 12:02, thank you for coming around recently and elevating the discussion.

  42. Anonymous

    flybylight – I'm just another anonymous commentor – but I say ignore flies that buzz by through darkness. No need to address that which is clearly spurious. Don't let your energy be diverted from the good discussion you've otherwise engaged in here.

    Back to my point about Wagner's experience – I am convinced that Jack is at the end of his political career, and is taking a shot at a position that he would love to hold, not because he needs it or because he's stepping on stones towards something bigger. He's already done “bigger”. I'm not accusing Peduto of that, rather I am making a comment directly about Wagner.

    Jack's work as Auditor General wasn't a bunch of silly pencil-pushing. To take one example, the 2007 audit his office did of the Port Authority was excellent and very necessary. I think that at this juncture for Pittsburgh, we really do need an auditor-like approach. We need to closely examine what we have and step forward with the good parts of that, as well as to take new directions. I want the new mayor to take the time to fully examine our operations and see where they can be improved and added to. We need a leader of considerable stature, not one who has considerable stature in one section of Pittsburgh. Again, I haven't made my choice, but as I type I can sense I'm leaning in one direction.

    I don't understand criticizing Wagner for wanting to hire more police officers – really, under any circumstances, even the budget problems we faced in the early 2000s. This city needs more cops on the beat, and that has been the case for quite a while. I vehemently oppose the idea that Wagner is wrong to look for a new Chief in-house. There are very honorable and capable police leaders in-house that were no part of the silliness surrounding Harper.

  43. Helen Gerhardt


    If Bram censored such words, would we have the opportunity to see such a brave flyby flag unleashed in response?

    This is a conversation between Pittsburghers and terrible words, thoughts, feelings, bigotries will most surely fly between us, because we are all raised with various prejudices that will not be dispelled unless we come into real interaction with each other. Our divisions are very real.

    My firm belief, based on being partly raised in a racist, homophobic, sexist subculture of the South and having served in a highly racist, homophobic, sexist Army National Guard unit is that only open conversation can dispell such entrenched beliefs based on propaganda rather than direct personal knowledge and direct critical engagement. I have seen amazing turnarounds and consequent direct action to work for change from people I would have utterly dismissed as bigots if we had not spent real time talking about what we believed.

    I value and cheer your courage on, flybylight. I share your anger. I repudiate the prejudice which fueled it. I respect Bram's willingness to let the fight happen here on these threads, publicly, rather than fester and stew in the privacy of our skulls.

  44. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 12:29 Three hundred additional police officers? With all the pension and workman's comp obligations stretching out over years, and our pension and debt burden what it was at the time? And no source of funding but a hand wave about “efficiencies” like “joint purchasing”? Sorry, that kind of “ice cream cones all around” sensibility and irresponsibility is what even Luke Ravenstahl built his political brand upon criticizing, and for good reason.

    Thank you for informing me of the 2007 audit, I will try to track it down. Was it a fiscal audit or a performance audit? Because the incoming AG is already circling back around to launch an audit, that would be unusual to cover the exact same territory twice.

    Bill has never been shy about calling for investigations of all sorts, and demonstrating the need for them which is just as important. I wish the URA and PWSA had received as much attention as they demanded at certain times.

    Development, fiscal health and addressing poverty-stricken Pittsburgh's obstacles from opportunity are my three priorities: and they're all connected especially through “fiscal”. You've got to be disciplined to grow the pie long-term. You've got to be clear that you've respectfully stood up to certain union leaders at the negotiating table, and occasionally at the Council table.

  45. Anonymous

    One issue I'm hoping to get more clarity on – I am hoping that the next administration continues the challenge of UPMC's nonprofit status. I am anxious to hear more from each candidate on that issue. That alone may tip the scales for me.

  46. flybylight

    Thank you, my web friends. I'll overlook such slurs as usual, then, as my mom taught me to “consider the source.” We need a word for such slurs against women: “anti-woman” doesn't do it for me.

    The City is budgeted for, I believe, 914 police officers, and that much has been in the budget for years, thanks to Council. But the Mayor has not filled that quota since he's been in office, I believe. Bill Peduto yesterday reaffirmed that he agrees with Councilman Patrick Dowd, who, Peduto said, has done the greater amount of research, and feels that not only is the number of police officers up for question, but their distribution is more to the point, especially by rank. They feel we need to make sure to have those in charge always available to the officers in the field, not distributed thinly.

    Now, then. Truthfully, I don't say that Jack Wagner has not accomplished in his prior positions, especially as Auditor General.

    Do you think that is what we need in a mayor? I don't. We have a perfectly wonderful Controller in Michael Lamb, and I for one was sorely disappointed when he decided to back Wagner rather than Peduto, as Lamb and Peduto share a goodly base of progressive support.

    I've said it out loud (actually to Mr. Lamb, shamelessly, just after he announced his candidacy for Mayor) and I'll repeat it: with Peduto as Mayor and Lamb as Controller, we have a great chance to clean up the City business in short order.

    I see Mr. Wagner paying lip service to cleaning up the City, but then he refers only to the Police kerfluffle.

    Mr. Wagner has not been preparing to be Mayor for the past decade (as has Peduto), has not been educating himself at night for it (as has Peduto), and only has vague policies developed, as he wasn't intending to run for the office until Ravenstahl backed out.

    Probably you are right, Anon 12:29, that Mr. Wagner has already accomplished, and he is looking to dally as our Mayor. Greaaaat, as my son would say.

    Listen to the candidates, talk with the candidates. There are enough candidate forums coming, and WQED-TV's event of last night is, I believe, still posted on line.

    As to UPMC, that cat has left the bag – the suit has already been filed. The next Mayor inherits it. It, too, was mentioned last evening on WQED.

    One other thing re Bram's words at 12:46. If only Council had more input at the negotiating tables, but it's on the Mayor. This is why we need a Mayor with a clearly laid out vision and plan of action.

    Council's meetings are all posted on line in the Legislative Information Center. One can scrutinize the Council members to one's heart's content.

  47. Anonymous

    Published by Tim McNulty on Thursday, 21 February 2013 1:27 pm.

    Peduto said last week that Harper should have been put on leave until he is charged or cleared in the FBI probe.

    “Nate Harper served as more than a chief of police — he also served as a community leader,” Mr. Peduto said. “I can understand where there would be trepidation of jumping on board with the firing, but at the same time I would hope community leaders would let the process continue.”

    Bill P pimpimg Nate Harper to the AA community.

  48. Bram Reichbaum

    Um, no, that would have been the APPROPRIATE, PROFESSIONAL thing to do at the time Anon 5:02. Different from sticking your head in the sand as long as humanly possible, then scrambling to cover your rear.


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