Category Archives: Mayoral Race

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 kungfu. 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!

The Emporer Is Not Exactly Wearing a Tuxedo

Upon our first reading, Sunday’s offering by the P-G’s Rich Lord stopped us cold in our tracks. A second and third reading yielded nothing remarkable. So we read it a fourth and fifth time, trying to recapture our Beginner’s Mind.

The article focused on the Mayor’s penchant for featuring himself on billboards, city mailings, and the city website. Old news on the ‘sphere, of course.

Jerry Shuster, Pitt professor, framed the analysis thusly:

He’s in a very unique position … He does have all of the perks of an incumbent, and runs like one. The only deficiency here is, by the time the election comes, he probably will not have had time to satisfy some of his critics with regard to his ability to make hard decisions.

Over the Mayor’s objections, Lord insists that his prominence on the website is unusual when compared to other cities. He allows City Democratic Committee Chair Barbara Ernsberger to posit that the race to win the endorsement is going to be a close one. And he selects this decidedly uneven quote from Ravenstahl to wrap a bow on his piece:

Certainly, somebody as young and fresh as I am, I think has an opportunity to show [leadership] and be a leader … I believe I’m a good mayor, and the more chances and the longer tenure I have to show that, the more successful I’m going to be.

In summary, the Luke Ravenstahl of the blurghosphere — unsteady, vapid, and and a little egocentric — actually made an appearance in the mainstream media — in the very central stream, in fact. It was a jarring realization.

The Comet is reminded of a late January interview with KDKA’s Jon Delano, in which the mayor is asked the perfunctory softball, “Why Luke Ravenstahl? What do you want voters to think about the Ravenstahl administration when they go to the polls?” Ravenstahl responded thusly

Luke Ravenstahl, in my opinion, is a man who is working for the people, who has come into this situation listening to the people, and doing the people’s work. That’s the kind of person I’ve always been. That’s why I got involved in public service — following in the footsteps of my father, and my grandfather — is to simply help people. Nothing satisfies me more than helping people. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes along with it that doesn’t involve that, but that’s at the root of me. That’s the root of why I like to do what I do — and interacting with people on a daily basis is really the most exciting thing for me. And I think people in Pittsburgh can relate to me; they understand me. I’m genuine, I’m honest, I’m upfront, and I’m optimistic about our future.

We are not saying this particular Rich Lord piece in Sunday’s P-G is the turning point in the election. We are saying that with 85 days left until the primary election, the above just ain’t gonna cut it anymore.

Tax Abatement Tango

“He has no plan,” Councilman Peduto said Tuesday after Mayor Ravenstahl announced a property tax abatement plan remarkably similar to the one Mr. Peduto was poised to offer council. “He had a sound bite and a press release. Luke has finally decided to embrace my ideas for a new Pittsburgh and a progressive agenda. The next obvious step is to support me for mayor.”

Much of the blurghosphere would cheer this analysis by P-G columnist Brian O’Neill.

As long as challenger Bill Peduto keeps offering ideas, and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl keeps stealing them, this city has a chance to make a nice run. “Stealing” is ordinarily a pejorative, but not in politics. It is a poor politician who attacks a good idea from a rival. A smart politician seizes the idea, tweaks it and claims it for his own.

And the cheering subsides — this is the dominant theme of O’Neil’s piece. Ravenstahl is cast as smart, nimble, and quick to counter his opponent.

Acknowledging his predicament, Peduto weakly notes “It continues a pattern on initiatives that we have undertaken” in yesterday’s Trib piece.

Is there enough daylight between the two proposals to make for an enlightening debate? Ravenstahl would argue that his arrangement rightfully extends to many more neighborhoods than simply downtown. Peduto could counter by paraphrasing military strategist Sun Tzu: to encourage everything is to encourage nothing.

On the Ravenstahl idea, the prez of the Allegheny Institute on Public Policy says “I think the abatement program may be worth trying, but I would stop short when it comes to providing second mortgages.” No comment on what she thought of Peduto’s frills, including additional tax incentives for public art.

This continues a mild trend of the A.I. in favor of Peduto — typically considered the more progressive candidate. Perhaps the Institute’s feeling is, so long as Act 47 limits all the nasty Democrats’ ability to raise taxes, it should fall behind the candidate who takes a generally harder-line, tougher-love view of city finances.

Councilman Doug Shields tried — and we would argue, failed — to sound equally impressed with both proposals in Rich Lord’s P-G piece. “I’m very encouraged by it,” he said of the Peduto plan, and, “”The mayor is going to have to present the detail of his proposal, much the same as this working group presented theirs,” and finally, “”It would be wise for the mayor to look closely at this proposal.”

We take this to mean that Peduto did more impressive homework — but back to O’Neil’s point, so what? If Ravenstahl wins, we still have our wonky Councilman. But if Peduto wins, we lose our unicorn.

The only encouragement the Comet offers our blurghosphere comrades is that both Rich Lord and Jeremy Boren have been turning in more brief and thin work than usual. Perhaps they have a full plate.


Bill Peduto, when asked by KDKA’s Marty Griffin whether he can take on the firefighter’s union and still become mayor:

“If you don’t take on the contract, and win the race, what the hell did you win?”

We’re awful late to this game, so we’ll kick you right over to the Burgh Report to play catch up. But there’s a lotta, lotta, lotta ballgame left on this front.

Union president Joe King was able to respond that they can’t reduce overtime because firefighting staff is limited under Act 47, thank you very much Councilman Peduto. But it sounds like the councilman wants to negotiate the new contract from scratch. Although he insists pensions are off the table, he’s definitely talking minimum staffing requirements, if not pay scales. Of course, King countered with the safety card.

Peduto is banking on resentment from Tom Murphy’s late-in-the-race concessions to the firefighter’s union, and the resulting financial hardship. He describes “a city that can’t afford to pay its bills.”

When Peduto describes himself as “being responsible rather than critical,” we are reminded of Mayor Ravenstahl’s frequent insistence that he “believes in Pittsburgh’s future.”

The Ravenstahl camp has been the one touting present and planned development, so we are left to infer economic growth will take care of any lingering financial woes.

The Grand Analogy just keeps broadening in scope.

Politics Ain’t Beanbag

Okay. Let’s put aside the Comet’s pretentious idealism for a moment.

Anyone who thinks Councilman Jim Motznik’s foray into the blurghosphere was tactically senseless, stupid or ill-advised, must have spent the summer of 2004 living on Mars. In a cave. With their eyes shut, and their fingers held tightly in their ears.

Put another way: If Rich and Jeremy find themselves maneuvered into the Magazine section, and all the wannabe Riches and Jeremies follow suit, would that be helpful to a challenger? Or an incumbent?

Put a third way: karma’s a bitch, ain’t it, Johnny?

The educated and interested listeners of WDUQ were just told by their Mayor that we should all worry less about pie-fights in the blogosphere, and more about public safety. Oh and by the way, you’ll have your new arena by Friday.

Say whatever you want about either one of these candidates. Neither one of them is hurting when it comes to the strategery department. Especially one of them.

Look alive, Pittsburgh.

Boren to be Wild

With fifteen (15) distinct weeks remaining before the election, The Tribune-Review’s Jeremy Boren starts our week off right with a cup of hot oatmeal and an in-depth look at the differences between our mayoral candidates.

After an enlightening-to-no-one lead graph on age, experience, and marital status (being married doesn’t count with voters until you have children how much would that kick ass as an April surprise?), Boren cites four votes as especially illustrative:

1) Act 47 state oversight. Ravenstahl, AGAINST. Peduto, FOR.

There is broad agreement that Act 47 has been beneficial, so the Mayor will have to explain this vote, and possibly admit an evolution in thinking.

2) A buffer zone for protests around abortion clinics. Ravenstahl, AGAINST. Peduto, FOR.

Will this issue gain traction? Will Peduto try? Can the Mayor make it a 1st Amendment issue, or does it contribute toward his “Bush Factor”?

3) Dealing with Twanda Carlisle’s spending fiasco. Ravenstahl PASSED limits on discretionary spending, Peduto FAILED TO PASS an outright ban on walking-around-money.

This places Peduto even more fixedly as the reform candidate; but people like money, and like when it walks around some.

4) Tax Increment Financing for PNC office tower. Ravenstahl FOR. Peduto AGAINST.

Oddly, this would seem to align Peduto with the Trib editorial board (think, “Mr. Rohr, give back the public money”), which in turn would align Ravenstahl with the Heinz Endowments.

Finally, Dick Skrinjar chimes in with this one:

5) Ravenstahl for Council President. Ravenstahl FOR. Peduto FOR.

Just like Ravenstahl has some explaining to do on vote #1, Peduto at some point must forthrightly explain this, whether or not it’s a Skrinjar trap.

Interesting: Much of the analysis in Boren’s piece came from the Allegheny Institute — a local conservative think-tank — and it was mostly in Peduto’s favor. If Bill Peduto can swing being the candidate of experience, and the candidate of reform, and the candidate of conservatives — that is something.

BTW, the Allegheny Institute has a blog, which accepts comments, and is totally worth following.

Peduto Getting Younger by the Minute

Do you get spam from the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters? So do we. Here’s an item that grabbed our attention:

Three (3) members of its Executive Committee are stepping down to work on the Peduto campaign. (Press release) That’s 20%.

We are already familiar with campaign manager Matt Merriman-Preston, of Chelsea Wagner renown.

He is joined by Lindsay Patross, co-founder of IHeartPgh, finance director for Georgia Berner for Congress, and one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s reigning “40 Under 40.”

The third is Dan Lavelle, veteran of Councilman Sala Udin’s office, which is all we could find on a quick Google search.

Their committee resignations are temporary. The release states, “While Matt, Lindsay and Dan remain committed to the work of the League of Young Voters, we all agree that it would be a conflict of interest to simultaneously serve on the Executive Committee while working as a paid staffer for a political campaign.”

We have long puzzled over neautrality issues in regards to the Pgh League of Young Voters. During the mid-term elections, they seemed quite “in the tank” against Republicans. Comet readers are by now familiar with our national politics. Yet we thought an organization in their position wouldn’t want to so brazenly alienate young conservatives.

Everybody Loves Michael

Deep, deep, deep within the Rich Lord P-G article on the nomination of Fire Chief Michael Huss as public safety director, we learn this:

“Even Mr. Ravenstahl’s mayoral rival, Councilman William Peduto, has previously suggested that Mr. Huss should get the job.”

The blurgosphere would have us believe this is the understatement of the century. You know where to look. The Comet reserves judgement.

In this case, we feel an enterprising traditional-media reporter might make some great hay — substantive hay — evaluating this notion. Just make certain you have the towing capacity.

Los Bloggos Officiale!!!

Everybody go check out our own Wired, Progressive, Peoples Candidate’s Campaign Blog!

Oh wait … you can’t. You’re not invited.

Guess we have to go sit at the reject table with Napoleon, Pedro, and that girl with the topknot.

(h/t Rauterkus: the candidate who never minds if you visit his blog)

We plebes are welcome to visit, which at the moment only provides contact info. And a logo that looks like something Burton Morris might have designed, after he accidentally ran over his own puppy.

Or you can check out, which does not offer contact info, but sure as spit wants to know yours! And graphics … GRAPHICS … well … you guessed it …

(h/t The suddenly indispensable Bob Mayo)

Strong Medicine

Deep within the extended John Delano interview (here and here), candidate Bill Peduto reveals that The Number One Problem facing our city is UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY.

The Councilman is definitely aware of the challenge he would face getting this across. He is most likely aware of the pitfalls when, and if, voters actually do understand just what he’s saying.

Now consider his claim that My own city council district (Shadyside, Sq. Hill North, Point Breeze, Bloomfield, Friendship, S’Liberty, N & W Oakland) is the hub of the new economy of Western Pennsylvania.”

What does this mean? Matt H had a point when he said Bill Peduto is Pittsburgh’s answer to Al Gore.

To a certain extent. Unlike the Last Next President of the United States, getting Bill Peduto to forthrightly criticize his opponent is a bit like hauling a Buick out of a tar pit. But at length, Peduto confessed to three instances in which Mr. Luke Ravenstahl seems to have deeply frustrated and upset him:

1. Peduto voted YES on Act 47 Financial Recovery. Ravenstahl voted NO.

2. Peduto has been pushing city-county consolidation. Ravenstahl has been slower, or more cautious, at the very least.

3. Peduto backed Isle of Capri through the bitter end. Ravenstahl jumped ship prematurely, at least in Peduto’s description.

The Comet senses that there may be a Unified Field Theory of a difference these indicate in terms of a contrast in governing philosphies, but this will take time.