Comet endorses Bill Peduto again, hopes for the best!

Bill Peduto is actually a pretty good mayor, as mayors go. If you don’t believe what I have to say below, google it, or google the things I’m writing about. Because I’m not providing links. Either you’ll know it already, or you’ll find out.


Even though B-Piddy’s first term as mayor of Pittsburgh was awful hit-or-miss and herky-jerky (and he might be losing his majority on City Council) he is still worth going out and voting for today because he applies himself diligently to statecraft, is open to reason, has a lot of compassionate instincts, a lot of experience, plenty of know-how, is generally accessible, and has kept his administration free from any rank incompetence or sordid scandal, though not mistake and error.

That profile alone is a lot better than the Universe often likes to serve up, in terms of major executive officers.

Usually at this point, somebody objects: “What a low bar you’ve set, for our public officials!”

But is it really? Let us take a moment. No, really. Think about it.


Is Peduto a neoliberal? Well, he is being dragged in that direction. There is this thing called capitalism, which is presently in command of the means of production.

Some people ask me, “Bram, are you a Democratic Socialist?” I like to tell them, “Yeah, I’m a democratic socialist, but I’m a democratic socialist who gets things done.”

If I don’t vote for Bill Peduto today, that means I’m either voting for John Welch or I’m staying home. And if too many of people do either of those things (in this very sleepy municipal primary) then we wind up with Mayor Darlene Harris.

Now, Mayor Darlene Harris would be an interesting ride. There are fewer flies on her than many seem to realize. But her entire platform and constituency consist in hostile, specious reaction to progressive reform:  from campaign finance, to affordable housing, to reproductive freedom and many vendettas in between. I say “specious” because if she’s not any longer complaining about the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections, then she was probably crying “wolf” the whole time. So now when she says we need a “federal investigation” of the Water Authority, we can see another reckless overreach. What’s been going on over at PWSA over the last 3 1/2 years hasn’t been criminal, it’s just uncivil and unfortunate.

Rev. Welch is calling for a State of Emergency. Now that’s interesting.

Before we drown in our water woes, it’s time to acknowledge John Welch, who hammered away on matters of real urgency: our drinking water, livability for the poor, and corporate accountability. That urgency was as informed as it was disciplined and dignified.

Yet Welch seemed to have a such small campaign operation, for a big city like this. He was no doubt hampered by his inexperience as a political candidate, not to mention the incumbency advantage, and a field split unfavorably against him. If John Welch makes a mark on this election, it will likely be as a spoiler.

And I don’t want things spoiled. There’s a reason Peduto drew only small opposition over what not long ago was a highly sought-after office. Peduto appears politically and competently in charge; many people feel like they can work constructively with him, and it not end in embarrassment or outrage. That’s not always on the menu.

The Pittsburgh Comet endorses a second term for Bill Peduto. Go vote for it. Better that way, than backwards and uncertain. Let’s count our blessings.


And yet…

Though Mayor Peduto has retained the public’s confidence, and some still cherish high hopes, he has frittered away a lot of the enthusiasm that leads to real political capital, the kind you can exert while governing. The Water Authority after all is only just now entering the “task force” phase. Note also how the Land Bank and affordable housing are taking conspicuously forever, and wonder what that means for PWSA. Nor does any “deal with the nonprofits” show any real signs of being around the corner. Meanwhile, if you’re on the supply side of things, you’re probably noting that progress in the Lower Hill and at the Produce Terminal seems very, very, very tentative at best. Add to this stew how the tenants at Penn Plaza were chased out yet the Whole Foods fell through, and you can see how nobody’s really thrilled. Maybe Nova Place is catching fire, but it sounds quiet. Even Almono is at a snail’s pace; the Oakland Transit Connector sure as heck didn’t happen; if anything that whole Smart Cities Challenge diversion generated more dissonance with Uber than anything. If he spent half as much time in the Run pitching the OTC as he did at the conferences with “innovators,” there would actually be those podraces in Schenley Park. It’s getting a little trite to ask, but is Peduto fundamentally a good “negotiator?” Let’s say the jury is out. He doesn’t always have great negotiating instincts. There had to have been a better way to engage the School Board in their superintendent search, than find himself so thoroughly alienated. He ought to realize that leadership in regards to our water infrastructure is going on MSNBC and talking about how bad these 5,000 cities have it, not going on the City Channel or Twitter to downplay it so defensively. There was no reason to put Chief McLay in such an uncomfortable position at the Democratic Convention and in front of OMI that we had to lose him so soon. There was no reason to sacrifice his defenders’ ability to argue for his integrity, by having his redevelopment chief exploit this one weird trick to hit up developers for bonus stacks of campaign cash.

You may take such impatience and dissatisfaction for so much whinging backseat driving, but it all adds up. While it is voguish to deride political idealism, rebellions are built on hope. I wonder what happens today in District 4 between Tony Coghill and Ashleigh Deemer. Is Peduto’s brand of progressivism still seen as vital and worth fighting for? Or after 3 years of seeing it in practice, are people more in the mood to give the technocratic idealists a break, and instead try something old? Who even becomes Council President if Coghill wins? I’m having trouble counting to five for Bruce Kraus, and that’s trouble for Peduto’s coalition. Without Rudiak to kick around anymore, Peduto allies like Kraus, Gilman and Gross, the so-called “progressives,” might find themselves on the outside looking in. And how would Peduto adapt to that? There’s a very real possibility that the great progressive reform wave in City Hall that began in 2007 might have already reached its high water mark. We’ll have to wait and see.

Either way, I want to see how Peduto finishes this…

… so if you’re still making up your mind, do consider making certain he gets the chance.

12 thoughts on “Comet endorses Bill Peduto again, hopes for the best!

    1. MH

      He didn’t need to mention biking. Harris called everybody’s house and complained about bike lanes.

  1. Emily Cleath

    What is the basis for your estimation that votes for Welch will leave Harris the victor? The last poll I could find — via Google, thanks for the suggestion — was from March. It had Peduto at 57%, Welch at 8%, undecideds at 24%. In other words, even if those undecideds all broke for Harris and Welch stole 20% of Peduto’s supporters, Peduto would still win by 12 points. That level of support for Harris seems highly unlikely to me. Instead, helping Welch come in second would allow him to send an important message about a number of critical issues, which would benefit everyone in this city.

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      That’s one good thing to be said about voting for Welch: the better his relative showing, the stronger his signal and the greater its pressure. What sort of number would Welch have to hit to advance that left-leaning energy though, beyond where he and left-activists have already brought it? 25? That might be tough. I guess first I have a hard time working off of polling, because if we’re going back to March for data points, “the polling” could hardly be very good. When I look at this, I guess find imposing the healthy degree of support that exists for Darlene Harris on the city’s Democratic committee, her geographic base on the North Side, and the Brexity, fractious, Black Swannish political climate. Call it an instinct.

      1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

        Upon further review, I wish I’d written:

        “And if too many of people do either of those things (in this very sleepy municipal primary) then we *might* wind up with Mayor Darlene Harris.”

  2. Helen Gerhardt

    Yep, Emily, when campaign cash plays such a big role in who wins (Peduto spent fifteen times the amount that Harris and Welch spent combined) elections remain important venues for comment by those who don’t have deep pockets. It seemed to most people I know spread across a wide range of communities and constituencies didn’t think that Harris didn’t have much of a chance of being a spoiler. So for me the main argument behind endorsement in this post seems to be more about an unrealistic fear rather than a balanced assessment of the merits of the candidates in relation to the most critical issues of concern that they raised or were challenged on.

    And you betcha, all the candidates certainly merited critique on both rhetoric and actions over time in their respective roles as Mayor, City Council representative, and as social justice activist with responsibilities and performance records that were certainly relevant to this diverse City as a whole, as well as to their respective long-time constituencies and “choirs” to which they were preaching.

    For me, though, those who wield most power deserve most open communication and critique of whatever form, because they’re going to have the most impact on the system as a whole, as well as on the lives of those who are most vulnerable and who have least access to participation in the system. I campaigned hard for the Mayor in the last election, and therefore feel a strong sense of responsibility to encourage voters to pull the lever in the direction of their own basic values and concerns based on the best information available about the candidates’ actual performance.

  3. Flybylight

    Well said, Bram. This Mayor studied mayoring. He went to school, to classes and seminars on his vacations while on Council, and continues to study best practices.

    So no matter to what degree the wealthy powerful may seem to get to him, we ought to continue to remind him that we are tired of them, and trust him to do the job.

    1. anon

      Here is fundamental flaw in the argument espoused here by Bram and Flybylight. The wealthy powerful are fully behind the mayor. Who is getting all the bond work? The same old banks, lawyers and major institutions. Who is getting all the development deals? The same old big moneyed developers. Big unions? Yep, getting the same good old contracts. The uber wealth foundations – getting everything they want. Big non-profits – zero pressure on them at all.

      What i am trying to figure out is who exactly is the enemy? Seriously, people like the Mayor and Flybylight talk about this mysterious enemy in our mist. Who is it? A few blue collar NS committee people? Really? Is that all you have? So wealthy east end committee people get board and commission gigs, get all the legal and financial gigs the city hands out and donate to the mayor and get the URA contracts and a couple lower middle class people in the NS and W. End are the enemy? The elite always need an enemy to further their stranglehold on government and power.

      The reality is the Mayor has been good at pulling all the levers of power and handing out whatever it takes to get there. It isn’t hard to hand out money and buy off groups like the unions and developers and affordable housing advocates. Just raise some taxes and fees and buy them off. All the while the middle class continues to leave the City. Yep, the population is STILL declining. Brand new rules for development along the river in the south side? Nah, they go by the wayside at zoning on the very first try when a mayoral donor is the developer.

      The Mayor is no progressive. McLay left not because the Mayor wasn’t good at negotiating. He left because he had strict rules about promotion in the police force and the Mayor went around him and violated them for political reasons. McLay resigned. Just call him and ask him directly.

      1. Bram ReichbaumBram R

        This is the first I’d heard that the Mayor went around the police chief to promote officers on political grounds. While a call to McLay might be warranted, I have my doubts whether he’d spill those sort of beans. Get in touch with me directly if you’d like to offer breadcrumbs.

      2. anon

        Breadcrumbs. Take a look at the time McLay left. Then, look at the promotions in the department just before that time. Then do an open records request for whether those promoted went through sensitivity training. Start asking, you will get there…

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