Still the man you love to hate:

In a New Year’s Eve surprise, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl this afternoon vetoed prevailing wage legislation passed unanimously by city council 10 days ago Coming at the end of council’s two-year session, the timing of the veto was apparently meant to leave council no chance to vote to override. (P-G, Rich Lord)

You know, lately there’s been a lot of chatter about a wing of Council that is very concerned about being able to work “collaboratively”, “cooperatively” or “interdependently” with Ravenstahl. It was based on a fallacy that was so divorced from reality, it was hard to spot until just now.

After many meetings, Council came together to pass this law unanimously, 9-0. The administration chose not to take part in the crafting of the legislation, chose not to oppose its passage, and chose not to veto it in a manner consistent with the sensible and fair operation of government. They chose to veto it on New Years Eve, at 3:30 PM, after the Council term came to a close (and one member had actually resigned to become a judge), thereby spitting in the eye of their governmental partners, and of the institution in general.

And we’re supposed to believe it’s Bill Peduto and his ilk that is the source of friction, resentment and ill will on Grant Street. Right. Happy New Year, Luke, I hope it was worth it.


  1. monk

    I love Luke!

    His understanding of political proceedure…

    Not near the nim witt you portray.

    Law as written was pourous.

    Thinking, he saw holes…


  2. monk


    What really happened was Mayor read paper concerning Centre City Tower and law pushed by SEIU. Gabe, SEIU Boss, has face full of egg…as does Mike Healy, lawyer for Plaintiff.

    Supreme Court gave management the right to manage, or, preserved the rights of management…a sacred right.

    The Mayor's decision is based on recent decision of law…


  3. Anonymous

    Don't attack the Mayor – analyze on the legislation:

    -Is it good for Pittsburgh's business community?
    -Is it good for communities who want development, real living-wage jobs?
    -Is it a hinderance or an incentive?
    -Is it competitive?

  4. Conservative Mountaineer

    This prevailing wage law is one of many that should be vetoed or struck down; another being the Davis-Bacon Act.

    Sure, some developers receive, have received and will receive some '$$ help' from the City to commit to a project. Whoop-ti-do. Some of the past, current or anticipated projects would be (are you ready?).. MONEY LOSERS without some help.

    Who in their right mind would commit millions of dollars to build a food store in the Hill District without some assistance? Developers and businesses are NOT charities.

    City Council, in their infinite wisdom (I think I'll hurl right here) wanted to extend draconian wage restrictions to the tenants.. FOREVER! Even the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th tenant, etc. The developer/builder already had to pay exhorbitant prevailing wages (a/k/a Union wages) for construction.. and people marvel at the cost to build something in the City..

    Maybe, just maybe, more development would occur in the City (and, elsewhere) if developers and business owners could pay what they deem reasonable. Don't like the pay and benefits? Look elsewhere for work. No one has a gun to your head and says “You must work for these wages”.

    Oh, if prevailing wages laws did not apply (e.g., Davis-Bacon), could it be that projects and/or publics works projects wouldn't NEED subsidies? Hmmm?

    Naaahh, 'cuz then the corrupt politicians and Unions wouldn't be able to control everything.

    It's all about power and control.

  5. PatFordSaidItBest

    Urban Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Pat Ford issued a strongly worded resignation letter today, alleging a “culture of deception and corruption” and saying he will no longer “support the actions of what I believe to be a failed administration” nor seek to “return to a position where I will again be forced to serve as a scapegoat for the inappropriate affairs and activities of others.”

    Once again Ravenstahl proves that he is a corrupt individual who only looks out for those who line his pockets.

  6. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 8:17
    – There's more to life than supply side economics.
    – 3 of your 4 points are slightly differently worded versions of the exact same thing
    – “Is it good for communities who want development, real living-wage jobs?” … Um, yes?
    – Why give the mayor a pass? He could have expressed opposition to this in its development but he didn't. He could have vetoed this without discovering a fantastic loophole and he didn't. He just went nuclear on mayor-council relations while the other side of his mouth was whining about “unity”.

  7. Anonymous

    whatever you position on the bill, the WAY luke handled it was underhanded…

    “He could have expressed opposition to this in its development but he didn't”

    More than ever we need a loyal opposition in council…

  8. CouncilFail

    What is up with Dowd showing up and then claiming he was “not present”?

    He is obviously still pissed about the way he was treated by Doug Shields. The vote was 9-0 and somehow council failed to get the job done.

  9. Anonymous

    Dowd is a loner. Every thing he does has to be his way. He has no idea on how to be a team player.

    He is book smart and common sense stupid.

  10. n'at

    I see Dowd's position here is the same as his stance regarding council's actions concerning the Lamar billboard. He's independent in a sense that he adheres to the bureaucratic and legislative processes regardless of his position on a subject.

    Right, wrong, just or unjust; Ravenstahl is allowed to do what he did. However, when council attempts to “do right” by bending the rules it sets a bad precedent for policymaking.

    Cant have it both ways. Fix/tweak/massage the language and reintroduce the bill in the new year. Then introduce legislation to prohibit the administration from performing such an action ever again.

  11. Bram Reichbaum

    I agree that we lose focus when we talk about the meeting. The big news that occurred yesterday was the N'th hour veto. Council members can and should be forgiven for reacting in outrage. I am more interested in Dowd's opinion on the mayoral action taken yesterday rather than his predictable opinion about Doug Shields.

    Did you see that Joe Hoeffel denounced Ravenstahl's veto? See news in sidebar.

  12. Anonymous

    The cowardly actions were by Council a) most of whom never even read the union-written legislation; b) who despite having the legislation since mid-year, introduced it at Thanksgiving under the cover of the tuition-tax budget issue; c) who tried to adopt bill with no public discussion or debate (transparency in government?); and d) who acted childish in bullying and silencing Dowd, who was simply trying to clarify the purposefully vague language in the bill. This bill will be struck dead by the courts.

  13. n'at

    I'd be more interested to see what the Republican candidates think of all this. Afterall, Pennsyltuky will most likely win election day.

    Perspectives: Good for government because it's citizens with greater buying power, less dependence on social services and increases government revenue through wage taxes. For the business, it's reduced labor turnover, attracts quality labor and increases labor output.

  14. EdHeath

    I agree with n'at's first comment to a degree. It sounds like Pat Dowd undermined his own message with his indecorous behavior.

    I am sure the Mayor's action was totally legal. But I am also sure his intention was to provoke. Still, what has he accomplished? It seems likely to me that the new council will pass similar legislation early this year, and will over ride a veto if the Mayor does it again.

    Conservative Mountaineer wants to take away any protections workers might have (wage floors, unions, etc). Now, I will be the first to say that some negative aspects of the structure of unions have worked against the benefit of both industries and the workers in those industries. However, given that we have just finished a decade in which the only the rich have benefited, and given that Republicans like CM are blocking access to health care for millions, CM has no credibility to accuse the City Council of bad intentions (not until he can justify the intentions of other Republicans like him).

    To suggest that only by paying poverty wages in the city can businesses survive is to suggest that people who start businesses or work in the city are stupid. In point of fact it has been clearly shown that city dwellers and city workers have a smaller carbon footprint. To live on a planet where we make an attempt at living sustainably we all need to consider living in cities as much as possible. I realize people who care about having big houses and big cars won't like such things. I can only hope they will think about their and everyone's grand and great-grandchildren someday.

  15. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 2:25 –Under cover of the tuition-tax budget issue”? Someone gets major points for creativity. City Council trumpeted from the rooftops its intentions and actions regarding the Prevailing Wage ordinance, held a public hearing and a special meeting prior to voting, and got major ink for everything over the month and more it was deliberated.

    Though I'll say again I'm no fan that Dowd's dozen amendments never got formally presented — so we could see them for what they were — his concerns absolutely were aired during one of those lengthy meetings. That he again chose to emphasize only his gripes about his colleagues in lieu the substance of his complaints is only his own fault. Seems with Motznik gone, someone has to step up to the plate as the angry clown that sets out to distract the media from the issues at the other end of the hall and make the whole of Council look bad. Nice work if you can get it.

  16. JenEngland

    So many comments to shoot down, so little time. I'll start with the “anonymous” 2:25 comment. Everyone on council read the bill numerous times as members of the faith community, the environmental community, the labor community and the, um community community, went over the pieces with them. Many times. The legislation was not in hand since mid year. It was only conceived and suggested by Shields after the Mayor locked labor out and developers ignored faith and environmental and community actions in July. Its actually the Mayor's doing.
    And prevailing wage just says that PUBLICLY FUNDED development, ie things built with tax money, cant under cut local wages already being paid in PRIVATE ENTERPRISES NOT RECEIVING PUBLIC HANDOUTS. Conservative Mountaineer and Monk, this is actually kind of in line with your conservative mantra about govt. not undercutting the market isn't it???
    Everything everyone else has pointed out covers much of my other comments. Dowd was never silenced, he had plenty of opportunities to comment on and in fact participate in crafting the bill, he made his bed, experts did in fact come in from out of town to testify about the what research shows to be the effect of these types of laws (including one hotel developer) yada yada yada. All the spin is making me dizzy…

  17. Anonymous

    Ignoring the merits of the bill – what did the mayor gain by doing this?

    He just pissed off Council, Unions, people who are underpaid and would like more money – and for what? Council will just pass the same bill January 14th or so.

    Dowd might vote against it because he votes against anything, Burgess might vote against it because he's the mayor's bitch – but it's still going to pass.

    Why in the world would Yarone Zober, I mean Luke Ravenstahl veto this thing?

  18. Mark Rauterkus

    What did the mayor gain with the veto. Well, he'll keep more money in the bank of the city so as to NOT pay out a lot of lawyers to defend a law that is hard to defend. Then Luke will be able to spend that money on other things — like patronage jobs that pay a living wage, or not.

    When will everyone wake up and determine that there should be NO PUBLIC MONEY going to PRIVATE developers in the first place. Once that happens, then we begin to soar and real jobs (not one's from bribes) can take root.

  19. Conservative Mountaineer

    Ed.. You said “CM has no credibility to accuse the City Council of bad intentions (not until he can justify the intentions of other Republicans like him).”

    Last time I looked the health care legislation passed anyway without Republican support. That legislation and its impact is now owned 100% lock-stock-and-barrel by the liberals.

    Nice try. [Also, has nothing to do with the current topic. Nice try to derail the topic.. typical liberal tactic.]

  20. Anonymous

    Once again this is complete hypocrisy from Peduto, Shields and their allies in the blogosphere. None of which have ever held a job in the private sector.

    This bill was pushed through under the cover of darkness (tuition tax) and was not given proper debate or scrutiny. Peduto, Shields and Rudiak have taken thousands upon thousands of dollars from SEIU and its affiliates. This is corruption at its best. The SEIU wrote the legislation and everyone knows it. Ask Bill or Doug to tell you they wrote it.

    The hypocisy is that they accuse others of being influenced by money. Hogwash. They accuse others of being underhanded. Hogwash. They didn't allow debate and strong armed others into supporting the bill. When the Mayor lawfully veto's the bill, Shields calls an ILLEGAL meeting. I am sure Bram and others who nothing about which they speak with rationalize this move, as they always do. Bill and Doug got outsmarted, plain and simple. Looks like our Mayor is a little smarter than they thought and thankfully for Pittsburgh's sake he has a little more guts. Great work Mayor. Keep it up. Most of the people out here in the planet of reality are behind you.

  21. EdHeath

    CM, you said “the health care legislation passed anyway without Republican support”. Meaning the Republicans did not contribute to the legislation, because they oppose any health care/insurance reform. You raised economic arguments to oppose the prevailing wage bill. My point was that since Republicans simply oppose any reform in health care/insurance reform (with the accompanying disastrous economic consequences that would entail) and in fact since Republicans also opposed an economic stimulus (with the same accompanying disastrous economic effects), why should we accept your arguments about the prevailing wage bill. And why do you say that City businesses will not survive unless they pay less than average wages for the area? Are City workers inherently inferior and thus should be paid less?

    Oh, and sorry you can't expand your brain to understand comparative economic arguments. I forget how limited conservative are. I'll try to speak slowly for you.

  22. Anonymous

    I love it when people say “poverty wages.” Do you mean the decent wages and benefits paid at the Casino? You mean the casino workers that VOTED DOWN the SEIU? Do you mean the workers at the hotel in Oakland that VOTED DOWN the SEIU? Is that what this is about? The SEIU can't convince people that joining their ranks is in their best interest. They can't win through the democratic process so they try and ram illegal legislation down our throats? Read the Center City Tower case. This new legislation is doomed. Just like saturation legislation. This council can't seem to get it right. Take a look at Open book Pittsburgh. It has opened my eyes, but not in the way the so-called progressives thought it would. Look at how munch money the unions are showering on Council. Anyone want to guess why we are in so much debt? Why the pension is killing us? Why the City continues to lose population?

  23. EdHeath

    Anon 10:45, does the prevailing wage bill say that workers at enterprises subsidized by the City must join the SEIU or any union? I mean it is possible that without modification the prevailing wage bill will not survive a court challenge. But I gather similar legislation has passed in other states and cities. I do understand that apparently the unions supported this legislation, but I do not think that it's passage will necessarily help their cause specifically.

    If you wish to tell us about how much councilpersons are receiving from unions or how much Ravenstahl is getting from local business persons, from behind the cover of being “Anonymous”, by all means. And if you can link that to current debt and even population loss, go for it.

  24. rich10e

    The law sucked…it is counter development..ask a developer,not Andy Stern…Hoagie and Bram are both pissing and moan because the mayor out witted the intelligentsia….this is all politics,all the time….

  25. TheTruth

    Anyone want to guess why we are in so much debt?

    Because rather than using money to pay down debt, our city leaders issued more, failing to take into account a shrinking tax base and compounding the problem by using the proceeds to plug holes in their budget(s).

    Why the pension is killing us?

    Because our previous leaders chose to ignore the growing pension problem and issued debt in an attempt to properly fund it after the fact. This strategy failed miserably because they issued non-callable debt at high rates and then hired terrible “investment managers” to oversee the funds.

    Why the City continues to lose population?

    Under-performing schools and high taxes are a terrible mix.

  26. Bram Reichbaum

    There's this bug going around in which the Mayor's supporters insist that his critics think he is a “nim wit” or whatever. Go hunt through 3 years worth of this blog and find where I ever once suggested such a thing. You guys are either projecting your own insecurities onto others, and/or you've opted for full-on Palin-style cultural warfare (which does add up, after having vilified college students).

    Another thing: if even one individual, anybody, anywhere in the world buys this baseless fiction that the bill was “rushed through”, I'm going to shake them. I was on summer vacation in Wildwood, NJ when the bill became a major topic of discussion. It was editorialized upon in several installments. It was held for a special public hearing. It was held for a post agenda session. It passed a preliminary vote and was held for a week as is usual before final action. The only reason Dowd's amendments weren't discussed is because nobody else was remotely interested in them. There was no “rush”. That is a hack job.

    And what is this … the bill's language is unfortunately “vague” and “ambiguous”, but oh yeah, the whole underlying concept is totally dangerous and wrong also? Which is it? It's like even after the die has been cast, they can't simply come out and admit they're staunchly against this business, they have to throw out flimsy excuses. BLECH! YUCK! PTOOEY!

  27. Bram Reichbaum

    Oh and one more thing — when you're gobbling down public subsidy like its turkey gravy, I think you lose your bragging rights to claim, “Ooh, I'm a BUSINESS owner, I'm in the PRIVATE sector, I'm in the REAL WORLD and have to meet PAYROLL” and whatever.

  28. Anonymous

    Interesting, I wonder how the Mayor feels about being second string to Yarone? I am not suggesting the Mayor is incompetent either, but maybe as the Fable goes “The Emperor's New Clothes”.
    An excerpt,

    “Um, Oh yes indeed, I do see it!” the King said, not wanting to be thought of as unworthy of his office or stupid. “Of course I see it.”

  29. Anonymous

    Ed Heath – debt and pension are directly related to union giveaways. Public Safety and Pension portion of the City budget is somewhere in the 80% range. Yes, you are right about schools and taxes running people out of the City. That is the point though. Over and over again elitists in the East End (who send their kids to private schools) and unions have run this City. Their agenda continues to trump the interests of business, the middle class and common sense. That, my friend, is the point. This bill is once again nothing more than hostility towards private business. Just look at Bram's comments. They don't discuss or analyze the real effects of this bill at all. They just take shots at developers and private interests.

    Bram – for the record, this is one Anon that believes the bill was both intentionally vague and bad in substance. And no, this legislation has not worked elsewhere. Quite parroting what you hear from Gabe Morgan and provide a few concrete examples (one is not sufficient in a Country this large, particularly not a single example that passed within a few years time).

    Finally, these developers aren't “gobbling down public subsidy.” Provide examples. I dare you. Again, not just one, but several. Tell me the developers and projects that have “gobbled down” public subsidy. Poor journalism on your part to not have done so from the outset. On the contrary, the reason any of these projects get subsidy is because they don't work without it. Thus, the project doesn't get built. Ergo, the building trades don't get the jobs. Remember, all these “evil subsidy gobbling” developments you complain of ARE IN FACT paying prevailing wage to the building trades in construction. Again, poor journalism on your part.

  30. Anonymous

    Tell me the developers and projects that have “gobbled down” public subsidy. Yaronne Zober aka Anon 8;57!!!

    Bakery Square for one – gets money and board seat on zoning. And you put up the big Mayor's campaign poster on top of the bldg. Didn't you?

  31. EdHeath

    Anon 8:57, you make some reasonable points, but I notice you also fail to discuss the effect of the prevailing wage bill. My understanding is that prevailing wage pays the average wage for a geographic area (to be honest, I don't know the size of the area). So pray tell, what is the ill effect caused by that, especially if the company had received a hundred dollar leg up from the City.

    And yes, the pension debt is a result of union giveaways (from past councils and mayors), and if I am not mistaken the pension fund was raided or at least deliberately underfunded, again by past city governments. Now, I didn't say anything about schools and taxes running people out of town. I think that is part of the cause of people leaving town, but hardly the only. People dying off, or not being able to find a good paying job could be others as well.

    Some East End elitists send their kids to private schools (as well as suburban elitists), some send them to public schools in the East End like Allderdice. In any event, are you saying that people should not be allowed to exercise their right to spend their money and yet still pay their (admittedly not recently adjusted) property taxes. I don't want to get into a discussion of property taxes, they need to be re-assessed.

    And I will say that the interests of businesses do not necessarily reflect common sense. For example, when businesses pollute the government has to step in to protect the common good (the classic no one owns the air or the water, so no one can prevent companies polluting into them). For this specific prevailing wage law, I certainly am interested in someone specifically saying how it hurts business in the City, specifically.

    I don't always present both sides of an argument when I comment, but that doesn't mean I am not aware there can be two (or more) sides. I already gone too long on this comment, though.

  32. rich10e

    Bram said
    “Oh and one more thing — when you're gobbling down public subsidy like its turkey gravy, I think you lose your bragging rights to claim, “Ooh, I'm a BUSINESS owner, I'm in the PRIVATE sector, I'm in the REAL WORLD and have to meet PAYROLL” and whatever”


  33. Anonymous

    First of all the root cause of the pension problem is a STATE issue, not CITY.

    I'll say that again, it is the STATES fault, not the CITY'S.

    When the state mandates that public safety employees can retire at the age of 50, and those employees live till 80, that's a problem. That is not something that was collectively bargained, it is a STATE LAW. The reason the suburbs aren't screwed yet? They don't have more people collecting pensions than paying into the fund – but they will.

    As for the veto, who cares? Council will just pass it at the first meeting of the year, with Rudiak in for Motznik there are even more votes behind it than ever.

    So why veto it? Still haven't had a real answer to that since I asked it yesterday at 6:39 – its going to get passed in two weeks (regardless of the merit of the bill or who wrote it), why veto it? It makes no sense.

  34. Matt H

    “Most of the people out here in the planet of reality are behind you.”

    Oh really? I really don't think that is the case at all. Resentment against this administration is at an all-time high within community leaders who don't live on the North Side.

    If more people would pay attention to what is really going on behind closed doors more and more people would run from the Ravenstahl camp.

  35. Matt H

    “The law sucked…it is counter development..ask a developer,not Andy Stern…Hoagie and Bram are both pissing and moan because the mayor out witted the intelligentsia….this is all politics,all the time….”

    But by pulling this veto stunt at the time in which he did it proved why this administration will never have any sort of relationship with City Council. They haven't reached out to Council members who don't give them a blank check on every issue and they never will. These folks in the Mayor's office have no intentions of working with anyone they perceive as an enemy. They are all about themselves and always will be.

    Look how they are treating Tonya Payne after she showed them a lot of loyalty over the years. They are willing to work with her enemies in Udin & Wheatley just to secure Lavelle's vote for their choice of Council President.

  36. monk

    There are things that matter more…

    Written To Sabino Mistick, Duquesne Law Professor.

    “Was reading latest book on Mao…he is on his fourth wife. (smart?)

    Was guy in Mao book called Red Prof. Prof. makes me think of you…

    Italians sense family…Mao did not.

    Very much enjoying family as I write.

    None are jailed, the unmarried as well as the married are not pregnant. (heard talk of married couple and baby!)

    In our fathers times much has gone wrong. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Ito and, one can argue, Truman…the new “bad' pale by comparison. Perhaps it is due to proximity of 2012?

    “Enjoy the Ride”

    …in baby carriage?”


    Legislation was poorly written.

    Dowd, for Council President! Based on conviction…and, anti-fascists remarks.

  37. rich10e

    you've been touting Tonna Pain for waaaay to long…she has proven herself to be unworthy of being City Chair for her deceitful write in campaign…and she has proven herself to be unfit for council by the vote of her constituents…she'll soon find that she in no more welcome on a bigger stage..that of state rep.

    my feeling about this legislation is not a pro-luke stance..its more so a pro-development, pro city statement..tying our boat to SEIU is non-strategy for success….

  38. Anonymous


    Thanks for that thought provoking post.I'm sure Mistick thinks you are nuts.

    Why don't you resolve to post something remotely coherent this year? Your buddy Dowd likes “clarity.” Not jibberish.

  39. Mark Rauterkus

    The root solution, BRAM, is not to teach manners to those gobbling down public subsidy like its turkey gravy — but instead — to not serve any public subsidy. Once that (public subsidy) is slashed from the menu, then we'll all rejoice.

    Pigs will still exist, but they won't be at a feast on the money from the taxpayers.

  40. Maria


    “Seems with Motznik gone, someone has to step up to the plate as the angry clown that sets out to distract the media from the issues at the other end of the hall and make the whole of Council look bad. Nice work if you can get it.”

    So true! I came to exact same conclusion: “I guess now that Motznik is gone Dowd felt compelled to make a grab for the title of “Clowncilman.”

  41. Anonymous

    “Oh really? I really don't think that is the case at all. Resentment against this administration is at an all-time high within community leaders who don't live on the North Side.”

    That's a very rich statement coming from you.

  42. Anonymous

    I have reluctantly posted this comment. As I have read these blogs now for a long while with out comment I am amazed how much some posters seem to say or think they are in the know, or have all of these conspiracy theories or think every anom is Zober. Bram for someone who does get some inside info I am surprised how far off the mark you are on this one. The mayor vetoed this for 2 big reasons. The first was the latest Supreme Court ruling and the second was the request by over 40 UNIONS in Pittsburgh to veto the bill! The SCIU is in the middle of a big raid on the UNITE-HERE unions. They represent most of the hotel, laundry and others in PA. If you contact Jen Blatz who was sent to Pittsburgh by the UNITE-HERE international union she could explain further. 412-212-1142. It was bad legislation not well read by Peduto, Shields ect. SCIU wrote the bill and there are many problems. What is wrong with now having the new council write a bill that just might survive a court challenge. The Mayor did the right thing!


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