Harris and Acklin were both sincere-sounding, nervous, and lacking for any truly point-scoring hits. Ravenstahl on the other hand delivered a studio-ready and dynamic presentation, but that shouldn’t disguise the fact that it was all bullshit.
That’s what we’re going to explore here — but first I have to critique the ordinarily impressive Ken Rice for one thing: why lead off the program with, “The biggest question in this race — is this really a race?”
If you count Bill Peduto’s partial run, this now marks four straight elections in which our media obsessed, from their very outsets, on the idea that these were all forgone conclusions. And by implication, that any challengers should be described as “losers”. Ordinarily this falls under the aegis of punditry, but for some reason this is forever the lead story. It’s as though nobody is familiar with the term “self-fulfilling prophecy”. Admittedly, this particular contest seems contracted for a variety of reasons, but in general how is this compulsive fixation of odds — which always rears its tiresome head months and months in advance — in any way edifying to the viewing and reading public?
Spend energy communicating and investigating the ideas being exchanged, and leave the spin to the professional hacks already.
Oh, and when possible, do it all “greenishly” — because there’s free money being handed out these days for that anyway, and you are technically a Democrat.
He says he’s asked for “exactly what Kevin has suggested” in an investigation — yet Kevin asked for a “Blue Ribbon Commission”, that is, something new and independent; not the present police department investigating itself through its own methods. In addition, Ravenstahl would obscure any inquiry into the city’s public safety decision making by losing it within a Regional “How We ‘Handled’ the G20” evaluation with an infinitely broad scope (though I bet they determine they handled it real good).
How he can state point-blank that “there was no militarization of Oakland” is beyond me. It’s like there’s so little for him riding on this debate, he can say up is down.
“…80% of the investment at the URA in my administration has been in small businesses of less than 20 people”
What’s the percentage if we discount Lawrenceville? More importantly, when we deal with a developer, do many developers actually require more than 20 full-time paid staff? If the URA invests in a developer that is involved in bringing in a Big Lots, and that developer is just a couple of guys, a couple of their accountants, a few draftsmen and their own personal assistants — plus consultants taken on as-needed — does that count as investing in a small business?
We need accountability. We also need to keep the libraries open. Making a big deal about the former will not help us accomplish the latter, it will only sooth our consciences a little.
Luke boasts that he introduced new campaign finance reform, and “looks forward to its implementation in January.” I think we can leave that there.
Which brings us to Acklin’s curve ball concerning John Verbanac and Ed Grattan. That will either be remembered as the biggest missed opportunity, or the biggest score, of the debate — depending upon whether or not he’s setting Luke up for a suplex down the road.
From what I can glean, both of these gentlemen are what are commonly known as “money guys” — big money guys, statewide money guys — fund raisers, business investors, lobbyers, relationship-builders. The interesting things would be whether they are invested in any of the companies that have received lucrative no-bid contracts from City and authority governments, whether they have been involved in lobbying for those contracts and for their other interests, and whether they had a role in transporting funds or other exchangeables from those businesses to the Mayor’s campaign or other concerns.
It’s hard to say because there’s so much seeming mythology involved. According to chatter, these are the guys that really own the town — it would make trying to change the course of Pittsburgh by criticizing Luke Ravenstahl something like trying trying to change McDonalds’ business practices by criticizing Ronald McDonald.
Curious however that Luke’s answer was so curt and definitive: they’re only “friends”. Friends that have no “formal” role in his administration. Got to wonder why that little qualifier, “formal”.