Friday: Whatever *

The first mayoral debate will be conducted today and will air tomorrow afternoon on KDKA, that being Saturday at 12:00 NOON, so as to maximize viewership (ha ha).

My only advice: both Independents ought to have snappy counterattacks ready for when the Democratic Republican protests that his opponents are only interested in talking about the past (i.e. his public record) whereas he’d rather talk about Pittsburgh’s future!

Also, we all get to roll our eyes mercilessly at anybody who makes vague references to “headlines” or “cronies” or even “pay-to-play” without detailing exactly what or who those are, and why they’re indicative or important moving forward.

I would advise both challengers to lay off one another and focus on attacking Luke — but that’s essentially what Dowd and Robinson did in the primary, to nil or negative effect. So hey guys, knock yourselves out, or should I say knock each other out. I’m obviously leaning towards Kevin Acklin a little bit at this precise juncture (*-UPDATE: this explained in comment #6 underleaf) — he just has been seeming more together, somehow, even serious — but obviously there’s no point to making up one’s mind until we watch at least one debate. My mind’s still very much open and I think that’s the consensus.

Some news: the ICA just returned the Mayor’s budget with an “Incomplete” and a “What The What?” (P-G, Trib). Zober can say what he wants but I’m pretty sure this is the first time the ICA dissed a budget proposal and asked a Mayor bluntly to fill in some gaping holes.

Extreme sincere congratulations to The City Paper for reporting in print that Mayor Ravenstahl donned police riot gear and told the American Civil Liberties Union and its local lead attorney Vic Walczak “fuck you”, just days after troubling events on Pitt campus in Oakland. I know the annual event is entitled “Off the Record” and I know it’s for charity, but even the White House Correspondent’s Dinner gets criticized for encouraging too-cozy relationships between government and the press — and that’s decidedly not even remotely off the record! So I’m not sure what they think they’re doing that’s so great. Although in the past, the players have conducted themselves with just enough intelligence to get away with their naughtiness, the City Paper made the right call in reporting the egregious lack of class and sense shown by our City’s leader just days after the fact. As I wrote somewhere earlier, he could have joked about the $1,000 garbage cans or anything else — or he could even have joked about G20 security issues without telling the defenders of our civil liberties point-blank what they can go do. Or he could have been funny in some way, a thing which multiple reports confirm did not transpire.

Now if we could only get a picture of him in his flight suit riot gear — or get some challengers who care about this issue. Though I remain impressed that individual officers didn’t lose their cool in a chaotic situation, or dish out any surreptitious punitive discipline that we know of — someone did make the call to pretty much storm through campus and arrest / gas / fire upon anything that moved, for questionable reasons.

14 thoughts on “Friday: Whatever *

  1. Anonymous

    Yup, definitely noon. From KDKA:

    “Harris joins incumbent Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Independent challenger Kevin Acklin for the debate which will air on KDKA-TV tomorrow at noon.”

    While I'm here, waiting to leave work, I've got to ask, Bram, for a more definitive rationale behind your lean at this point in the race, because right now your preference amounts to giving an A for effort. To me, there appears to be but two major rationales for voting in this race, and they could be blended into a third, more nuanced view. First, you vote for someone thinking they could actually win. Second, you vote for someone thinking that such a vote would demonstrate your commitment to a certain point of view. Third, combining the two, you vote for someone thinking they'll get at least close enough to winning that their vote total will send a message about the viability of their platform. Given Delano's report the other day, it's difficult to see your vote falling in the first column for either guy, but particularly for Acklin, when no one who JD interviewed recognized the name (put another way, Dok has name recognition, whether deserved or not). On the second matter, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of daylight between Acklin and Harris on their platforms (except for Acklin's political history, which you continually dismiss). The two are constantly accusing the other of plagiarism, and I've never heard one attack the other's plans on merit. Combining those two, of these candidates, the only one who could possibly get close enough to make Lukey scratch his head is Harris, and the message is fairly the same no matter the messenger.

    I just think there's a whole lot of attraction to the Acklin mythology about beating down doors (how many doors seems to change by the day) and having a name-brand campaign staff, and I'm not sure at all why that is, when it adds up to a fat lot of nothing in November. Does having Matt Merriman-Preston and an old newsman on your payroll and spinning unconfirmed yarns about wearing out your Nikes really add up to a better candidate?

    (As a postscript, I realize this is somewhat harsh given that you said your mind isn't made up. I'm not necessarily trying to persuade, so much as understand the Acklin “mystique” that appears to have gripped the Pgh blogosphere for reasons unknown. I guess, ultimately, we'll see tomorrow. If anyone tunes in.)

  2. Bram Reichbaum

    Not at all, Anon 2:17, nicely asked.

    For me, I think Dok's biggest problem has to do with Luke. After three years of ghastly awful youthfulness in the Mayor's office, I am simply in no mood to take a chance on another fresh young exciting commodity. The City is too important; the City's present situation is too critical. Give me the guy with less hair, better evident organization, and a more conventional presentation. Now I've seen Dok be fully serious and intellectual in person, but I think he exacerbates some of his other side by running a pretty comical campaign: in this week's City Paper, at least 5 of the “Top 10 Reasons” to vote for Dok were jokes (they all contained jokes, but at least five were pure yuk-yuk feel-good jokes), and tonight he's running some kind of “Win a Date with the Next Mayor” fundraiser. Doesn't scream gravitas to me.

    And again … THAT'S NOT ENTIRELY HIS FAULT that I view that negatively, I think I might have been more in the mood for that kind of energy in other circumstances. But not on the heels of the Animal House we got now.

    In addition to that, I think Acklin's plans are more numerous and more fully fleshed out that those of Harris. I could be wrong and that's why the debates are still important — also to vet those very plans. But again in today's CP ad, Harris boasts that he'll solve the pension plans WITHOUT TAXING HOSPITAL PATIENTS AND COLLEGE STUDENTS! That sounds great, but it's like, so show me the money. Even Luke deserves credit for realism there.

    Finally, if I “buy into” any of Acklin's schtick it's not the doorknocking (I didn't just fall off the turnip truck) but rather the scrappy Central grad / single mother on welfare / worked his way up to be a big successful lawyer / nice wholesome guy narrative (I may have at some point spent time on a turnip truck).

    As to your notions on gamesmanship: 1) I voted for Nader in 2000 to make a statement and help him reach a percentage, and I'm NOT making that mistake again, and 2) if we were destined to see a great tsunami of support for Harris based in part on Steelers fever, I think we would have felt it by now.

    As you say, that's just a frank explanation of my “lean”. I'll be tuning in tomorrow if I can, and if I can't I trust will be warehousing the video.

  3. fourth river

    I actually watched it on It was my first time seeing Acklin, and I thought he did well. Dok had his moments, but he seemed too eager to please. Acklin has that benevolent civil servant vibe that kind of works.

    I admire Dok for getting into the arena and for his exuberance for a city he loves dearly…maybe he could take one for the thoughtful independent team and offer to serve Acklin in some capacity in a new administration? They might not win this time, but organize the progressives and marginalized non-voters and they might have a shot at getting it done.

  4. Anonymous

    Luke will win with 70% of the vote. The so called “progressive” and “marginalized non-voters” will blog on each others blog and complain. They will garner about 20 votes for the next lamb that gets thrown up to say feel good things without actually making decisions on real issues. Keep trying, it is a nice diversion from reality.

  5. Mark Rauterkus

    Democracy is a blasted and messy diversion from reality. Those instances of voting are so brief and out of the realm of most regular days. Decisions are left to others to make — if they are to be made at all as the done deals are so everywhere. When citizens get to vote and decide, it is sorta un-real.

  6. deegazette

    It kind of rattled me that at 11:58 as I was about to turn the TV on my doorbell rang. My little dog is still recovering from surgery and the big dog likes to protect me, so I slipped a jacket on and stepped onto the porch minus the big dog. Standing there were three Harris canvassers. I had to explain that I was about to watch the debate and had little time for them. I am thinking co-mayors Acklin and Harris might be nice. Or…should I take the ringing of the doorbell as a sign? Before anyone tosses spitballs in my direction, I take nothing seriously on weekends.


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