Gettin’ On the Midnight Train to Georgia

From the P-G:

Georgia Blotzer, 59, of Mt. Washington, will try challenge Theresa Smith, 49, of Westwood, who took office last week. The other announced candidate in the primary is Rob Frank, 40, of Duquesne Heights.

Ms. Blotzer took 25 percent of the vote running as an independent after Ms. Smith won the Democratic Committee nomination, and said in a press release yesterday that she’s now “liberated to run as the Democrat that I am.” (P-G, Rich Lord)

This is an opportune moment to disclose that I am now doing some part-time communications consulting for the Blotzer campaign. You could call it pro-bono work, but it would probably be more accurate to call it volunteerism.

The views expressed here on the Comet obviously do not and will never in any way represent the views of Georgia Blotzer, Democrat.

She offered a four-point platform of improving services in the city’s western neighborhoods, reforming campaign finance and contracting, developing strategically and holding regular meetings at “neighborhood hot-spots.” (P-G, ibid)

MORE: City Paper Slag Heap.

Now then. This is also a good time to mention something that had been percolating in my brain since Theresa Kail-Smith’s inauguration speech. I would not confuse this with a message that will resonate strongly among voters, but it does encapsulate some of the reasons why I find myself so supportive of Ms. Blotzer.

First, let us recall some of the speeches by the last crop of new members of Council:

“Our steel mills are gone and our economy is declining,” [Mr. Burgess] said. “Our population is dwindling and our residents are becoming older. Our neighborhoods remain economically and socially homogenous, and our city’s poor remain trapped in a cycle of inter-generational poverty.”

The remedy: “Equity, in every contract proposed, and in every development planned. Equity, in every public dollar allocated and in every public policy recommended.” (P-G, 1/07/08)


Mr. Kraus, who is openly gay, cited gay rights icon Harvey Milk, a San Francisco politician who was assassinated in 1978 “so that one day, some 30 years later, one’s orientation would no longer be a factor in determining their ability to serve as an elected official.”

He called for “a city where all people are invited to our great common table, to share in an equal voice and have every opportunity to participate in the stewardship of their futures, and have access to every resource that will lift them and their loved-ones up [to] the very highest quality of life.” (P-G, ibid)


Mr. Dowd called for “ending the old politics of personality” so council can help “craft a new vision for Pittsburgh.” He said he decorated his new office with “some smelly shoes” that he wore every day while knocking on hundreds of doors during the campaign. “They will stand in my office for the next four years, and they will remind me … of the importance of communication and connection” with the people who elected him. (P-G, ibid)

Not quite as powerful, but a quick look at his campaign website reminds us that his message at the time was all about ending “patronage” and government’s “culture of entitlement”, which I think is where “the old politics” comes in.

These folks came into office wanting to make a lasting mark.

Smith had comparably far less to say on her big day — aside from several appeals for “unity” and a great show of appreciation for the Committee ward chairs who made her victory possible (Mark Rauterkus). As far as an agenda, she did approach the question of “what is in the best interests of serving our constituents, and how are we going to make it happen?”

These were her thoughts on that:

When we can answer that by working towards compromise with respect — decisions with dignity — we will have one voice that will extend beyond the united community to a pulsating Pittsburgh.

Pulsating Pittsburgh? I wonder whose office wrote that. The speech was probably written by committee (no pun intended) but that wasn’t the Theresa Smith with which I was familiar.

Respect and dignity were both underscored for effect. How do we unpack that line? It’s tempting to assume, “It means nothing, it’s an inaugural speech, it’s just platitudes”, but I really think she said something there. Translated:

By keeping the real debate about the city’s future behind closed doors, and by ignoring calls for what would be disruptive “reforms”, those who are accustomed to our way of government can continue to spend the public’s time and energies on large-scale new construction that excites our constituents, caters to our suburban neighbors, and enriches our contributors. If we support this agenda faithfully, District 2 may finally host some of this development.

It’s not as though that strategy doesn’t have its internal logic — but it’s nothing District 2 hasn’t tried before. Hopefully, this campaign will be about ways to craft practical, ambitious solutions to District 2’s challenges (and to Pittsburgh’s challenges) and bring about what we are all clear the District’s voters seem to want: CHANGE.

10 thoughts on “Gettin’ On the Midnight Train to Georgia

  1. Anonymous

    Given the whining and crying that ensured after the swearing in ceremony of Smith, One can only wonder who would better serve the residents. It seems that some people look for the bright lights and some realize that there is a job to be done.


    Is this the Pittsburgh Comet or the Pittsburgh JUKE BOX? Everything has a connection right? For some reason, now you have the HUDDLER thinking of TRAIN SONGS… And for some reason the GRATEFUL DEAD, “Casey JONES” is stuck in the HUDDLERS mind this mid-afternoon?But honestly can you think of a better song regarding politics? LMFAO.The HUDDLER needs to learn how to add cheesy videos onto his blog!

  3. Matt H

    “Hopefully, this campaign will be about ways to craft practical, ambitious solutions to District 2's challenges (and to Pittsburgh's challenges) and bring about what we are all clear the District's voters seem to want: CHANGE.”We do want change here. We want more attention from the city and in particular the Mayor's office. There is never enough attention paid to our District.We voted earlier this month and put the best candidate in.How is Blotzer going to overcome her huge shortcomings in the 20th & 28th wards where the election is won?Having Frank in the race hurts Blotzer in her base which is the 19th Ward.Smith could not spend 1 second in the 19th Ward campaigning and still win based on the demographics of who determines this Council seat.

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    Matt asked, “How is Blotzer going to overcome her huge shortcomings in the 20th & 28th wards where the election is won?”Kail-Smith received less than half of the vote in a special election marked by exceedingly low turnout. Aside from that information, we will let you know how we did it after it's done.

  5. Star Mickey Rourke. The same kind of people who think Mickey Rourke should have won the Oscar are the same kind of people who think Lynn Cullen should be back on local radio. They dont look at the body of work, they look at the sensationalism. I, personally, think John McIntire needs to be back on local radio. McIntire is the Sean Penn of Pittsburgh. He works his mother-freaking fingers to the bone on every project that he does and he brings our little city the provocative edge that it needs. So what if sometimes he seems like an asstard? Who doesnt? All Im saying is Mickey Rourke did not deserve to win. Sean Penn did. Word.

  6. Mark Rauterkus

    I wish Kraus would walk the talk of a city where all people are invited to our great common table. Equity in contracts is fixed with the elimination of all no bid contracts. The four-year expiration date for Dowd’s shoes is still at a half-life. Theresa’s term is “special” and brief (less than 1 year.) The next election was not lost on Theresa as she spoke on day 1. Grandstanding isn’t becoming. Her talk, for good reason, was a more gracious approach.

  7. Matt H

    “Kail-Smith received less than half of the vote in a special election marked by exceedingly low turnout. Aside from that information, we will let you know how we did it after it's done.”Still didn't answer the question.Blotzers shortcomings are far too great to overcome.She is way too weak in the 20th & 28th wards to win the race.

  8. Anonymous

    Ms. Smith is and always will be primarily about the communities. She knows the issues. She knows the players and she is about change. In District 2 we need someone who is primarily concerned about district 2 and to do that you must know the communities (plural). While Ms. Blotzer may be a lovely woman, she never set foot in the West End communities prior to her seeking the committee seat. The same is not true of Ms. Smith who frequently ventured outside of her Westwood neighborhood. She spoke to the people, learned the issues and developed a reputation as a woman who brings all the right people to the table. That is why she earned the nomination and why she is our councilwoman today. I believe that she possesses what it takes to move district 2 forward and, in the process, that will be helping to move the city forward. She is not about “business as usual” and that “good old boys” style of politics. People need to give her a chance. It has only been a week since her swearing in and already she is working on bringing about change in our district.


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