The headline reads: Bloggers open the floodgate on mayor.
Read it carefully and with a skeptical eye, unlike most of Pittsburgh is currently.
First of all, everyone who uses Twitter is a blogger? In that case, Luke Ravenstahl is a blogger, Bill Peduto is a blogger, Patrick Dowd is a blogger and Arlen Specter is a blogger.
The article makes it look as though the actual local political blogs are “opening floodgates” of criticism, reveling in the Mayor’s familial troubles — which is demonstrably and honestly not the case. Indeed, it is just a few of us that are bothering to criticize aspects of how the Mayor is handling things — which Maria does a fantastic job expressing — but we have all been tasteful and reserved as to the separation.
I should have written this sooner: for the three years I’ve been at this, the blogs I’ve read (and I read a lot of them) have shown a tremendous amount of restraint in not ever referencing “the rumors that are out there”. So have our commenters, honestly — more than once I’ve marveled at how our entire online community has kept it scrupulously dignified, despite many invitations to the contrary and despite our undeserved reputation as a cesspool. On those very rare occasions when an anonymous commenter has floated something sketchy about the Mayor or about Erin, the bloggers have almost always dutifully deleted the comments, scrubbing our spaces clean.
I’m proud to say that Pittsburgh blogs concern themselves with pensions and debt, with development and infrastructure, with personnel matters rather than personal matters, and at our very worst with dot-connecting insinuations about political corruption rather than personal misfortune. The way today’s article was framed (never mind that Sciullo piece), the Post-Gazette might as well cradle the Mayor in its loving arms during this trying ordeal for him.
And now, I will get this over with: rumors can be proven true, and rumors can be proven false; but rumors cannot be “proven to be just that — rumors”. That sounds like a nice last-ditch effort to sound as though one is denying a thing, when those who are paying close attention (perhaps too close) can hear clearly that one is denying nothing. Now, I’m not the Amazing Kreskin and I’m not Sherlock Holmes, but from the few facts we have been given, it sounds to me as though the split-up is very likely more his fault than — as his public story goes — her fault. The simplest explanation is usually best, after all.
And does that matter? Should I be writing about it? No and yes.
I’m one of those persons who believe marital drama does not matter in my politicians — unless persons with whom he or she deals in an official capacity become part of the drama. It would be inappropriate, for example, if Mayor Ravenstahl and Guy Costa were discovered to have been having a tryst. Aside from that, I happen to subscribe to Mr. Sprague’s advertised ideals on the issue. Yet I recognize that not everybody does, and that nobody has to — and I would not presume to lecture to those people that they’re obviously wrong. For the sake of the many who believe it is important, it is sadly an issue that merits some coverage and reflection by the media.
That is, it would — in a city that did not reside somewhere between Mayberry, Pleasantville and Pyongyang.
Most importantly, however, if my view is correct and there is some truth to the rumors, it is fully symptomatic of another issue the local blogs have long been covering — and with good cause. The jet-setting with billionaires instead of 8:30 AM meetings with residents. Commandeering a Homeland Security vehicle to go to a concert. The culture of cigars, scotch and expensive neckties given as offerings of respect. Brashly accepting tickets and admissions to high-dollar events. Setting up good friends with lucrative business deals and allowing them to elude public scrutiny. And the frequent counter-criticism, most often found through anonymous comments on the blogs, that those who are interested in advancing campaign finance reform and cleaning up government are only “jealous”, “want to be the ones doing it themselves”, are the “have-nots” and “wish they were the Mayor”.
This has never been so much a literal “pay-to-play” culture as a “play-to-be-a-player” culture. This has never been a Mayor that has been excellent at resisting temptation. That’s an undesirable quality in a leader, as we’ve seen many times before. This is probably just an indication that rumors of the Mayor’s growth on the job have been somewhat exaggerated, if not foisted forcibly upon us from on high.
There. I opened the sluice-gates for a moment, and now they are closed. I recommend it.