This Buzzfeedish wrap-up is a good look at the Luke Era, with lots of instances of Undermayor Zober faithfully and skillfully applying the lipstick, rouge, mascara, concealer and botox.
I’d like to juxtapose two bits:
“He is an amazing risk-taker, and in politics, that’s pretty hard to come by,” says Zober. Exhibit A: The public announcement of The Pittsburgh Promise at a time when no funding was available for it. “When Superintendent Roosevelt and Mayor Ravenstahl stood up and announced it together as this great dream, The Pittsburgh Promise, many mocked it … [Ravenstahl and Roosevelt] knew that in order to make that happen, you had to discuss it publicly.” (PghMag; Rich Lord)
Ravenstahl, notes Zober, “became mayor and the following year had to run for office. There were people in council who wanted that office.” (ibid)
The two are related. Ravenstahl announced the Promise as a solid reality with much fanfare before it was ready, in order to give voters something with which to identify and for which to adore our new Mayor prior to a special election.
That decision led to desperation in identifying funding, which led to UPMC dominating the Promise by entering into certain understandings with the City, which led to both political animosity over proposed tax-credits and the spoiling of negotiations with non-profits over PILOTs to this day.
A Lesson 9 could simply read, “Do Not Mix Politics and Governing,” but I suppose Rich does not want to sound like he just fell off the turnip truck.
Related to this:
“You can’t just run over the hill to the store and get a carton of milk,” the new mayor, then 26, told me. “I’m a lot more recognizable, and that’s probably what’s been the hardest.” (ibid)
“He had to ask himself many times, ‘Is this something I’m willing to do?’” says Zober. “This was not a position he had anticipated taking on, particularly not in such an early stage [of] his political career, and [of] his life.” (ibid)
We continue to read this sort of thing. He never sought the office, we are told, and was deeply uncomfortable with the recognition it brought.
He merely ran for City Council at age 23, accepted being put forward as its President, plastered his face on everything he could find as Mayor, energetically sought reelection at every opportunity, and was notorious about chasing celebrities, patronizing VIP lounges and starring in movies.
I suppose he can be complex and contain multitudes. So Lesson 10: Do not be ambivalent. If you want run a major city, your heart and soul had better be 100% energized by the job itself, like some sort of public affairs geek: negotiating with community groups and stakeholders, overseeing departments and demanding the most out of them, doing research and reevaluating your preconceptions. Because the perks alone and the pride of seeing monuments rise during your tenure don’t remotely justify the hassle.