Mayor Tom Murphy, whom some call “the Mad Mayor,” ruled Pittsburgh for twelve years — until he became so unpopular he could not run again.
Mayor Bob O’Connor succeeded him with fresh energy and optimism, but ran the City just half a year before abruptly terminating a City Hall power arrangement from what would become his deathbed. Pittsburgh took this maneuver, and a seeming embrace of Council President Ravenstahl, to signify Mayor O’Connor’s dying wishes for a term of office under served… and Luke Ravenstahl assumed the Mayoralty of that government.
Mayor Ravenstahl, buoyed by accolades and civic investment, is fighting to win his second full term and is calling attention to the South Side Market House and Phase 2 of its renovations. On What’s the 412? and elsewhere, we are assured that the deal the City is getting with Buncher Co. in the Strip District will lead to thriving growth and comply with the letter and the arc of the Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan almost 100%. Prestige and distinction are once again heaped on that Jewel of Larimer, Bakery Square — but the talent show at Google’s offices had to make do without the guest of honor. It has been a little while since Mayor Ravenstahl hit us over the head with the Promise.
Police Chief Nate Harper has been shown the door by the Mayor for setting up the framework of a business with his subordinates, for allowing money to be misappropriated, and for whatever Ravenstahl learned after two hours of questioning by federal authorities.
It is revealed that debit cards were linked to misappropriated funds, and that some of these were given to the Mayor’s security but allegedly without the Mayor’s knowledge. An ex-bodyguard publicly accuses the Mayor of being in on the impropriety, and gets smeared. In a discussion of the cost of overtime pay for bodyguards, a sensational photo is aired. Although the Mayor uses his own legitimate and accounted-for City card for travel and special expenses, it is revealed he routinely uses it to pay for others even though he was strictly instructed against it. Many crave more supervision to increase police performance.
|The Pgh Channel, NBC|
Controller and mayoral contender Michael Lamb is fresh off a field day. He suggested that the intermingling of city receipts and private side-job compensation created the potential for fraud and laid the blame with “the Finance Department” and the “Office of Management and Budget” for passing along budgets stuffed for pilferage. The wear of criticism for his own negligence has if anything spurred him to create an anonymous city “Fraud Hotline”: 412-255-4777. He has demanded of the Mayor answers to a series of succinct questions, and stuck a political flag solidly in Greenfield.
In the East we hear calls to enforce the city’s lost and stolen gun ordinance and concerns that compliance with oversight extend fully to campaign finance law. Councilman and mayoral contender Bill Peduto wants to put GPS chips in snowplows to step up the War on Snow, and communicators in traffic lights to reduce travel time, fuel emissions, and worker hours spent at traffic lights.
People for Peduto tweeted out a headline and a link to a story favorable to the Controller’s press conference. He is on record as having recommended early on that Chief Harper take a leave of absence, and connecting metaphorical Ravenstahl dots at Public Safety, at the URA and at PWSA to illustrate a pattern.
Peduto and Lamb both ran for mayor in 2005. Lamb drew some of his support from Mayor Murphy’s cadre. Peduto finished in second place to O’Connor. Peduto considered running against Ravenstahl in the special election held in 2007 but withdrew, drawing public fire. Lamb opted to run instead for City Controller in ’07. Both men yielded to other Democratic challengers in 2009.
Has anyone noticed all these closed schools? Not just Reizenstein making way for Bakery Square 2.0, and not just Schenley with its spirit and legacy, but everywhere — really everywhere. What to do with all the buildings? And people seem miffed about public transportation, badly enough to oust a Port Authority CEO. There will be incentives for regional transit consolidation at play, whatever crises or opportunity that may present. Alcosan has urged the EPA to give us an extension to begin considering source-control or “green” wet weather infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is famous in Marcellus Country for having instituted a ban on natural gas drilling which its mayor does not like. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald signed on to a $500 million, 20 year deal with Consol Energy to drill for fossil fuel from Pittsburgh International Airport. A coal burning power plant in Muskingum River Ohio is converting to natural gas at the EPA’s blessing. And in Chester WV, former local URA Director Pat Ford is touting on behalf of a regional economic development corporation the “campus setting” of a purchased, demolished and environmentally remediated pottery plant site for lease to prospects in the oil & gas industry. All while advancing projects from Weirton to Beech Bottom.
The strategy is the strategy. Nothing important has changed. The night is dark, and full of terrors. Election Day is May 21st. Click the video above and review this post from top to bottom. Here is the elections calendar.