Saturday, September 02, 2006

Use the Force Luke

I think I can sum up the feelings of a lot of people in Pittsburgh when I say, "Wow. Will you look at this?"

I think I can sum up the feelings of Mr. Ravenstahl who is probably saying, "Oh Shit!”

Maybe he’s not saying that. I don’t know. I would be.

Congratulations Mr. Ravenstahl, you are the Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh.

This guy is twenty-six years old, and although he did grow up in a very political family, he still has only two and half years of experience as an elected official and this is a VERY politicized town. Every community development group, public service union and a thousand other coat tail riders are angling for a piece of a shrinking financial pie. If he doesn't get the right people around him this kid is going to get eaten alive.

How Luke Ravenstahl wound up being the City Council President - and thus in the succession for the top job – is a classic Pittsburgh political tale and a measure of how dysfunctional this City can be.

The City Council is largely neutered under the City’s Act 47 bankruptcy plan. Periodically they make noise about this issue or that outrage against the city unions, but with the ongoing restraints on the municipal budget, their influence is greatly diminished. Really, Council has no one but itself to blame for this predicament. Largely due to their deep political debts to the City’s unions, they were unable to make the difficult fiscal decisions that would have slashed the budget and avoided the bankruptcy. Then-Mayor Tom Murphy actually pulled the trigger and called in the State for oversight. Very few of them thought Murphy would actually do it and most of them have never forgiven him for it.

At any rate, the prior Council President, Gene Ricciardi was retiring to become a judge, leaving a vacancy in the top job. None of the more experienced people were able to pull it together for themselves. Motznick – Ricciardi’s chosen successor - couldn't get the votes. Tawanda Carlisle was facing some ethical problems. To my recollection, Peduto did not seek the position, having just lost to Bob O’Conner in the mayoral primary. In the end, it looked, to me at least, like they gave the job to the one guy who hadn't made enough enemies among his peers not to get elected; the new guy, Luke Ravenstahl.

And now, through a strange twist of fate, this kid is the Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh.

I guess stranger things have happened.


Anonymous l.smith said...

Will he get the Pens' a new arena, though? That is the question.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Unconscionable said...

No, the real question is, if the Pens left would anyone care?

9:06 PM  

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