Friday, July 6, 2007
He May Have Stepped In It This Time
Ballyhooed by many as much to do about nothing, the latest Ravenstahl Golfgate gaffe may have dirtied the mayor’s boots more than his supporters and apologists would care to admit.
Forget the fact that he’s incurred the wrath of hundreds of scornful women. Let’s also overlook for the moment that he keeps lying about stuff. Stupid stuff. What might be the mayor’s undoing in this particular blunder is a little matter of $9,000, the appearance of impropriety if not the real thing, a few ethics violations thrown in here and there, and possibly even a little trip down the hall to see Sister Patrice Hughes.
“That definitely is a sticky situation,” Sister Patrice said when she learned of the $9,000 golf benefit gift the mayor received from UPMC. Sister Patrice is the chair of the city’s newly revived Ethics Hearing Board.
Luke continues to insist that the golf event was a charity fundraiser even though he initially lied about his attendance, was not one of the “celebrities” raising the funds, nor was he one of the “charitable” persons giving the funds. Ravenstahl also contends there are no dots connecting UPMC’s prior contributions to his mayoral campaign, this latest UPMC $9,000 golfing gift, $5 million of renewed UPMC contracts with the city, and the City Planning Commission’s sudden reversal of their previous decision to disallow large “UPMC” neon signs atop the U.S. Steel Building.
Acting City Controller Anthony Pokora says Ravenstahl should be allowed to accept pricey gifts like the golf outing because the mayor doesn’t make enough to be able to pay for those things himself. (Head shake here) Others don’t quite know what to make of that sentiment.
Legal Experts: Free rounds of golf might violate the city’s code of conduct.
Marvin Fein, deputy city solicitor for Mayor Caliguiri: “I think it probably violates the spirit of the [city’s code of conduct]. It’s a giant gift from a giant interested party.”
Post Gazette Editorial Board: “None of this sounds very good.”
Ravenstahl apparently thinks otherwise. After the Tribune-Review broke the story of his “charitable” golf outing, he promptly accused the newspaper of “Yellow Journalism”, has refused to speak to them since, and has made vacation plans for next week. Maybe he thinks if he leaves town for a while, things will quiet down. Maybe he’s right.
A word of advice to Master Luke: Go someplace quiet. Lay off the golf for a while. Don’t let any “interested parties" pay for your room or your entertainment. And for goodness sakes, don’t fly Burkle Air.