Wednesday, October 31, 2007
One waitress and eleven patrons were polled at Billy’s Bistro on Lowrie St in Troy Hill. Only eight of the twelve were city residents, however. The four non-city patrons lived in nearby Reserve Township. Of the 8 Troy Hill residents, 3 were voting for Ravenstahl (38%), 2 for DeSantis (25%), 2 were undecided (25%), and 1 never votes for anyone and plans to not vote for anyone this time around also (13%).
Of the 4 who lived in Reserve, 3 would have voted for Ravenstahl if they could have (75%), 1 was firmly in the DeSantis camp (25%).
I had the house specialty, by the way. The Black Diamond Steak was very tasty and I’d recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in the neighborhood.
- Female 1: 30-ish, Republican. Reason for vote: “I just like Luke. He’s young and I like the changes he’s made. I had the opportunity to meet him and I liked what I saw. He has fresh ideas and I’d like for him to continue the changes he’s started.”
- Male Friend of Female 1: 40-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I want him to be able to continue doing what he’s doing now.”
- Fairly Drunk Male: 60-ish, Independent. Reason for vote: “Let me tell you … I hate Democrats. And I also hate Luke’s dad. Be sure to say that I really hate Luke’s dad. But I’m going to be voting for Luke. I think we need to give this boy a chance. Let’s see what he can do. Make sure you remember that I hate Democrats. I really do. Besides, I think DeSantis might be gay. He’s not married, you know.”
- Man Sitting Next To Fairly Drunk Male. 50-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I think a little bit of intellect would be nice for a change.” Fairly Drunk Male warned that a DeSantis victory would be a catastrophe; it would turn things upside-down. “Maybe that’s what we need,” said Man Sitting Next To FDM. “Maybe we need things turned upside-down.”
- Friend Of Man Sitting Next To Fairly Drunk Male. 50-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “DeSantis is the smarter man. That would be nice for a change.”
- Couple. Both 30-ish, Both Democrats. Both had not made up their minds yet.
Will Not Vote:
- Waitress. 30-ish, Not Registered Anything. Reason for non-vote: “I never pay attention to politics and I never vote for anyone. But I tell you this, if I were voting this time, I would not vote for Luke. He comes in here from time to time and he always leaves a horrible tip. He was in here the other day with some people from the city and some girls. They drank and ate and the bill came to $88 but he only left a $4 tip. No, if I were voting this time, it wouldn’t be for him.”
Monday, October 29, 2007
Twelve volunteer workers were polled at an East Liberty Presbyterian Church soup kitchen this morning. Of the 12 polled, 9 Democrats were voting for DeSantis (75%) and 3 Republicans were voting for Ravenstahl (25%). Which begs the question: Who is the real ‘Lil Bush’ anyway?
- Volunteer 1: 60-ish Female, Republican. Reason for vote: “I think Bush is a very intelligent man and Luke is intelligent also.”
- Volunteer 2: 20-ish Female, Republican. Reason for vote: “Luke is very intelligent. He got good grades in college.”
- Volunteer 3: 20-ish Female, Republican. Reason for vote: “Luke is young and will take us in a good direction.”
- Volunteer 4: 50-ish Male, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke is just plain stupid. That boy is going down!”
- Volunteer 5: 50-ish Female, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke is immature and too young.”
- Volunteer 6: 40-ish Male, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I agree. Luke is too young.”
- Volunteer 7: 20-ish Female, Democrat. Reason for vote: “[Luke’s] stupid!”
- Volunteer 8: 30-ish Female, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke is dishonest. He lied about the SUV and that was the final blow for me.”
- Volunteer 9: 30-ish Female, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke would ruin Pittsburgh.”
- Volunteer 10: 40-ish Male, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I hate [Luke]!”
- Volunteer 11: 50-ish Female, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke is a horse’s ass!”
- Volunteer 12: 30-ish Male, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke is a f*cker.”
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The Pist-Gazette decided to venture deep into Ravenstahl-Motznik country this evening. An occasion to dine at the Moonlight Café (and Bar) in Brookline turned into the perfect opportunity to spot sample opinions and views from the locals regarding the Nov. 6 mayoral election.
I must say, I’m stunned. Practically stupefied. I expected near universal support for our Boy Mayor in this hotbed of public works, firefighters and Motz Man constituents.
Instead, out of 13 people “polled”, 5 said they were voting for Ravenstahl, 6 (!!!) were voting for DeSantis, and 2 said they were so disgusted they were staying home. Luke gets 5 out of 13! That's a whopping 38% for Luke IN BROOKLINE!!!
(Ms. Pist needs a moment to compose herself before she is able to move on to the details)
Okay, the details …..
- Busboy: Young, 20’s, Democrat. Reason for vote: "Because [Ravenstahl] is young and has that fresh look.”
- Man at Bar: Young, 20’s, Democrat. Reason for vote: Ravenstahl is a personal friend.
- Man at Bar’s Friend: Young, 20’s, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I like [Ravenstahl’s] views better. Except I don’t know too much about DeSantis.”
- 3rd Man at Bar: Young, 20’s, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke is a good mayor. He gets around a lot. I was just at a party last night where he was at.” (These are honest-to-goodness quotes.)
- 4th Man at Bar: Young, 20’s, Democrat, Marine 3 times in Iraq. Reason for vote: “I want a Democrat no matter what.”
- Waitress: Older, 50’s, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Because I haven’t liked the last couple of things he’s done. The car was the last straw.”
- Man at Bar: Older, 50’s, Democrat, has a son in Iraq. Reason for vote: Democrats need change, the city is being run into the ground, we need a sensible man to take charge, golf, golf, SUV.
- Female Friend of Man at Bar: Older, 50’s, Democrat. Reason for vote: She agreed with everything Man at Bar said, but eagerly added she couldn’t wait to vote for DeSantis.
- 2nd Man at Bar: Young, 20’s, Democrat, wearing a Roethlisberger jersey. Reason for vote: “Luke is an idiot.”
- Cousin of 2nd Man at Bar: Young, 20’s, Democrat, just back from Iraq. Reason for vote: "I can't think of one reason to vote for Ravenstahl. I will have to vote for DeSantis.”
- Woman at Bar: Early 30’s, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke can’t tell the truth. If you're going to do something, then just do it. But don’t lie about it. And when you go to a concert, you should take your own car.”
Those Staying Home
- Young Couple at Bar: Both 20’s, Democrats. Reason for not voting: "We're done voting for politicians. No matter who it is, they’re all on the take. It’s all just a scam.”
My God, this is Brookline? I hate to say it. I hate to mouth the words so as to maybe jinx a miracle in the making. But maybe Luke is deeper in his own shit than any of us ever thought.
Ms. Pist will be “polling” at other locales throughout the city before election day. It would be enlightening and maybe even entertaining if other bloggers did the same.
What Does It Take To Bring Left And Right Together? The Horrifying Possibility Of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
Has the world come to an end? Has hell frozen over? No, not exactly, but close to it. Both the Democratic-leaning Post-Gazette (link) and the Republican-inclined Trib-Review (link) have endorsed Republican underdog Mark DeSantis for mayor of Pittsburgh.
Prior to 9/11, many used to wonder what it would take to unify our country. Voices for the Left and Right had moved so far away from each other, it seemed they could no longer agree whether or not the sky was blue, whether or not the Earth was round. Then came 9/11 and with it a stark albeit brief realization that worse people exist in the world than the opposite party they had vowed to destroy.
Councilman Luke Ravenstahl’s ascendance to the mayoral throne was Pittsburgh’s very own 9/11. Both our major newspapers get it. Both stand united in realizing the horrific implications of an out-of-control Frat Boy running the city as it circles the event horizon of a black hole called ‘bankruptcy’.
The question is, will Mr.& Mrs. Average Pittsburgher get it? Will the myopic government worker who doesn’t understand his very job depends on tax dollars from the private sector get it? Will the mindless voter who gets ‘handed the slate’ be able to muster the wits to rebel against his own DNA corrupted by generations of same-party inbreeding? Will the unions finally understand that there is not one drop of blood left in any Pittsburgh turnips? Even if there was, will they finally admit the turnip-blood will never come from a boy speeding around town in his Batmobile, chasing after celebrities whilst admiring his own reflection?
Unfortunately, the answer to all of the above is probably ‘no’. Ms. Pist believes we Pittsburghers are for the most part hopeless, hapless and clueless. Ms. Pist believes Ravenstahl will win the election and Pittsburgh will continue on the path to its own demise. I guess it’s just what Darwin referred to as 'the process of natural selection’.
Huge thanks to the Post-Gazette and the Trib for standing up and doing what’s right. Mega-Super-Kudos especially to the Post-Gazette who has risked paying subscriptions from the mindless and the myopic. They have instead chosen to retain their journalistic and editorial sanity and integrity, and for this they will have my eternal respect.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Kapow! The FOP endorsed Republican Mark DeSantis this afternoon in his bid for mayor of Pittsburgh.
Kablam! They rubbed salt into the wound by comparing *DeSantis* to the much-loved, late Mayor Bob O’Connor:
"We see a lot of the same things in him that we saw in (late Mayor) Bob O'Connor,” said Union Secretary Chuck Hanlon.
Maybe, just maybe the stupor-villian Frat Boy will be run out of Gotham City after all!
Monday, October 15, 2007
“It’s art!” “It’s science!” “It’s wonderful!”
Let’s take a quick pop quiz. Which of the following qualifies as art and/or science?
A. The nearly complete skin of a human being, sliced open and laid flat on a table with the face attached. Much like a Blow-up Judy Doll that has been deflated.
B. A skeleton and a fully de-boned person left with only his muscles, both holding hands, leaning backwards frozen in a kind of do-si-do square dance pose.
C. A “Plastinated Petting Zoo” of sorts. Various plastinated organs on display for visitors to handle and touch.
D. A skinned, flayed dead person, posed sitting a la “The Thinker”, skull cracked open and brain popping out. (No doubt the result of all that hard thinking.)
If you’ve answered “Art”, congratulations! You are in the company of that esteemed artist and mass-murderer, Jeffrey Dahmer who temporarily housed skulls, genitalia and other fine objects d’art in his freezer.
If you’ve answered “Science”, you have a keen mind like Josef Mengele and other famed Nazi anatomists.
If you’ve answered “Neither”, then you agree with Ms. Pist who believes cadaver experimentation by medical students and researchers is genuine and valuable science. Throngs of morbidly curious freak-show patrons paying plenty to gawk at dead bodies posed doing things no respectable dead person would be caught dead doing ….. that is not science.
Art? Auguste Rodin’s “Le Penseur” (The Thinker) is an unquestionably superb, world-renown piece of bronze and marble sculpture. Propping up a dead guy in a similar pose with a cracked skull and exposed brain …… that is not art. It’s either desecration of the dead or, at a minimum, some violation of intellectual copyright laws.
Much has been made of the questionable sources of these “Bodies” including this blog. But on the subject of honor and respect for the humanity of the dead and what it says about a civilization when this civilized principle is abandoned ……. No more poignant words have been written on the abomination called “Bodies” than those of Rabbi Daniel Schiff.
Rabbi Daniel Schiff of Temple B’nai Isreal in White Oak is also the community scholar at the Agency for Jewish Learning in Squirrel Hill and a member of the City of Pittsburgh’s Ethics Board.
Of all the many inaccuracies contained in the New York Times article about pitiful Luke being “hounded” by the press ….. The Times has admitted to making two. Sort of. One they blame on “misstatements” Ravenstahl made himself.
Well, two out of fifty or so isn’t so swell, but it’s a start.
The Post-Gazette’s Brian O’Neill reminds us that Rep. Mark Mustio (Moon) will hold a press conference today hoping to shame his fellow legislators to “put up or shut up.”
In response to the public outrage over the “Midnight Pay Raises”, many state senators and representatives have touted various government reform initiatives in an attempt to convince their constituents that they have seen the light. Shrinking the size of the state legislature has topped the public’s wish list, forcing the General Assembly to at least pretend they’d address this important reform soon. In that regard, a bill was introduced to shrink the House from 203 to 161 members and trim the Senate from 50 to 40. But considering much of the Assembly’s newfound zeal for reform is anything but earnest, the bill was shuttled over to the state government committee where it has been sitting “on ice” since January. The Assembly no doubt has been hoping it would languish there until hell freezes over or until the public’s ire passes, whichever comes first.
Mustio needs 102 House members to pass a “discharge resolution” which would free the government reduction bill from its current suspended animation status. Does that mean it would then come up for a vote? Not really. There would undoubtedly be other roadblocks for this bill which no one wants but everyone is too afraid to admit. Mustio is not deterred, however. He plans on taking the roadblocks on one at a time.
“I got elected to get some stuff done,” Mr. Mustio said, “not to make friends.”
With that, Mustio hopes to build public and media pressure by reading the names of the bill’s 33 co-sponsors, the names of the 50 freshman legislators who were elected primarily on the promise of reform, and the names of every other lawmaker who has ever claimed to support a smaller legislature. To date, only freshman Rep. Matt Smith of Mt. Lebanon has signed on to the discharge resolution.
By the way, Pennsylvania spends more per capita on their legislature than all other states with the exception of Alaska and Rhode Island. In 2005 our legislature cost each Pennsylvanian $23.86. In that same year, similar-sized states such as Ohio and Illinois spent $3.69 and $5.83 respectively.
If you have strong feelings one way or another about this issue ….. today might be a good time to let your state representatives know how you feel. Legislator look-ups with phone, fax and email contact information can be found here.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
I am one of the nerds in Pittsburgh who follows the cablecast City Council meetings religiously. Consistent viewing gives me a good understanding of what is going on in the city and, just as importantly, I get an invaluable insight as to just who you councilmen are and where your priorities and loyalties lie.
In this way I’ve come to view you as a smart and generally good guy. You are articulate (too much so?), you generally put the city’s best interest above your own and no one can dispute that you are one of the best "numbers” guys around. Which is why I am speechlessly flabbergasted about your participation in the Motznik Parking Tax Plan.
I know the city is between a rock and a hard spot. To be more precise, we have made all the obvious cuts we can and we have maximized all the revenues we can. While we may be above water now ....no matter what Luke Ravenstahl says, we won't be for long.
However, the operative word in the above paragraph is “obvious.” Yes, we have eagerly grasped on to every piece of low-hanging fruit in sight. Unfortunately our efforts seem to have ended there. None of our local leaders appear to possess the stomach or desire to tackle the really difficult items which MUST be confronted if the city is to survive.
Examples? City/County merger of departments, functions, etc. has supposedly been in the works for a couple of years now. There are millions of dollars in savings here but we’ve only scratched the surface because no one wants to let go of their personal turf and power base. It just never goes anywhere because there is simply no will for it.
The very profitable "non-profits" must pony up more. What they now pay is pitiful. I'm not talking about real non-profits like the Boy Scouts, etc. Do I believe, like DeSantis has implied, that UPMC et al would be more generous if they had more trust in the fiscal prudence of the city. DeSantis appears to have paved the way for greater non-profit contribution if those monies are put in a “lock box” to pay down our debt and/or shore up our under-funded pension plan. Why not be adults and forget about D vs R and just talk to the non-profits as DeSantis has done? Why not implement the DeSantis plan now because it is the right and NECESSARY thing to do?
Various people (I think basically you) talk about joining with the state in their pension/medical plan to save big money. Is there any progress in that direction or just more talk?
Oh yes, and there's a small thing like the firefighter contract that needs to be re-opened. I’m aware there’s a snowball’s chance of that happening. But looking at this from a purely non-political and adult perspective, why not? Doug, this is again something that HAS to happen. Someone is going to have to suck up their gut, roll up their sleeves and start swinging at this and other fruit that does not hang so low.
I know everything mentioned above is very difficult to achieve partly because one lone cowboy can't just pull out his six-shooter and do it by himself. Solutions to the problems above will entail huge sums of trust, cooperation, hard work and goodwill by MANY people. Many people will have to put the good of the city above shielding (no pun intended) their own turf. That is the difficulty level in a nutshell and the difficulty level is why no one wages the battle.
There is one last thing that I haven't mentioned because it’s the wall people keep banging their heads against. It’s the wall that doesn't give. It’s called “Harrisburg”. Going to "talk to", "confer with", "have a dialogue with" or just plain "beg" Harrisburg has not, is not, will not do any good. What good comes of whining about how Harrisburg “neglects us” all the while just banging our heads on that wall again and again? What good comes from putting the cart before the horse by flipping them the Motznik Tax Plan bird right before we go begging again?
I know none of this is a revelation to you, Doug. As I said at the onset, you are a bright guy. This is your world, your life and I'm just a blogging back-seat driver. But you know, Doug, all the political backstabbing and turf wars, WITHIN THE SAME PARTY NO LESS, has got to stop. You guys ..... all of you including the mayor who makes my blood boil daily ..... You all have to attack the big, hard, monstrous mountains together because the low-hanging fruit has been picked clean. You have to do this in concert, driven by what's best for the city and not what's best for the protection of the turf each person now has or the turf they aspire to in the future.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
PITTSBURGH, Pa, Probably sometime in the future -- “Bodies: The Exhibition” opened to throngs of enraptured crowds at the Carnegie Science Center on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. All the bodies in the exhibit have come from China, a world leader in the development of exciting and innovative new uses for plastics and polymers.
Opening day for the exhibit was set aside exclusively for children under 12 so they could overcome their fear of dead and dismembered bodies while simultaneously learning to appreciate death and disease as the art forms they really are. As enthused as all the little tots were, nothing could prepare them for the special surprise in store courtesy of the good folks at the Science Center.
“We are very pleased to announce the addition of a new Jewish Holocaust section to the exhibit,” said Science Center spokesperson Margaret Flauster. “While all of the bodies in ‘Bodies’ are exquisite specimens, we nonetheless felt a responsibility to be more inclusive by incorporating bodies from other parts of the world as well.”
Squeals of delight could be heard from kids and parents as they perused the Jewish section. An immediate favorite was the pile of severed heads. Docents explained that the intent of the pile was to give form to the concept of “the collective consciousness.”
Not as popular but also drawing a respectable crowd of onlookers was the table of tattooed skins, human skin lampshades, and bars of soap made from human fat. The artistic message here was how useful each and every one of us can and should be to each other.
A two-headed baby was also included in the bonus section but seemed a bit out-of-place with the other pieces. Ms. Flauster admitted that the baby was not Jewish and was not even that old. “We thought it looked kinda cool, so we decided to include it in this section anyway.”
The Carnegie Science Center wishes to remind all its patrons that all the bodies and body parts have been treated with the utmost of respect. While they expect to rake in revenues like never before, they insist the education, enlightenment and enrichment of Pittsburgh …. especially the children of Pittsburgh …. is what inspired them in this amazing endeavor.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
All and all, the evening was ….. okay.
Both Luke and DeSantis did well in general. To my eye and ear, neither screwed up, neither hit the ball out of the park. Both came across pretty much as who they were. There were (dare I say the word?) policy differences between the two and these came across fairly clear as well.
Did any candidate win over any voters tonight? In my opinion, no. Did any candidate blow it and lose votes tonight? Again, I think not.
But it wasn’t all milk-toast and bland. DeSantis got big applause when he said, “Youth does not equal incompetence, but it’s not an excuse either.” And, “People in the neighborhoods need to be heard. If you call a meeting, you have to show up.”
The clap-meter shot up when Luke was asked 'What is the single most important thing to improve Pittsburgh’s image?' He answered, “Elect a 27-yr-old mayor.” He also struck a chord with the audience when he spoke disapprovingly about privatization of government services.
Even the PG editorial board received kudos from the crowd by asking Luke what he would say to those people who are critical of his intentions to “continue to do what 27-yr-olds do.” No surprise, Tony Norman got a round of applause just for being Tony Norman.
But the night did not conclude without its share of surprises. The Socialist candidate, Ryan Scott, cornered the market on all of them. He left the planet early on and continued his journey into deep space at an impressive Warp 10 speed. Some of Mr. Scott’s disjointed thoughts on various issues, whether or not they had anything to do with being the mayor of Pittsburgh:
o He supports the rights of all countries to develop nuclear energy.
o Even though no one in the room quite understood why, it seems the Jena Six has something to do with his credentials to be mayor, why a young mayor (he is 24) is a good thing, and shrinking the size of City Council to correspond with the shrinking population.
o His campaign was in harmony with nature.
o “Crimes and devastation against the planet” was the single most important thing to improve Pittsburgh’s image. (???)
o Cops bring violence into the neighborhoods. He wants no more cops on the streets.
o There will be no true education until Capitalism is overthrown.
For a PG podcast of the 90-minute debate in its entirety, go here.
Was He At Steelers Game?
Marty Griffin reported this morning that one day after the New York Times article about Pittsburgh media hounding our beleaguered young mayor, un-friggin-believably Luke Ravenstahl was a “no show” at the Annual ICMA (International City/County Management Association) Conference in Seven Springs. Ravenstahl was scheduled to give opening comments to 4,000 national and international government movers-and-shakers on October 7th. Instead Luke blew them off at the last minute, leaving them high and dry, not offering anyone from his office as a replacement. Event organizers were so outraged by this pathetic insult from the City of Pittsburgh, they have vowed never again to invite Allegheny County officials to speak because it appears we just cannot be trusted to show up.
Marty Griffin emailed the mayor’s office this morning asking for an explanation to his latest outrageous behavior, his latest embarrassment to our city. No response thus far from the mayor or any of his ultra-cool spokespeople.
Where was Luke on Sunday at 3PM? No one knows for sure YET, but there was a Steeler game at that precise time. Certainly he could not have blown off yet another high-profile, important event just to attend yet another football game. After all, he vowed to the New York Times that he would not attend any more Steeler games until after the election because 'he wouldn’t be able to enjoy the game, being hounded by the press ‘n at.'
Ravenstahl’s preference for drinking, partying and carousing over the boring day-to-day duties of running the city is nothing new. In fact, his juvenile behavior has shown its ugly face since the moment he took office. Marty spoke of a trip Luke took to Washington D.C. when he first became mayor. Upon arriving, the first thing Luke wanted to do was go out and party. Some of the officers in his security detail told him this might not be such a good idea. They suggested he focus on politics instead. Coincidentally, the officers who gave him that common sense advice are no longer on the mayor’s detail today.
This is the “fresh government” offered up by the Ravenstahl administration. God help us all.
UPDATE: An angry Luke Ravenstahl called Marty's show to deny that he blew off the ICMA. He says his secretary emailed them a month before the event, telling them he had a conflicting engagement and would not be able to speak. Luke insists he has the email his office sent to ICMA and would forward it to Marty.
Marty asked Luke directly if he was at the Steelers game instead. Luke very directly replied, "No I was not."
Luke was angry. He confirmed there was a "pattern at work" but the pattern was that of the media who continues to spread lies and half-truths about him. He told Marty he would be patiently wating for an apology from John Delano (who originally spoke to ICMA), officials at ICMA and Marty Griffin himself.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Not finding much sympathy here at home, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has taken his whining all the way to the Big Apple. According to Luke and the New York Times, in the year he’s been mayor he kept the Penguins from leaving, balanced the budget for a second consecutive year, kept crime low and persuaded two developers to take on troublesome Fifth & Forbes.
And how has the city repaid this Wonder Boy? We’ve hounded him. We’ve disrespected him. We’ve nipped relentlessly at his tail driving him to become a Diet Pepsi junkie with a 12-can a day habit. His nerves are so frayed, bottle caps are piling up on the floor of his car faster than BBQ sauce and charcoal briquettes on a hot summer’s night at a Toby Keith concert.
Paranoid and convinced the media is out to get him, Ravenstahl nonetheless has retained the presence of mind to seek advice from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on matters of great importance.
And how does the Boy Who Would Be King plan to turn the situation around?
“I just can’t enjoy the [Steelers] game when I know I’m going to get hounded by the press the whole time,” lamented Ravenstahl, eyes downcast, lip quivering.
He therefore has taken to his couch, now forced to watch the games, at home, alone, just he and his wife.
Heartbreaking. Simply heartbreaking.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Delano says his various sources have reported to him that the GMC Yukon in question was one of four delivered to the Pittsburgh Police Department as part of a Homeland Security grant. From the moment the SUVs were delivered, Chief Harper said they would be great back-up vehicles for the mayor. Sgt Mona Wallace, who applied for the grant in the first place, immediately explained to Harper that the vehicles could not be used in that manner. She explained the vehicles were paid for with federal monies and therefore had specific use restrictions per grant guidelines.
Harper therefore knew of the usage restrictions from day one, but the black Yukon was nonetheless handed out to Mayor Ravenstahl on various occasions from day one. Those occasions were purportedly the US Open (when UPMC paid for the mayor’s $9000 entry fee), possibly the Mario Lemieux Golf Tournament (where Luke stalked Tiger Woods), the Toby Keith concert at the Post-Gazette Pavilion as well as others. Other occasions, oddly enough, where Chief of Staff Yarone Zober was a passenger in the Yukon. The same Yarone Zober who witnessed the Homeland Security grant in March 2006.
Sgt. Wallace sent many emails up the chain of command warning her superiors that the mayor’s repeated joyrides constituted misuse of grant funds. All her emails were ignored and the last straw for Sgt. Wallace came when the Yukon was returned from the Toby Keith shindig with BBQ stains and charcoal briquette remnants.
It was then Sgt Wallace broke the chain of command by emailing Public Safety Director Michael Huss who subsequently told Chief Harper to “take care of it.” Maybe Harper misunderstood what Huss meant by those words, or maybe not. In any event, Sgt Wallace was written up to be disciplined at that point.
Not sitting still at the prospect of being railroaded, Wallace hired an attorney and was within 24 hours of filing a suit, when lucky for Pittsburgh taxpayers, Director Huss reversed the disciplinary action.
So Chief Nate Harper was aware of the vehicle misuse. Yarone Zober was aware of the vehicle misuse. Maybe we have another round of departmental purgings and a national replacement search on the horizon.
During an October 3rd interview, Chief Nate Harper insisted that no rules were broken when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl used a Homeland Security SUV to take he, his wife and friends to a Toby Keith concert.
“These vehicles were purchased, yes, though Homeland Security, but they aren’t specifically always 100% used for homeland security. For example, they are assigned to the Intel Unit, they never have been reassigned to any other entity within the city, therefore, when the Intel detectives do go out for other investigations they utilized those same vehicles. They don’t switch vehicles and say ‘Oh, wait I can’t use this vehicle because its not pertaining to Homeland Security.’ Those vehicles have always been assigned there and if……For example, we have a homicide, and I have no vehicles for those homicide detectives to get out to the scene in it, those detectives will utilize those vehicles that are available.”
Thank you Chief Harper for clarifying appropriate alternative usage of the GMC Yukon in instances such as homicide investigations. But what about Toby Keith concerts for the mayor? Does the grant insist that the Homeland Security SUV be used 100% of the time for Homeland Security purposes? Does it allow usage for other “official business”? If so, might that be a Toby Keith concert? The Post Gazette tried to ascertain the answer to those very questions but the mayor’s office would not release the grant documents, saying they were “for official use only”. Much like the Yukon, no doubt.
The young mayor admits he’s used the Yukon for personal trips such as going to see his mom and dad or going to bars with his wife and friends. But that was before he realized the vehicle was purchased with federal funds. As soon as he was made aware of its Homeland Security status, the mayor quit using the vehicle.
And when was that? “It was brought to my attention within the time frame it was brought to my attention” the mayor responded.
Asked to clarify that answer the mayor said, “The word got to me whenever the word got to me.”
Nonetheless, Chief Harper seems to think no wrongdoing occurred in the first place because the vehicle has been regularly used for other purposes anyway.
“These vehicles are purchased, yes, through Homeland Security, but they aren’t specifically 100 percent always used for Homeland Security,” Harper said. He went on to say that he’s looked at the details of the grant and insists “other” usage of the Yukon is allowable.
So will the mayor continue to bar-hop and attend concerts in the big, bad Intel vehicle? Chief Harper has apparently mastered the art of the non-answer answer:
“It will be used 99% of the time ….. Its permanently assigned to the Intel unit. That is part of the contract, contractual agreement with Homeland Security. It never was intended to be reassigned to any other entity within the Pittsburgh Police Bureau. Therefore as I stated, if for example we’re in an emergency situation where we need to get to a scene or we need to deploy some officers, and its not a Homeland Security event, are you saying that then I should let those vehicles sit, not utilize them, indeed officers stand by to wait for a vehicle to come back in? We aren’t going to do that. We’re going to respond to emergencies as needed with any vehicle that we have within the Pittsburgh Police Bureau.”
Well, glad that’s cleared up. Glad and reassured to know the next time the mayor has a Toby Keith concert emergency, or an acute need to belt down the brewskis with staff and friends…..there will be a brand new, fully loaded, Homeland Security Intel vehicle to whisk him right to the scene.
The Pist-Gazette is certain Mary Beth Buchanan will see this in just the same way.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
In his own words:
"But at the end of the day, I'm still going to continue to be who I'm going to be, and go to concerts like I always have, and go to have a drink with my wife in bars. That's what 27-year-olds do and I shouldn't be any different . . . I'm not going to change my life to appease the media or appease somebody who wants me to be somebody I'm not. I think the fact that I'm 27 is something the city should embrace and it's something that I've embraced.”
What he neglected to add is that he’s a handsome, buff hunk who enjoys his cigars and his nights out on the town with his soon-to-be mover-and-shaker friends and a posse of taxpayer bodyguards in tow. Of course the youngest, coolest mayor ever is entitled to the baddest pimped ride on the city’s lot.
Fortunately, all of this has not been lost on his new, hip Press Secretary who thinks the mayor “is as nice a person as he is handsome!” Nor her husband, Our Hero and the city’s Development Czar, who “looooooooves Luke and all the lovely women who work with Luke.” (Please refer to cached versions of “Love of Chair” for complete details)
Yes, Luke and his young posse are positioned to “move this city forward” to heights we’ve only dreamed of. If only we jealous, petty citizens would embrace this young man, his vision and his star qualities.
Well, the rest of us better get on board! This is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Party Town! Our bridges may be falling down, our sewers exploding, our taxes out the wazoo and bankruptcy looming …… But we’ve got ourselves a 27 year old mayor!
Wa-hoooooo! I’m psyched, aren’t you?
Homeland Security SUV Just The Latest Example
His weaving, bobbing, fluttering eyelids and/or lack of direct eye contact when being interviewed are usually all the clues that are needed for one to know when the mayor is lying. But what about those times when he’s interviewed off-camera? Without body language clues to guide us, how can we tell if the mayor is scamming us once again?
Aside from the fact that when Ravenstahl speaks, it usually is a lie ……Still, there are some very simple ways to immediately tell when the boy is dishing out the bull:
If the mayor says he’s “not aware” or “unaware”, that usually means just the opposite:
- Joyriding in Homeland Security SUVs: “Mr. Ravenstahl said he was not aware that the [GMC Yukon] was paid for with federal Homeland Security funds when he was using it for things like business travel to Harrisburg and for his personal use, including a Toby Keith concert in August.”
- Missing the Casino Hearing: “Mr. Ravenstahl said last night that the trip was planned months ago, and until a staff member notified him of the fervor at the meeting Tuesday night, he was unaware the mailer indicated he would be present.”
- Promoting Wife-Beating Cops: “With regard to Charles Rodriguez and Eugene F. Hlavac, as I have said, I was unaware of there being any issues in their background prior to public reports last week.”
If the mayor says he “never intended” or it was “never his intention” to do something, you can bet that was his plan from day one:
- Increasing His Staff While Denying It Will Increase His Budget: "This is just a reorganization," the mayor said. "I want to stress that there is no intention of increasing the mayor's office budget. This will not do that."
- Crashing Tiger Woods: "Once I found that out, and once I was invited, certainly I accepted. But I did not go out there knowing that American Express had the opportunity to go with him that afternoon. That was never my intention. My intention was simply to say hello, welcome him, and spend, you, know, a minute or two with him."
- Blowing Off the North Side to Watch The Red Sox: The mayor’s office tells KDKA Ravenstahl never intended to attend the public meeting on the North Side and that the postcard asking residents to join him was an administrative mistake.
- Blowing Off Domestic Abuse Meeting to Play Golf: "I never intended to go," he said after speaking at a celebration in West Park for the pending redevelopment of the Garden Theater on the North Side.
When the mayor awkwardly inserts the word “myself” into any sentence, alarm bells should immediately go off:
- Hill District Inclusion in Arena Development: "Myself and the county executive have been meeting regularly with the organizations in the Hill District," he said. "We are going to continue to meet with them."
- The Need For Bodyguards When Partying Till 1AM: “There are times when if I do something personal at somebody's home, I'll go with my wife and myself," he said. But if he's out politicking, or grabbing dinner and drinks, he's accompanied.
- Explaining Heinz Field Drunk & Disorderly: "Myself and other individuals in the front were really not even in control of ourselves," he said. "We couldn't control ourselves because of the force from behind.”
And if the mayor doesn’t remember where he was, where or what he ate, where he slept or even how he got there…..
- Blowing off The Hill to Party With Burkle: "Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hopped a private jet to New York City to have dinner and drinks at a posh Manhattan hotel hours after announcing a $290 million deal to build a new Uptown arena for the Penguins." ..... "When asked about the evening, Ravenstahl said he did not know where he ate." .... "The mayor said he did not remember what part of town he spent the night."
Are we really going to hand this lying Frat Boy the keys to the city? Weren't the keys to the Yukon bad enough?