What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 15, 2006

Nope, Mayor Opie (as John McIntire calls him) did not embarrass himself. He did just fine on Late Night with David Letterman last night.

But for me, the most telling exchange came when Dave said, "Forget Mayor. How does a 26 year-old become President of City Council?"

Much like some of the church domes in Pittsburgh, the answer to that is byzantine, but back to the show...

Mayor Opie declared that his age was inconsequential because he had the experience (You know, that whole entire two and half years in government. Then again when you're only 26, two and a half years does seem like an awfully long time.)

Then Dave asks Mayor Opie what were the things he did on City Council -- in his epic-length career -- that would have warranted him being chosen President.

So what was Mayor Opie's answer?

Let's just say he did his best to sidestep the question by saying that the very fact that he was chosen as President of City Council made him worthy to be President of City Council.

Uh-ha . . .

About a month ago, someone asked me what I thought of Luke Ravenstahl. I had to say that even after watching City Council meetings for about a year and a half, that I had no real idea what he actually thought about anything -- what his political philosophy is -- if he even had one. I added that as the conventional wisdom was that he was being groomed for higher office, it probably was not in his best interest to offer real opinions on anything that could be used against him later. I mean, why bother at this level? I said all he had to do at the council level was to appear capable and not really piss anyone off.

But, let's take a second to look at his record. Here's what stands out in my mind:
  • He was against Act 47 before he was for it (or at least against the Firefighters Union/Carlisle sponsored bid to end it now).

  • He voted against the bubble zone ordinance to protect women from abusive protests at clinics with no explanation (which in this town leads me to believe that he's anti choice until, and if, he states otherwise.)

  • When given a chance to really reform City Council spending, he opted to keep the walking around monies.

  • When asked, as Mayor, if he would match Bob O'Connor's pledge that women and minorities would make up half of his appointees, he stopped short of agreeing instead weaseling out of an answer.
  • Kinda makes this new kid on the block look like one more good old boy network politico, no?

    To quote McIntire again:
    "Why does a young man necessarily have fresh ideas? He could be a product of an old crowd of long time politicos, and be their pawn in the end. People are WAY to quick to assume that youth equals fresh OR QUALIFIED."

    You only have to listen to a group of Young College Republicans discussing their "ideas" to know that's the truth.

    My bad! Apparently there's been a "NICKNAME TRANSFORMATION - MAYOR OPIE TO MAYOR DOOGIE."

    I had the nagging suspicion when I originally wrote this that I had left something out. I did. Mayor Doogie also had to be pressured to reschedule the special election for Council District 3 last spring after Spring Break instead of during it. Council District 3 includes thousands of students who live in the Pitt Towers -- kids who are only a couple of years younger than he is. He finally changed the date the morning of a planned protest in Oakland. The original date was thought to favor the machine endorsed candidate.


    Judge Rufus Peckham said...

    I can tell you first hand I would be wary of retaining a 26-year old attorney by himself or herself to do many things. Why is mayor of Pittsburgh any different? And I don't like the fact that he's already announced he's running for his own term -- I suppose he did this to try to keep certain people out of the race. It is too soon for that.

    Maria said...

    It's hard for me to imagine that the 'threat' of Luke running would keep anyone out of the race.

    Judge Rufus Peckham said...

    That depends entirely on the identity of his backer, Maria. And I suspect there is someone with a lot of clout behind him (a phantom mayor that likely is advising this young man).

    Matt H said...

    There is no phantom Mayor running the show.

    Maria said...


    Hmmmm...Weren't you the one who was positive that there wouldn't be an election in 2007? That will be decided by the courts now...unless you have some sort of 'insider' info on how a case that hasn't come to court yet will be decided too?

    Jesus is a liberal said...

    Matt is right - there is no phantom mayor. There is a team of useless party hacks who take turns putting their hands up young Mayor Doogie ass in order for him to speak in semi-complete sentences.

    Unbelievable that this young idiot thinks people won't remember his giant power and celebrity grab instead of keeping Mayor Bob's legacy alive by insisting on a timely election.

    What is the will of the people? My guess is it wouldn't be Little Lukie for Mayor.

    Maria said...

    So you're saying it's not Mayor Opie, it's not Mayor Doogie, it's:


    (I've been mulling over that nickname for a while but certain, ahem, others at 2pj didn't seem to taken with it.

    Mark Rauterkus said...

    To be against the bubble law does NOT translate to being anti-choice. The bubble law legislation has some serious problems on their own. Constitutional problems.

    Let's not make up things so as to re-write history.

    However, points taken otherwise. I'm not too sure what Luke's about -- either. But count me out of the silly namecalling. Like it or not, Luke is our young Jedi Mayor!

    Maria said...

    I did not claim that to be against the bubble zone translates to being against choice.

    Luke didn't bother to explain why he was voting against it. He had all the time he wanted to do just that. He chose not to.

    He, therefore has left it up to me and other voters to guess why he voted the way that he did. That was his choice.

    I am saying based on my experience with the way the world works here in Western PA, if a pol goes out of his way to avoid the topic of choice and then votes against something like the bubble zone, it's a pretty safe bet he isn't pro choice.

    But Mayor NOT Jedi is always free to clear that up if he so chooses.

    Maria said...

    Soryry, I meant to say:

    I am saying based on my experience with the way the world works here in Western PA, if a DEMOCRATIC pol goes out of his way to avoid the topic of choice and then votes against something like the bubble zone, it's a pretty safe bet he isn't pro choice.

    Gloria said...


    I'm with you on your opinions & instincts re the Doogie meister.

    Is there any movement in the Dept. of Elections re when an election will be held? I haven't read/heard of anything.

    What's the best way for regular tax paying, voting, citizens of this town, to get some action on this? Do we start calling our councilmembers? Writing letters to the editor?

    Damn it, I want to vote for my mayor, this is the U.S.of A,right?


    Maria said...

    Well, the election would have to be scheduled 90 days before it occurs, I believe. Hard to imagine that he could be trying to beat the clock until February 2007.

    I haven't heard of any movement on this either and I agree that the public has the right to actually cast a vote for mayor and should know sooner rather than later when the election will be.

    What kind of pull does city council have on this anyway? I assume they had something to do with writing the charter (as a body, none of them would have been on council when the language was changed).

    LTE doesn't sound like a bad idea...

    Mike said...

    Ravenstahl is capable. He is also more progressive than he is getting credit for here. That said, he's interview (and the weird refusing of the tree) was terrible. He was unprepared. If he keeps it up, (unfair) questions about his age will pop up and he'll lose the election.

    Which, by the way, I believe will occur next year. There's this nasty thing called precedent. There was a midterm election for Mayor in 1959.

    David Lawerence left office to become Governor in the 1st year of his 5th term. The City Council President served as Mayor for 10 months. There was a regular primary and a regular general election where Mayor was on the ballot. The new Mayor, then State Rep. Gallagher, was elected Mayor, and (as called for in the Charter) took over as soon as the election was certified.

    Maria said...

    "He is also more progressive than he is getting credit for here"

    Can you please back that up? I really would like to know.

    RE an election -- precedent schmecedent. They changed the Home Rule Charter since then. That's what any ruling should be based on and the intent (if not some of the details) are clear:

    A vacancy in the mayor's office shall be filled at the next election permitted by law. The person elected shall be a resident of the city of Pittsburgh and shall take office as soon as possible after the certification of election and shall serve the remaining portion of the vacated term.

    Until the vacancy is filled by an election, the president of council shall serve as Mayor.

    Mike said...

    Ravenstahl opposed much of what Murphy was doing. He got elected by running to the left of Barbara Burns (one of Murphy's closest allies on council). He may not be as progressive as you, but he's still a progressive.

    And as for the Charter, I don't believe they've changed that part of it since 1959. The Charter reads the way it does for one reason: to prevent the election of a Republican in a special election.

    Think about it: if six Democrats come out of the wood work somebody like Mike Diven could get elected with 1/4 of the vote. By having a primary, that situation is avoided and Democrats keep the Mayor's office.

    They don't mention a special election--instead it's the next election permitted by law. The clear intent of that is a mid-term election for Mayor--complete with a primary.

    My guess is Ravenstahl wins election easily. There are situations where others could defeat him. And who those others are depends on what mistakes, if any, he makes. I believe there will be a primary in May of 2007. Probably 2 or 3 people will run against him.

    Be thankful it isn't Mayor Motznik. It was too close for comfort.

    Maria said...

    Everything that I've read said that the charter was changed after Masloff became mayor, but I wasn't living in the city at the time so I don't recall myself.

    I know Ravenstahl won his seat running against Burns who was a Murphy ally, but hell, the entire city had turned against Murphy by then.

    Anyway, I left out something from my list on this post:

    Ravenstahl also had to be pressured at the beginning of this year to reschedule the special election for Council District 3 after Spring Break instead of during it.

    Council District 3 includes thousands of students who live in the Pitt Towers -- kids who are only a couple of years younger than he is.

    Hmmm, the very definition of irony, no?

    He finally changed the date the morning of a planned protest in Oakland. The original date was thought to favor the machine endorsed candidate.

    Not just not progressive, pretty damn undemocratic if you ask me.

    But, like you, I'm also extremely grateful that it didn't end up being Mayor Motznik! [shudder]

    Mike said...

    I believe you'll find that he was supporting O'Connor in 2001, and maybe as early as 1997. He was not a fan of Murphy--ever.

    Mike said...

    Also, they may have changed the Charter, but I don't believe they changed the succession language. Some things hold over in Charter re-writes. And if they do, previous precedent is still good (1959). Mayoral election next year as part of the regularly scheduled election.

    Luke would be smart to support it. Delaying makes it look like he's afraid to stand for election, which weakens his position. If he runs and wins, he has a better mandate.

    Maria said...

    Still don't get how that makes him automatically progressive. Can you cite anything he's actually done?

    Matt H said...


    You say you want to vote for your Mayor...

    When the President of the US dies in office the VP takes over and you do not have a vote on it until the next election.

    Matt H said...


    much was made about changing the date for that special election but where were the student voters when push came to shove? If I remember correctly the same # of people came out to vote in that race, hradly any increase over the norm even with all the publicity on the issue the kids didn't come out of their rooms to vote.

    Maria said...

    Matt H,

    I'm sorry, but, duh! You vote for the VP when you vote for the president -- he's on the ticket. You know who will replace the president when you vote for him.

    The whole country gets a chance to vote for the VP!

    Only a council member's district votes for that council member and only city council members vote for their president.

    It is most definitely NOT the same.

    That is why the charter sets up a mechanism for an election for a vacancy in the mayor's office.

    About 6,000 people voted Luke into office and eight people (including himself) voted him into the presidency of city council. Almost 60,000 voted O'Connor into office.

    HUGE difference!

    RE students voting:

    Have you ever heard of 'it's the principle that matters'?

    They have the right to vote. The election could take place legally when school was in session.

    What's the justification for not letting them vote?

    "...hradly any increase over the norm..."

    Well, damn, voter ranks have been decreasing consistently over the years. Maybe we should just close down polling places with low voter turnout.

    Maybe we should just stop voting all together and let some boys in a backroom somewhere pick our leaders.

    Sorry, but I really don't get what you're coming from.

    If ONE VOTER (student) was able to vote who wouldn't have otherwise, then it was worth it.

    But I guess that's just me.

    Amesh said...

    I believe Ravenstahl is anti-choice and basically stated it in this article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

    Maria said...

    Thanks, Amesh!

    From the P-G article:

    He has said little on divisive social issues. In December, he largely sat out a bruising council debate before voting against limits on protests around abortion clinics and healthcare facilities.

    "He's pro-life, I think," said Mr. Motznik. "So am I," he added, noting that he did not think the bill was too restrictive to protestors.

    "Socially conservative, I would agree" with that characterization, Mr. Ravenstahl said. On economic issues, he said he balanced business and labor concerns.