What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 16, 2007

Answers from Bob Mayo

After trying all day to put up this post, I see that one of Pittsburgh’s most on-the-ball reporters, Bob Mayo, has updated an earlier post on his blog from this morning. It addresses the “who owns the Luke Ravenstahl hands-on–the-hips photo” question.

Mayo’s blog post links to this PittsburghChannel article wherein we learn:
The biggest buzz is about this hands-on-the-hips photo that remains on the city's and the campaign's sites, as well as city Redd-Up fliers and billboards.

"Those were private photos that were generated and given to me personally from a photographer in the South Side," said Ravenstahl. "So that was a file that was given to me. The city never paid anything for those photos, so that's my personal photo."


The professional photographer who took that hands-on-the-hips photo of the mayor confirmed that he gave the mayor the photo for free.

It's from a photo session that would normally cost $1,500.

Ravenstahl provided that photo to both the city and the campaign.

OK, let’s think about this for a second.

After Ravenstahl becomes Mayor, he coops the late Bob O’Connor’s signature (and very popular) Redd Up program, renaming it after himself. He then “donates” the image that brands the program (and seemingly all things garbage collections-related) and which appears on billboards all over the city and which he, alone, retains full control of to the City.

(Hmmm…I wonder if that’s also true for the photo which is used for all the 311 billboards and other advertising?)

I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of such of a thing before.

I can’t come up with any similar instances of any official of any city owning the images that brand city programs, much less an official then using those same images to promote himself for his own personal gain. (Then again, most cities don’t have multiple official city programs named after one person and then plaster that one person’s image all over the town. You’d have to go to Castro’s Cuba or back in time to Mao’s China to see that kind of thing.)

I really find this astonishing.

I mean, it would be as if George W Bush donated a picture of himself with his dog Barney to the US Government for a federally funded program to adopt shelter animals and then used that same image later to sell “W” brand dog food.

Did Ravenstahl plan to use the hands-on-the-hips photo on an eventual campaign website when he “loaned’ it to the City?

Damn! That is some pretty slick self-promotion.

I have to say, I guess he really isn’t as dumb as he looks.


Matt H said...

"I really find this astonishing"

Is that because Mayor Ravenstahl provided the correct answers that pretty much clear him on the issue?

Everyone & their blog thought they had the Mayor...close but no cigar.

Anonymous said...


We have _had_ the Mayor.. he been passed around like a.... nevermind.

Maria makes a good point...


North Korea:

Anonymous said...

Silly me, I did not pick the best example...


EdHeath said...

Aw man, blogger just ate my comment.

There was this South Park Episode, where one of the kid's little brother was having an affair with his adult teacher. The kids go to the cops to complain, and the cops reactions is ... "Nice". "Is she hot, I'll bet she's hot". "Nice"

My point is that since apparently no one out side the Iron Curtin has tried anything this brazen, it might not violate any written, established ethics rules. I mean, the value of a picture is fairly low, and its not like Luke is making any money off his dual use hands on hips pose. You are supposed to make sure your violations fall inside established parameters. Considering even the new, reformer legislators are leasing luxery cars and SUV's, their reaction to Luke's antics is likely to be to take notes. "Nice".

Agent Ska said...

I would say that it's not Luke who's smart, it's Damon Andrews- his campaign manager.

Jason Phillips said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Phillips said...

It may not be illeagl, but is still questionable if it is ethical to brand oneself with a picture and then have the city pay the post to spread it around just before the Primary

Malificent said...

I wonder if the $1500 in-kind donation of photography was listed as such on Luke's Campaign Finance report?

By law it should be on there.

Wonder if Chris Potter came across it as he was plugging numbers into the City Paper's political donations database?

Maria said...

Great points, Jason and Malificent!

Anonymous said...

Malificent! - Great catch!

Richmond K. Turner said...

I just want to say that, when I wrote Malificent's same point into my hot-off-the-broadband new post, I had not yet read it here. Malificent and the Admiral, like many great minds, simply came to same conclusion idependently. But since she posted in hours before I did, she gets to auction off the naming rights.

Anonymous said...

Matt, Any idea on when the debate is?

Anonymous said...

I have taken this 'gift' issue up on my blog.


Anonymous said...

Wonder if Chris Potter came across it as he was plugging numbers into the City Paper's political donations database?

I believe the contribution of a photo would be an "in-kind" contribution. Those are listed separately from cash donations, which is all that the database records.

At any rate, "Ravenstahl for Mayor" did not record ANY in-kind contributions in 2006. So it wouldn't have shown up anyway. Somehow, though, I have a feeling we'll be seeing it logged on the NEXT finance report ...