What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 26, 2008

I guess it wasn't a threat -- it was a promise

So let's see:

1) Pittsburgh City Councilor Bruce Kraus said that Lil Mayor Luke Ravenstahl threatened him (that Council's staff salaries would be cut if Council cut the number of take-home cars):
Councilman Bruce Kraus said the legislation to cut staff salaries mirrors threats made directly to him by Mr. Ravenstahl at a fundraising event last week. The mayor's office has opposed legislation to cut take-home cars, and Mr. Kraus said that was the context of the threat.

"His exact words to me were, 'We're coming after you,'" Mr. Kraus said. "I said, 'If you feel that best serves the interests of the people of Pittsburgh, to cripple city council, have at it.'"

Mr. Kraus added that the mayor specifically threatened to cut council staff salaries, and said, "'And there's more where that came from.'"
2) Councilor Jim Motznik denied that there was a threat:
Mr. Motznik, who hosted the fundraiser Mr. Kraus attended, said he heard the conversation. "The mayor simply said that Act 47 is a work in progress, and it's a financial road map," Mr. Motznik said. "He didn't threaten him."
3) Kraus challenged Motznik's recollection of the events:
"Jim Motznik was nowhere near that conversation," said Mr. Kraus. "That's a bold-faced lie."
4) Ravenstahl verified that he spoke to Kraus but denied there was a threat:
"The notion that a threat was made is ridiculous," said Mr. Ravenstahl. "I suggested that if council took the position that they saw Act 47 as an authorizing document, rather than a financial roadmap, that they should look at themselves.

"It certainly wasn't a threat, and to suggest that it was I think is unfortunate."


"If they feel that Act 47 is a binding document, then they, themselves, should live by that. ... Don't throw stones when you live in a glass house, and that's what they've been doing."
5) Council did vote to approve Councilor Burgess' legislation to reduce take-home cars:
It calls on the mayor to reduce the number of employees with take-home cars from 59 to 29, a number drawn from the Act 47 recovery plan approved by council and then-mayor Tom Murphy in 2004.
6) And, then mayoral ally Motznik proposed legislation to cut Council's budget for their staff; and to strip $150,000 from what he termed a Council "slush fund" (assisted by Ravenstahl Finance Director Scott Kunka); and Councilor Dan Deasy proposed "an amendment to disallow mileage reimbursements for elected city officials, which includes the nine council members, the controller, and the mayor, who doesn't need the benefit because he is chauffeured in a city vehicle."

6) So, Lil Mayor Luke was right: it wasn't a threat. It was a promise. (And, this is one promise where Luke lived up to his word.)

Others in the Burghospere on this topic:

- http://burghreport.blogspot.com/2008/03/kraus-ravenstahl-threatened-me.html
- http://pghcomet.blogspot.com/2008/03/we-knew-it-would-come-to-this.html
- http://theburghblog.com/2008/03/25/war-what-is-it-good-for
- http://burghreport.blogspot.com/2008/03/ravenstahl-threatens-kraus-drama-ensues.html
- http://pistgazette.blogspot.com/2008/03/mayor-sends-hit-man-motznik-to-break.html
- http://macyapper.blogspot.com/2008/03/branding-asshole.html

On a side note:

During the flame war in Council Chambers yesterday, someone (Burgess? Kraus? Dowd?) mentioned that appointments by the Mayor to authority boards were handed out as rewards to Councilors who played ball with the Administration. I guess that's in perpetuity because lookie, lookie who's still on the board of Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority:

Len Bodack ( http://www.pgh2o.com/board.htm )

As an emailer wrote:
"Given that Len Bodack Jr. is no longer an elected official...and was appointed to the board as such, Bodack should have been stripped of his PWSA appointment when he left council.

(a) Council members appointed by the Mayor to authority boards pursuant to Chapter 220 shall be deemed to serve ex officio, i.e. by virtue of their office.
(b) Upon termination of office by any Council member for whatever reason, the appointment to an authority board shall also be deemed terminated and the Council member shall take such steps as may be necessary to relinquish his or her seat on an authority board.
(Ord. 19-2002, § 1, eff. 6-4-02)


What's up with that?"


Anonymous said...

If councilman Motznik says it wasn't a threat, then it must not have been a threat. I mean, if you can't believe him, who can you believe? He's Mr. Integrity, I tell ya!

- Shawn

Fillippelli the Cook said...

Are all elected Democrats in Pennsylvania corrupt pinheads, or just the large majority?

Bram Reichbaum said...

Well, it was clearly a threat to cut council's budget -- to inflict some administrative pain. The way it had been presented the previous week, it did sound like somebody was accusing somebody else of personal or even physical intimidation. I think that is what the mayor jumped out in front of to deny.

But yeah. It's tit for tat. Tut tut.

infinonymous said...

Democrats and Republicans fail in elected office in roughly equal proportions, by my reckoning.

Poor political and civic leadership are great plagues on western Pennsylvania, to be sure. From Murphy and Cranmer to the Allegheny Conference and UPMC, from Ravenstahl and Roddey to the Post-Gazette and city council, it has been disappointment, short-sightedness and decline for as far back as memory can travel.

So long as Rick Santorum is still within memory, by the way, the Republicans have no claim to any advantage.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Hey there whoa there, Infinonymous! How has the Post-Gazette exhibited decline?

To the extent that it has, how much of that is only marginal and attributable to a lack of direct tonal competition with the Pittsburgh Press?

infinonymous said...

The Post-Gazette has not so much exhibited decline as facilitated it by action and omission. The P-G has been a poor watchdog and lackluster community voice for many years.

From Murphy's half-witted "economic development" schemes to Onorato's cynical and dangerous drink tax debacle, from missing the public pensions story to kissing McClatchy butt (that one may be understandable, if journalistically bankrupt, because the newspaper WAS AN INVESTOR IN McCLATCHY'S BUSINESS), the P-G has too often been either on the wrong side of public policy or asleep at the wheel.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Infinonymous post about the P-G is the best comment I've seen this month, if not this year.

Right on!

infinonymous said...

Heck, I didn't think it was my best this week . . . if only for obviousness.

Bram Reichbaum said...

I'm not thrilled with their beat-level reportage of the Hill District, I can tell you that.

Motznik is a tool! said...

I am catching up on all the blogs from this week and wow! I just posted on char's blog what a tool motznik was (get it? jim "the hammer" motznik is a tool...i thought it was funny haha). Rev Burgess seems to hit the nail on the head (lol another good one!) about jimmy being the mayor's hammer. anyone else remember when luke sent jimmy to push dom costa out? can someone control these guys please?