What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 7, 2009

Onorato's Announcement

As seen by Jim O'Toole of the P-G:

Basking in the afterglow of the G-20 summit, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato gave a hometown kickoff to his bid for governor last night before crowd of several hundred supporters and a smattering of vocal opponents.

Mr. Onorato, 48, cited a litany of environmental and development achievements from his two terms as county executive and said they offered a preview of the leadership he would provide for Pennsylvania.

He said the recent economic summit had given an international showcase to those accomplishments.

But the G-20 giveth and the G-20 taketh away.

The North Side native's speech was repeatedly interrupted by demonstrators loudly protesting the actions of police officers confronting crowds in Oakland and elsewhere during the event two weeks ago. As he began to speak in the IBEW hall on the South Side, one activist leapt to the stage brandishing a banner protesting the police actions. At several subsequent points, other demonstrators emerged amid a riser full of union supporters on the candidate's right. Some chanted; some held signs while duct tape covered their mouths.

"What happened at Pitt?'' read one of the banners, which was then wrestled away during the recurring episodes. Police removed the demonstrators from the hall. A smiling Mr. Onorato soldiered on through the interruptions, repeating the announcement speech he had delivered earlier at events in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

"It's free speech," he said afterwards. "God bless them. It's America."

Potter of the CP has some details:
As the crowd filtered in, I noticed at least a half dozen faces familiar from protests in the wake of the G-20 summit. Several had appeared at a recent protest at the University of Pittsburgh. There, they denounced police tactics on Sept. 24 and 25 as heavy-headed. Among them was Naomi Archer, a veteran protester involved with the Three Rivers Climate Convergence.

"Are you here to support Dan?" I asked.

"Oh yes," she said. And then added, with heavy irony, "The leadership Dan has shown has really been inspiring. And one thing I like about him is he really knows how to put boots on the ground."

Not long after, Onorato took the podium. And so did Archer. Just as Onorato was beginning his remarks, she leapt to the stage, and gave him a hug. Onorato gestured to security off-stage as Archer said into the microphone, "I just wanted to let you know that the G-20 protesters ..." She was dragged away before she finished the thought, to applause from the crowd.

But it wasn't over. Moments later a group of Pitt students, standing on a riser to the side of the podium with duct tape over their mouths, unveiled a banner reading "What Happened at Pitt?"

One of them, Jonathan LaTorulle, was soon clapped in handcuffs because he refused to leave. (The IBEW hall is, after all, private property.)

And looks like Potter got some face-time:
I caught up with Onorato briefly after his speech.

"The protesters wanted to know what happened at Pitt," I said. "What do you think happened?"

"I'm not even going to comment on that," Onorato said. "We can talk about that some other time, but not tonight."

I asked if he had any concerns about the G-20 summit, or if he'd watched Youtube video of the events in Oakland. "No," he said. "I'm not going to comment."

Potter, again:
Protesters saw the event as PR coup. "The message is going out," local gadfly Albert Petrarca told me. "Right here in his hometown, Onorato is having trouble. And that's going to be the message. This was a public-relations disaster for him, because this is going to be the lead story tonight."

Some seemed worried that Petrarca was right. One Onorato supporter urged media not to focus on the arrests. "The real story is inside" where Onorato was speaking, he said. The protest, he added, "is just poor manners."

"So is imposing a police state," Petrarca shot back.

O'Toole may be right: The G-20 giveth and the G-20 taketh away.

Now if RICH LORD had written that, we could finish the Job with a bible-pun.

1 comment:

Clyde Wynant said...

Ain't it a damn shame when some pols predigested "announcement tour" gets interrupted by a dose of reality? Gotta love it. Of course, there are a lot of people in this area (young and old) who thought ALL the protesters were "nuts," so for them, this might helped their view of Danny Boy....