What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 22, 2009

Pittsburgh Mayoral Debates, Round 2

Regarding last week's debate, I noted the following exchange:
The candidates are allowed to ask each other questions and Acklin asks Lukey, "Who are John Verbanac and Ed Grattan and what role do they play in your administration?" Lukey answers with "John Verbanac and Ed Grattan are friends of mine and they have no formal role in my administration."
The other shoe dropped last night when Acklin followed up with this:
"Our campaign has come into receipt of very specific documents and e-mails that prove that Mr. Verbanac has had a very intimate relationship with your administration," Mr. Acklin said to the mayor.

"He has written your speeches. He literally puts words into your mouth. He's called the shots on who you hire and fire. He advises you on city policies and developments. . ... It is very clear, Mr. Ravenstahl, that you lied to the people of this city on Saturday."

The mayor responded, "Your accusations are wrong, they're inappropriate and I think it shows the level to which apparently this campaign is going to go over the next couple of weeks, bringing private citizens into conversations, making accusations that are false like Kevin just did. ... I would just advise Mr. Acklin to be very, very careful."
Bram has excerpts of some of the emails at The Pittsburgh Comet.

If nothing else, they demonstrate that Verbanac has a profound relationship with and influence on Ravenstahl's Administration -- formal or not.

While the Acklin campaign has turned over the documents to the FBI has said that the documents were turned over to the FBI before the campaign received them, whether or not any actual illegalities occurred is unclear. Acklin has a press conference scheduled at his campaign headquarters this afternoon to speak about the contents of the Verbanac emails.

It's certainly been apparent for a while now that Acklin likes to play hardball. He's also good at it. If memory serves me correctly, Patrick Dowd had far more concrete ammunition against Lil Mayor Luke but couldn't get much traction. Which leads me to Franco Dok Harris.

It's sad to read in the P-G that after the debate:
While reporters shuttled between the mayor and Mr. Acklin, Mr. Harris, who turned in a solid debate performance, was largely ignored by the media.
It's a shame because I think that Harris provides a very positive vision for Pittsburgh, has progressive values like concerns for transparency and campaign finance reform, and yet, is not afraid to speak to issues like violence in the neighborhoods.

And, Luke? While he may have curbed his tendency towards tacky and juvenile public and semi public displays, he still comes off as an arrogant frat boy during the debates. Mr. Privilege. They may have had to talk Acklin down last night, but Lukey was constantly speaking out of turn. Also, when he talks about taxing college students and hospital patients, he seems to forget that many of them are actual Pittsburgh residents.

UPDATE: More on the Verbanic issue at Bob Mayo's blog.


JenEngland said...

That was such a weird thing to read in the PG, because in truth, they all interviewed Dok as well, and his comments show up in Bob Mayo's reporting. You have to wonder what Zoberstahl has got on the PG editors. Based on their nondorsement and some of the reporting, I'm betting its juicy.

Chris Potter said...

"While the Acklin campaign has turned over the documents to the FBI, whether or not any actual illegalities occurred is unclear."

Just to be clear, Acklin today said he had NOT turned over the documents to the FBI. He said it was his understanding that the documents had ALREADY been turned over by the time he got them.

In any case, Acklin is suggesting there will be more to come.

Maria said...

@Chris: Thanks, I'll change that. My assumption came from this line in the P-G (which I'm thinking now isn't all that clear):

Andy Gastmeyer, Mr. Acklin's press secretary, said the documents had been turned over to the FBI.

Maria said...

@Jen: I think they just gave up.

viking67 said...

What exactly does Acklin think he has on Ravenstahl? I saw him on PCNC last night and didn't get his point. He has these e-mails and it shows that Verbanec has Luke's ear. And what does that mean? There has never been an adminstration where there aren't "shadow people" exerting influence behind the scenes. If he's alleging influence-peddling, he needs to make that case. Other than repeating catch phrases ("He's written speeches for him. He's put words in his mouth") he really didn't make his point on the scale he thought.

Tacitus said...

@Viking: Why must Acklin make the case? You're assuming here Acklin even needs to "prove" illegal or nefarious activities to benefit from the allegations. I think by merely suggesting, even without a smoking gun, Acklin has achieved at least two of his campaigns objectives; those are, (1) to put into public question LukeR's credibility (2) gain traction and exposure for his own campaign.

Further, I think Acklin has also--quite smartly--suggested that this relationship between LukeR and JV, and those like him, came at the expense of breaking promises to neglected communities.

Gary said...

Minus a real issue, Acklin just looks like a third-place finisher trying to get his name in the paper 10 days before the election. That won't help him at all. There are so many different ways to make a case against Luke, this one makes little sense. It's dull and unfocused. Meanwhile, he's on TV acting like it's Watergate. Unless Luke is spotted with a bevy of hookers between now and Election Day, he wins easily.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The full debate #2 is now online at WTAE.com's PittsburghChannel.com.