Democracy Has Prevailed.

February 23, 2007



I just read this.

It's about Mayor Ravenstahl saying in private to some Allegheny County Democratic Committee (ACDC) members how he didn't think people should be using contraceptives. Then, denying that he'd ever had that conversation, then dodging whether or not he's against contraceptives and how committed he is to a right to privacy.

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I'm sorry, I think I temporarily went blind or blacked out or something.

What year is this?

This is coming from Pittsburgh's "hot, hip, young" mayor?

And, let me make this clear, I don't give a flying fig what Luke thinks about contraceptives for his own family.

I do care what this City's Mayor whispers about contraceptives to other public officials (ACDC members are elected by the public) in private when he's trying to get their votes. (The average age of ACDC members must be, like, 70 something and lives in a region which is heavily Catholic.)

I especially care when this same person voted against the so called "Bubble Zone" Ordinance" -- without public comment -- while he was on City Council.

I also care when a supporter of Luke's recently called up a progressive friend of mine claiming that Luke is the real progressive and that Bill Peduto is actually anti-choice. Let's just hope that the caller wasn't working from a script (you know, one for progressives and one for older ACDC members).

Let's also hope that this Luke supporter, who is a gay man, also stops to think for a moment that if Ravenstahl adheres so rigidly to Catholic doctrine on contraceptives (which let's face it, most American Catholics don't), that he might also believe Catholic doctrine regarding gays. I hope he promises to at least abstain from all gay sex sex with other men (and any contraceptive use) until he checks it out with Luke. Otherwise, he might want to consider switching his alliance away from someone who, well happy to have his vote, may very well consider him to be a sinner.

But more importantly, someone who has no problem putting his own religious doctrines first when it comes to making public policy for everyone.


Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as gay sex. Sex acts aren't defined by orientation of the participants.

However, point well taken. Gays embracing Luke ... well its like gays embracing Riccardi ... oh wait, they did that! I guess the self-loathing Catholic culture overwhelmes are instincts for self-preservation. Or money trumps all.

Maria said...

Point taken here too.

I will change it to "sex with other men."

Anonymous said...

That's quite a cease and desist order. :-)

Luke is a young theocrat in training.

Anonymous said...

As posted on the other thread, but with the foreword: I'm ashamed that any so-called "progressive" would support a guy with a position like that.

And before the "it doesn't matter crowd" appears, it does matter. Will the Mayor support establishing a condom distribution program like New York did? Or will he listen to the religious right, and nix it? Such a program would save lives and prevent suffering--which is undoubtedly a just and moral thing to do.

I understand the pro-life thing (I'm pro-life). But any elected official that doesn't openly promote contraception doesn't deserve their office.

Contraception does more than prevent pregnancy, it also prevents the spread of diseases. I know that the moral brigade (of which the Mayor is apparently a closet member) will always be opposed to contraception.

But I dare these people to go into an urban Catholic hospital. See destitute patients suffering from late-stage HIV. When I was sick, I couldn't help but see it, and it was terrible.

Here I was getting treatment because I had a different disease (ulcerative colitis) and insurance. But there were people who could've been spared the suffering walking amongst others there.

If the moral brigade really wants to stop casual sex, and intravenous drug use, they should stop spending money on billboards featuring the Mayor's face and start educating the public. In the meantime, condom distribution--contraception--saves lives, and is in the public interest.

I know that the overwhelming majority of the Democratic Party supports contraception, and I hope that members of the Pittsburgh Democratic Party will uphold our shared belief in the public interest. I'm very unimpressed by the Mayor's answer.

Anonymous said...

Well, your latest post sent me right over to People for Peduto to donate a chunk of change (not a large chunk but still).

If there was a People Organized to Fire Ruth Ann fund I would head there next.

McArdle said...

I am giving Luke a chance to respond:

We will see what happens.

Anonymous said...

The "it doesn't matter" crowd is here.

Seriously, it goes far beyond the bounds of reason to assume, based on one alleged whisper, that Ravenstahl (who is NOT one of my favorite people, by the way) automatically will oppose condom distribution, be against gays and be anti-choice. We might as well decide he hates puppies too.

If it becomes apparent that Luke opposes any of the above things (including puppies), then I'll be up in arms. As yet, I don't see cause for alarm. Of all the things we could be reproaching him for, this seems the least relevant.

Anonymous said...

I understand the question from the audience was that the questioner had heard that he doesn't think people should be using contraceptives - NOT that he thinks there should be a city ordinance banning sale or use of contraceptives in Pittsburgh.

Either way, he denied it; but he is certainly entitled to his belief that people shouldn't use them. It doesn't appear from the rumor itself, or the question about the rumor, that Ravenstahl wishes to restrict, or in any way criminalize, contraception.

If the questioner wanted to know whether or not he is pro-life on abortion, just ask him.

And as far as the bubble law goes, it is a clear restriction on free - a content based restriction, in my view. I find it laughable that those who claim to love liberty seek to enact criminal sanctions against those who happen to exercise their first amendment rights in close proximity to an abortion clinic. If you don't like what they have to say, keep walking...

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Luke's pro/anti-choice, pro/anti-birth control, etc. But I do know he's been married for a few years and there's still no bun in the oven as far as I know.

Things that make you go hmmmm.

Bram Reichbaum said...

What exactly is a mayor empowered to do, without seeking council approval, in terms of contraception, and those issues which can be credibly taken together with contraception?

I feel like Council would have our backs on most things.

Anonymous said...

I figured this blog would eventually try to make this "anti-contraception" thing an issue.

You & others try to make a huge deal out of these tiny little issues.

Luke more than likely did not have any private conversations with ACDC members about contraception. Why would that even come up in meetings with committee members? It's an issue that Mayor Luke can do nothing about & one he has zero stake in.

I was there at the 14 Ward meeting and heard the woman ask the question. When the questionw as asked a good majority of the committee members were shocked and voiced their objections to it. The woman who asked the question said something about the conversation having occured with members of her own Ward. Don't you think if anyone really had those types of conevrsations with Mayor Luke they would have stepped up and called Mayor Luke out on it?

This is just getting crazy on here.

These blogs are like a train wreck, you hate to look but you just can't stop looking because it's a total mess.

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter if Mrs. Ravenstahl doesn't have a bun in the oven or kids yet?

I know plenty of people who have gotten married and not had kids for a few years.

Getting married doesn't mean have kids right away.

Dayvoe said...

Matt -

Nice sttempt at spin. No points for you I'm afraid.

The point was not whether the conversation that the question was based on occurred but the fact that he didn't answer it. Either by oversight or dodge, he skipped the question.

And I was there too. I wouldn't say a "good majority were shocked and voiced their opposition to it." There certianly was some vocal opposition (as, in fact, I wrote in my original post). A majority? No.

I am assuming you are the "Matt H" that works in City Hall - so I'll ask point blank. What is Mayor Luke's position on privacy as it relates to reproductive choice?

He's a public figure, and that's certainly an issue of great concern to the city's voters.

What is his position on the bubble zone ordinance (beyond saying it's the law and he'll enforce the law)? If he thinks it's a bad idea, then why does he think that?

He is an elected official and we do have the right to know his position on these matters.

Doncha think?

Anonymous said...

As for whether or not this conversation about contraception occurred, this is actually the second time the topic has come up, the first being at the 7th ward meeting, so I find it highly unlikely that the woman invented the conversation.

Secondly, there's nothing tiny about the mayor's unwillingness to be open about his political stances. Seeing as how Luke doesn't have a very long track record in city politics, we have to judge this election based on a.)what he is doing and b.) what he is saying. One of the most memorable things Luke has *done* since he's been a politician is vote against the bubble law. It was a slap in the face of women's rights, an attempted impediment to people's ability to get basic health care free of harassment, and a peephole to the mayor's view on privacy. Tack on his refusal to speak on those views in public, and I think we've got ourselves a red flag here. Does anybody know when Planned Parenthood candidate questionnaires will be out? I'm definitely curious to see what Luke will have to say, if anything. This is not about outlawing contraceptives in Pittsburgh! It's about electing a progressive government in Pittsburgh, and having the information available to do so.

(And for the record, this wasn't the only thing lacking at this forum. Luke also said that he "hadn't looked into" the Mon-Fayette situation enough to have an opinion on it. What!? Not to mention his non-existent plan for increasing diversity in the fire department.)

Anonymous said...

"Not to mention his non-existent plan for increasing diversity in the fire department"

Mayor Luke's answer to that question was perfect.

It's a civil service job. There isn't any way to increase diversity in the fire department. You take a written test then you take a physical test. The same ruls apply to whites, blacks, men and women.

Mayor Luke did reach out to local black ministers to talk to their congregations about the police recruitment. That's good as any plan if you ask me. It's really the only way to promote diversity in a civil service job.

Anonymous said...

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So if the Ravenstahl crowd is saying the city government can't be diversified because of civil service tests, then what does that imply? Something racist indeed. This kind of tact is the worst kind of subliminal racism there is. On the one hand, they're vaguely implying that minorities somehow can't do the job as well as whites, but on the other hand they're arguing for professionalization of government (which is a total crock coming from an administration of hacks).

Actually, there's no difference in test scores between minorities and whites on civil service exams. To imply otherwise is only furthering stereotypes that went out of date in the 1950's.

Also, I don't believe for one second that testing runs how people get hired on Grant Street. Anybody that's been involved in politics in this city for more than 5 seconds knows this to be true.

Anonymous said...

The Nail: you couldn't be anymore wrong in regards to the civil service tests.

No one in any Mayor administration can mess with those scores.

No one was saying that city government can't be diversified because of civil service tests.

Not all of the jobs in the city government are civil service tests. The topic at hand was about the fire department and the police department.

It's a fact that you take a written test then a physical test. You get mailed a copy of your score and then your name gets placed on a list.

If the fire department is hiring 50 guys they take the top 50 guys on the list. If you don't make the 1st cut your name still stays on the list. If 4 firefighters retire then they take the next 4 on the list to fill those positions. There isn't anything funny going on with these civil service tests.

Anonymous said...

There's a latent white supremacy in saying, "well they only take the top 50, so we can't diversify the police force." Whether it's intended or not, that's implying that women and minorities can't pass the tests, or at least don't do as well as whites. Of course, like all prejudice, this is a factually wrong belief.

Is the test relevant? Does it only cover job-related functions? Are there unfair culturally based questions on it?

If there's actually a difference by race in test scores (and everybody knows that there isn't when civil service exams are properly constructed), then the test has some biases that should be fixed.

Hiding behind a flawed system is cowardly, and pretty pathetic. But that's par for the course with this administration. How dare we expect the leadership of the City to actually lead?

Anonymous said...

What's your explanation for the "lack of diversity" in the fire department? Was their systematic discrimination by the Murphy administration over the last 12 years?

Anonymous said...

There has been a failure of leadership in the city over the past two decades--Murphy included, as his administration (while long on promise) failed in the end.

Leaders have to convince people that the city benefits by diversity, and by catching up to the 1990s let alone the 21st century. And yes, that means reforming the test process if it's producing the unacceptable and wrong result, which is white men passing and minorities and women not doing as well. The Mayor is saying, "Well I can't do anything about it because of tests." Implied in that is a form of white supremacy that is really despicable. It's pandering to the racist vote.

Also, it's just wrong. The Mayor can do something about changing the tests so that they're fair, and not biased. But by doing that, he'd be alienating some of his most important supporters that want complete control over things, and really don't care what it does to the city.

Anonymous said...

What's so unfair about the fire test?

The written part is fairly simple and the physical part is known going into it.

What's unfair about it? Should women, hispanics, blacks and other minorities be given points based on what minority they may fall into? That's pretty much the only way to make the two parts of the test any easier.

Anonymous said...

"Are there unfair culturally based questions on it?"

No there are not any unfair culturally based questions on it.

I know for a fact. I took the fireman test last year.

I didn't make the cut because I sustained an injury in a slip & fall two weeks before my physical test. After all that I still almost made my physical times.

Quit chasing an issue that is a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

Matt, I'm not positive, but I think you're white?

It's pretty clear that some tests do discriminate. The SAT is the worst, but others do as well.

I'm sure that you'd agree that people of different races have equal intelligence, can perform jobs equally, etc. Right?

If that's the case, then why hide behind a system that has produced discreapncies in the proportion of women and minorities who pass the test?

The answer is, of course, a problem in the test that the Mayor is hiding behind. If you do the research, you'll find that other cities have had problems with biased tests as well. Leaders of those cities realized it was a problem, and fought to change the test.

Our fearless leader hides behind the test, and uses it as an excuse for the lack of diversity in city government...which panders to the ignorant vote.

And this isn't a non-issue. It's a big deal. Government should look like the people it represents. And in Pittsburgh that means a diverse government for a diverse city.

Tiffany said...

I'm glad Matt H touched on this, because his stance reflects exactly that which I witnessed from the mayor at this forum. Luke was not commenting on cultural bias in testing. He was suggesting that there was nothing he could do if the test wasn't "easy enough" for minorities to make the cut. He didn't even mention recruiting issues until some of the audience members--clearly offended by the racist implications of his comment--shouted out "how about recruiting??" to the mayor, which is when he brought up involving churches in black communities. (And the fact that Matt H's "proof" that the test lacks cultural bias is that he didn't notice any when he took it says it all.)

Anonymous said...

The Nail,

Yes, I am white.

"audience members--clearly offended by the racist implications of his comment"

Wrong again. No one in the audience was offended by any comments that Mayor Ravenstahl made in regards to his answer to the question. After his answer a woman did ask what about recruiting. Luke explained the testing procedures to the woman because she was unaware that it was a civil service test. The person who asked the question CLEARLY did not know that the fire department jobs are strictly civil service and are not appointment based. It's total hogwash to say that someone in the audience was offended with his answer to the question.

Why don't you ask Bill Peduto's camp about it? They had plenty of people there video taping the event. Just like they do at every other event hoping to catch Mayor Ravenstahl in a slip of the tongue.

Your going off subject talking about other tests. We are talking about the fire department test here. Not the SAT.

The Nail---are you also implying that Mayor Ravenstahl is a racist?

Along with Bob O'Connor? The man who had a black son in law who he LOVED very much and who he looked at like another son?

What system is this Mayor or any other Mayor hiding behind? It's a very FAIR test that gives everyone an equal chance.

Anonymous said...

Matt, you're right about O'Connor. There wasn't a racist bone in his body. He had a unique ability to bridge the provincial nature of the city. I miss him. I wonder how things would be different if he were still around.

Luke is in an unenviable position, as he's running without his own network. I'm sure that much of the lame pandering that comes from his administration is driven by that. But I'm still not impressed. A true leader would seize the day, and move in his own direction, instead of trying to appease every single interest group in the city to get elected.

Still all this doesn't mean that the test is fair. Other cities have had problems that are obvious. One city even had an all-white fire class recently. To some that proves that "whites are better." To others (I would argue those with a clue), it shows tests need to be revised.

By defending the tests, the Mayor is giving a wink and a nod to people that hold outrageous beliefs. I don't think he's personally racist. But I don't trust any politician that plays to that crowd.

Anonymous said...

Check for a video of Luke's comments about the fire department.

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