Monday, October 22, 2007

Luke Ravenstahl Outperforms DeSantis in Pittsburgh Mayor Debate

I have terrible news to report, Dear Reader.

Mayor Luke "the Fluke" Ravenstahl will inadequately rule Pittsburgh for the next two years. During this evening's debate on WTAE [live-blogged by Bram at the Comet], Mayor Wunderkind exuded charm and confidence. He actually came across as likable and knowledgeable. He flashed a ready smile and gave butter-smooth answers for the silver-platter questions posed by moderator Sally Wiggins.

Although DeSantis was prepared for questions about his FOP endorsement, Republican affiliation, and half-baked plan to reduce city spending, he looked nervous. He made no prolonged eye contact with the cameras. He spoke with a stale delivery that betrayed his message of "courage" and enthusiasm for the city's future. I can't recall DeSantis grinning at all.

DeSantis' campaign has failed to adequately defend his FOP endorsement. The only way he can repair the damage is to get the policeman's union to state publicly that DeSantis did not promise to waive the residency requirement. At the debate, DeSantis said he believed that the residency requirement precludes the city from hiring the most talented employees. That's a reasonable position, and he may be right.

But city residents won't be happy if their policemen are living outside the borders. And Ravenstahl gave the taxpayers a crisp, red-meat rebuttal.

"To suggest that we can't find talented people inside the city, that's a slap in the face to city residents."

Smash your face, DeSantis.

The FOP endorsement might just be more trouble than its worth for the DeSantis campaign. Despite his protests to the contrary, it smacks of the kind of horse-trading DeSantis has been railing against.

I think Ravenstahl wins on the issue of consolidation, too. Whatever the reasons for the city's pecuniary problems, city residents are just as frightened of losing control to a county executive as suburbanites are of assuming the city's crippling finances. Quote DeSantis: "I hope I'm the last mayor of the city of Pittsburgh." Yeah. that ought to play real well in Carrick.

Ravenstahl showed he has no idea how to attract businesses to the city. He talked about cranes and downtown construction as signs of growth, either slyly or willfully ignorant of the 0% job growth and high commercial vacancy, both of which were cited by DeSantis.

The only moment DeSantis came across as humanly comfortable was when he retold the story of learning about Senator John Heinz's death and its affect on his career path. [Disclosure: I watched the debate at Cappy's with the DeSantis crowd]. Everyone, including the uninterested barflies, stopped and listened to his answer.

Much better than Luke's answer: my brother was in a car crash nine years ago.

Despite Luke's proclivity for obfuscation and replies that can be paraphrased as "hey, I didn't cause this mess. I just became mayor because the old charming guy died", Ravenstahl wins. Neither Bob Mayo nor Jeremy Boren, both indubitable if not unspoken adversaries of Raventsahl, failed to unnerve Hizzoner.

And with little time remaining, I hereby crown Mayor Wunderkind King Shit of Fuck Mountain for two more years.


Anonymous said...

I agree about Ravenstahl winning it, and I was watching hoping to be convinced by DeSantis. I was not. He seemed a little shifty to me, eyes bugging out a little too much.

And Ravenstahl came across much better than I thought he would. I didn't watch any of the other debates, for what it's worth.

CapitolMAN said...

Agreed. The bug-eyes bothered me. If I had read the transcript without watching the debate, I might come to a different conclusion. But DeSantis didn't have the same stage presence as Mayor Opie.

EdHeath said...

It is possible that Joe Voter, who knows the issues but refuses to think about them, will think the smug, dubbya-like Ravenstahl won. But on two key critical questions, the Mayor showed why he is the wrong man for the job. First, he refused to answer Bob Mayo's question about how the Mayor's own five year plan goes into increasing deficits in year four and five, for a combined $19 million, half the "rainy day" fund. Just saying the ICA signed off on it is not sufficient, especially when Jane Orie telegraphed her view of Ravenstahl by refusing to meet with him last week. Second, the Mayor punted on his answer on the pension fund, saying the answer lies at the state level. That may be true, but saying it again sends the message to the state that Pittsburgh Democrats take no responsibility for our wild spending, and expect the rest of the state to give us a billion and half dollars just because we think they don’t give us our fair share.
Maybe the Mayor won the debate as the prettiest girl at the ball, but maybe y’all should listen to the content.

sbwagner said...

Ravenstahl could have came to the debate totally nude.. and 85% of the yinzers would still say he won the debate. Point is, there is nothing worth debating here.

Ravenstahl- vote for him because your mum and dahd vote for the Dems..

DeSantis- he's bad cause my union flyer said so.

CapitolMAN said...

It's television, Ed! Recall that the 1960 debate was won by Nixon, according to folks who listened on the radio. But if you watched it on the new fangled teevee, Kennedy won.

Ravenstahl passes the blame for problems with pension, indebtedness, and future structural deficits. But it doesn't matter. I think city taxpayers like the us-versus-them bill of goods Ravenstahl is peddling.

He also showed very good command of the facts, which has been a problem of his.

Schultz said...

Command of the facts? Like the fact the he was a Democratic Committee person at age 15? Or was that 18? Okay okay, so maybe he misspoke - or maybe he's just a compulsive liar???

You call it command of the facts, while I thought is was more along the lines of "spin", but I guess I do agree with you in that he did do a good job of dodging questions and doing a good job of BS'ing when he actually did answer the questions.

The Bag of Health and Politics said...

I doubt anyone other than the already committed watched the debate in mass. An off year local election like this is not decided by debates. It's decided by grass roots organization. DeSantis has some. Ravenstahl appears to have none.

EdHeath said...

Actually, it's the internet. For myself, I want to use blogs to get below the superficial. That's why I highlighted the two points I did.
As for the Mayor's command of the facts, I would echo earlier comments, it's more like command of the titles of reports he's been given. Unfortunately DeSantis didn't start focusing until the last few minutes, so he was no better. And both of them wandered into the grammatical hinterlands amateurs find themselves in when you have to speak on your feet. Like my last sentence.

Anonymous said...

Add this to the debate on residency. Why is Pittsburgh the only city, town or burg of any type that the state residency law applies to? Why are City employees followed and investigated on this issue while the Mayor's golf buddy and member od his staff lives in Butler County?