by Tom Leturgey
Soon the city of Pittsburgh will be back to normal on Grant Street. The tragic death of Bob O'Connor will continue to cast a shadow over our city for some time; however, we must move forward.
New interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is a "transitional" leader: a compromise canidate from Pittsburgh City Council, undoubtedly scared out of his wits. He's probably a good guy, but no 26-year-old on the planet can successfully run a major metropolitan city with no experience.
When he was appointed city council President, the city was being led by a healthy, robust Mayor who was easily expected to serve two terms.
Bill Peduto should have been council president, but he ran against O'Connor and the "powers that be" weren't going to allow him to be in the city's second-most-valuable position.
Jim Motznik thought the position was going to be his, but the Overbrook resident's only claim to governmental claim is publicly running away from a television news reporter. He's now President of City Council.
Tawanda Carlisle reportedly wanted the city council president post at the beginning of the year. Can you imagine if she had been the original "compromise" canidate? She grabbed headlines earlier this year for allocating untold thousands of public dollars to personal friends, stating the money was paid for "reports" or "studies." Turns out the funds were transfered to pay for nearly-plagerized works.
Bob O'Connor's former chief of staff, now councilman Doug Shields, reportedly also wanted the city council presidency, but he didn't have the votes.
That allowed Ravenstahl, a former college placekicker and council's only four-year college graduate, to be given what was perceived to be a largely ceremonious tip of the hat.
There is already differences of opinion how long Ravenstahl can serve as interim Mayor. Common sense says that a special election will be held next year; however, there is arcane verbiage in the city charter that states a city controller and Mayor's race cannot be held in the same year. And you guessed it, that row office election is in 2007.
Ravenstahl has just started to represent his north side constituency; only those with a pure personal agenda can believe that the interim Mayor can serve until 2009, which is the next year of municipal elections.
Ravenstahl has not been elected Mayor. He was not even a decisive choice as city council President, as O'Connor had been years ago. It can be argued that Ravenstahl shouldn't be an interim Mayor at all.
IF the smartest and most civic-minded heads prevail, there will be a special election for Pittsburgh's 60th Mayor in 2007. Don't count on it, however, as this issue will surely bog down our system for some time to come.