Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Hate To Say It: DeSantis Probably Lost It By Caving To Special Interest Union

I’ll preface my comments by saying I donated a small sum of money to the Mark DeSantis campaign a few weeks ago. I was actually even going to match my earlier donation by the end of this week, but then DeSantis pandered to the Special Interest Group that is Pittsburgh’s Fraternal Order of Police union.

Believe it or not, with interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl floundering in the leadership category and lacking the humility to admit the misappropriation of a federally-funded, Homeland Security vehicle for a tailgate party, there was an argument to be made that he was vulnerable in next Tuesday’s election.

Mark DeSantis’ arrival onto the local political scene has been nothing short of remarkable. The longtime backseat politico wasn’t even on the ballot in the spring. He arrived on the ballot with a splash. Assuredly, the Democratic machine would have pulled some levers to put Ravenstahl on both ballots had it known that the current placeholder would be sputtering and spitting all the way to the finish line.

Ravenstahl holds the post well, sometimes channeling the city’s most dismal leader in 50 years, Tom Murphy. Ravenstahl chuckles off charges that he broke a law by firing up a charcoal grill in the aforementioned SUV. Needless to say, no media outlet has actively kept an eye on the vehicle. Out of sight, out of mind for the most part is the philosophy of television news directors. There isn’t a radio news director in town aggressive or even interesting enough to follow it either, and in 2007 the print media doesn’t provide the immediacy necessary to make a dent.

Meanwhile, DeSantis has largely said the right thing.

Then he nicked the Holy Grail.

Pandering to Pittsburgh’s employee unions is generally reserved for the incumbent Democrat for any race in the city. Rarely, if ever, does anyone do anything other than coddle the special interest groups that wield otherwise other-worldly influence and king-making power.

Heaven, or hell, only knows the real power the public sector royalty has, but the perceived weight of a couple thousand voters keeps tens of thousands of naïve ballot pushers and the downright disenfranchised away each and every election.

Lavishing public employees with contracts that become sweeter year in and year out is one of the primary reasons why Pittsburgh is in a tremendous and crippling financial situation.

Now the most compelling Republican candidate in decades has all but destroyed any chance he had by promising the most coveted of perks: permission to move out of the city that’s been decimated by generous handouts to the unions and other spending gaffs.

Mass desertion would ensue as police officers and their families would abandon Pittsburgh and its school district in overwhelming numbers. Who knows where they will go, other than outlying counties in which property taxes are lower. These magical lands feature movie theaters, five-star restaurants and kiddie playgrounds completely free of criminals they may have busted. It certainly won’t be to Millvale, Wilkins or Moon, as police officers will tell you that they rarely enjoy a moment’s peace, what with city criminals at every doorstep. Those neighboring communities less than five miles away couldn’t possibly include criminals. Tisk Tisk for imagining such a thing.

Much has been made about Pittsburgh being the only city with residency requirements. What’s wrong with residency requirements in a public position? Doesn’t the Mayor have to live within the city? Will he be allowed to move out? If residency requirements don’t matter, I want to run for the Mayor of Dravosburg, a dinky little town across the river from McKeesport. I betcha the monthly stipend there would cover most of my monthly city of Pittsburgh home mortgage, plus if Dravosburg is anything like nearby Brentwood Borough, I might be able to purchase untold boxer briefs with taxpayer monies before anyone’s the wiser.

Luke Ravenstahl touts a “Record of Success” that consists of virtually nothing tried, true and uniquely his. During a recent televised debate, he crowed about his relationship within the African-American community. The very next day, the city’s African-American newspaper “The Courier” joined Pittsburgh’s other print outlets in endorsing DeSantis.

City workers, the police in particular, absolutely, positively need to maintain a stake in the communities in which they serve. That should actually be required anywhere, but that cat’s already out of the bag. A vast majority of officers will simply sell their city homes and move presumably far away while still collecting paychecks that are massive in comparison to their average city neighbor.

Quite a few city neighborhoods (mine included) are able to boast high concentrations of city workers as proof that it’s safe and desirable. Urban Republicans understand this phenomenon, just like their Union spoiling Democrat counterparts.

It’s an honor to serve as a police officer anywhere and a privilege to work for a wonderfully diverse and eclectic populace as Pittsburgh has to offer. The rewards are high and for the most part, the workload is routine. It became big news a few years ago when the SWAT team was called out. I was in attendance when Chris Rock’s brother Tony launched into a hysterical routine about the cops realizing there was a SWAT team amongst its ranks when he performed at the Improv some time ago. That was a few days after the infamous Pigeon Shooter became folklore. Then newly-installed Mayor Bob O’Connor raced around downtown, looking like a less-criminal Robert Blake.

DeSantis claims that the city is missing out on a plethora of good cops who are too afraid or hesitant to move within city limits for a plum job. Truth of the matter is, if they were that good and desirable, the good suburban cops would land the job, move into a nice, affordable neighborhood and send their children to a posh private school.

From time to time, suburban Republicans like state Senator Jane Orie scare the population into thinking that the residency requirement will be lifted any day. These lawmakers simply don’t understand what it’s like to live in a typical city of Pittsburgh neighborhood where low rents and hand-me-down properties often produce a cacophony of calamity that’s unfathomable to the elites, liberal or conservative alike, in their gated communities, security-protected apartments, or sprawling estates of somewhere other than Pittsburgh’s 88 neighborhoods.

It’s simply un-Republican for DeSantis to cower to the special interest groups.

I’ll still vote for DeSantis on Tuesday as something new and revolutionary has got to happen. Perhaps I’ll be wrong and thousands of new real estate listings won’t pop up overnight if he wins.

Fact is, DeSantis had a really had a good, improbable, some might say miraculous chance to unseat a totally unqualified accidental placeholder. Ravenstahl’s claim that DeSantis sold the city off to placate the union is not that far off, and just enough to derail DeSantis’ chances.


Schultz said...

He didn't cave, that was his initial position on the residency requirement. He was on record as far back as July stating his position, months before any talks to the FOP took place.

So, while I don't have a problem with you disagreeing with his position, I don't think it's fair that you are misleading everyone by calling it "caving."

Thomas Leturgey said...

You are probably correct, but seeing that it hadn't made a headline until recently, this was indeed the "October Surprise" that Ravenstahl needed to ensure his ability to drive expensive Sports Utility Vehicles to Pirate Spring Training for the next two years.

I'm misleading no one.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Tom, nice post.

My take on how to frame this discussion is elsewhere in the blog. He could have said it is about freedom. He didn't connect the dots in a rebuttal. That steps him beyond the union discussion.

Schultz said...

"Caving in" is misleading, since he didn't show up to the FOP on Banksville road undecided about the issue and then, after pressure from the FOP, he caved to their demands. That would have been caving.. He did not do that. You are misleading.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark:
How about the current Police Officers that live out side of the city now? Allowing the Police to legally live out side of the city would make these Officers legal.

Kendrell Bell said...

I just don't get it.

Why in the hell does it matter whether or not the police live in or out of Pittsburgh? This is a free country, isn't it? As far as I see it, these guys and ladies are putting their LIVES ON THE LINE every day they report for duty. And you are selfish enough to require them to live in the city as well? What a joke.

I guess the next step will be requiring all city workers to only spend the money the are paid as salary at stores within city limits. And, while we're at it, all paid vacations must be spent in the city as well. God forbid a police officer take his kids to the ocean - or even worse - outside of the USA. What, the Ohio River isn't good enough for a swim?

Mark Rauterkus said...

First of all, I'm all in favor of more swimming in the local rivers.


Second, this is Tom's post. Not mine. Just to be clear.

Third, my advice to DeSantis stresses freedom too. I lean on the side of wanting to make more freedom in the city -- not less. So, I'm leaning on the side that the law is not ideal.

Fourth, we do need to respect Tom's position as to being in real estate sales and watching government life. I think his point about a big exodus from the city is something to worry about.

Perhaps a transitional period could be established over the course of two or three years. ???

Finally, there are police officers that live outside the city. I bet. How many, well, I'm not sure. There is fraud. Fraud and police don't mix well in my book. I'd love to get them out from under that cloud of living a lie.

mc said...

I agree with Kendrell, I'm confused as to why this is an issue at all. I'm also confused as to why DeSantis hasn't turned this around on Luke. During the second debate, Luke said it was a smack in the face to suggest to city residences that we could find better people outside the city. But that's exactly what Luke did when he fired all those directors and started a "national" search for their replacements. Weren't there good enough candidates inside the city?

Frankly, I think people should be allowed to live wherever they want. To me, it's a non-issue, and it's presumptive to say that it's the sole reason why the FOP endorsed DeSantis. As mayor, DeSantis could at most lobby the state legislature to change the requirement. That doesn't mean the legislature is going to listen to him. He cannot do it himself, so that whole argument is misleading. Luke didn't get their endorsement, too bad for him.

Furthermore, no one seems to be assuming that Luke promised anything to the international employee services union who gave him their endorsement. Why is it that there must have been a quid pro quo?

Luke is the one who has been negative all along. DeSantis' one mistake has probably been that he hasn't hit back hard enough. That, and not the FOP endorsement, is the thing that is most likely to prevent him from winning this race.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Like anything and everything -- enforcement is the key.

If the mayor says the police can live anywhere -- and they move out -- yet the law says otherwise, none are going to enforce it. The mayor and the law department won't.

Perhaps the controller could try.

State police are not going to go round up city cops who are shacking up in South Park (the township, not the park).

The law is a state law -- and it could be changed in a defacto way by a lack of enforcement.

Mark Rauterkus said...

BTW, I fully agree. A good counter punch is always very helpful.

Thomas Leturgey said...

"Don't know why it's an issue."

Spoken like a true suburbanite that pretends to be a Pittsburgher. See you at the next Block Watch meeting.

City officers tell a wild tale about running into criminals while they are out with their families. Or their kids go to school with the child of someone they arrested.

Yes, the cops put their lives on the line, and in the city, receive a nice paycheck for it. That is the life they chose. They must abide by the law.

As for the cops who do use "shadow" addresses, and live outside the city, they should be immediately fired and replaced by good, qualified officers who can play by the rules.

Kendrell Bell said...

Hey Thomas,

"Spoken like a true suburbanite that pretends to be a Pittsburgher. See you at the next Block Watch meeting"?!?!?!?

With the largest per capita debt burden of any major city in the nation, you choose to focus on where the frikkin police live?

You can look for me at the Block Watch meetings, but I'll see you at the upcoming City bankruptcy hearings - especially once them health care benefits for the thousands of retired city employees start to skyrocket (to the tune of 300%+)over the next 10 years.

60 years of "staying the course" has landed us in this mess. Keeping the police as hostage/residents isn't going to solve it.

Get your priorities straight.

Thomas Leturgey said...

First off, I use my real name and stand up for my beliefs.

Get priorities straight? You are laughable, one-time Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker.

You simply have no idea what you're talking about.

No one is being held hostage. If it's that important to live in Butler County, get a job in Butler County. The rules dictate that you live in the city of Pittsburgh. Live with it, or get a $9 an hour job doing the same work elsewhere.

That's the freedom. All city police officers have the freedom to go wherever they want. They just can't be my public servant if they can't live by the rules.

It is a just rule...they are public servants to the city of Pittsburgh, much like a Mayor, member of city council, etc.

If having a nice farm in the nether regions is that important, go do it. You're just not qualified for the city job.

Kendrell Bell said...


Keep focusing on the police living in the City. It is the make or break issue of the election (hardly).

Meanwhile, the MASSIVE debt we have will magically go away...or it won't. Soon enough, the National Guard will need to patrol our streets (since we won't even be able to afford "$9/hr policemen"). BTW, where can I find a $9/hr police force?

Let me guess, you're against consolidating redundant city and county functions as well....Just a hunch.

The living restriction is such an antiquated, non-issue, I'll let you continue to ramble on about it without any further responses.


Thomas Leturgey said...


$9 an hour police job? Virtually any suburb.

Lordy, they'll let anyone post on the Internet.

No more responses from our anonymous nimrod? Boo Hoo.

Kendrell Bell said...


True to my word. I won't mention a word about "you know what" subject.

But regarding the statement: "Lordy, they'll let anyone post on the Internet." - I couldn't agree more.

This coming from a hack who "loves professional wrestling" turns political blogger. Clasic. Only in the Burgh (or maybe Alabama).

When's your hard-hitting comparison between the management styles of Vince McMahon and Luke gonna hit the bookshelves? I can hardly wait.


Thomas Leturgey said...

Oh, the "smarter than anyone else in the room" guy doesn't like professional wrestling.

You don't really know who I am, do you? Perfect example of the clueless, anonymous dick. Sorry, I had to drop to your level of philosophical understanding.

That's okay, though. We all can't blaze trails.

Absolutely hysterical.

Kendrell Bell said...

Tommy Boy,

Sure I know who you are. A name-calling (look back at the history of this post to see who went south first to deflect from the fact that our great city is in the financial sh!ts), yahoo, wrestling-loving (I know it's a "real-man's sport", but sorry, if I want to watch acting, I'll head to the Benedum), peabrain of a wanna-be politico who insists his public servants live on the same block they patrol (otheriwse, how would they koow thy neighbor if they lived 10+ miles away whilst in the same city), Albert mc=e squared Einstein of a yinzer.

Oh, I'm also sorry to bother you during the holy time of WCW airing, thy Bozo of Bloomfield (or wherever in hell in this great city your narrow-minded arse lives).....

Keep fantasizing about $9/hr police - even though security guards at Walmart earn nearly double that for sitting on their keisters doing nothing - similar to what you do for most of your existence.

Sure I know you. Your ignorance to the real issues of Pittsburgh and reluctance to change from a corrupt, inefficient machine is exactly why we're in the dire finacial straits that will plague our children and their children for years to come (if the Bankrupcty Trustee doesn't do us all in first).

Now, go back to watching Rowdy Roddy Piper or whoever in the hell catches your fance these dsys.....


Mark Rauterkus said...

Boys, just keep this a family-friendly blog, okay...

Thomas Leturgey said...


As you well know, I absolutely love toying with these name calling goofs with no hold on reality whatsoever.

She's a girl who fantasizes with decade-old Steeler linebackers (hence her fake name) and complete inability to go "toe to toe" with me intellectually. Did you see the line about Wal Mart guards making $18 bucks an hour? Those are greeter vests...not security.

I try to post blogs that stimulate the mind, but ultimately--I'll borrow your venacular--it's "above the pay grade" of some of the angiest sad sacks around.

I'll have another one before election day, and I'm sure it will boast 30 responses of girls with their thongs in a bunch.

Again to borrow your phrase--Ta.


Thomas Leturgey said...

Oh, in addition...these responders almost always resort to the homoeroticism card. Scary.

Kendrell Bell said...

Tommy Boy,

I know the truth hurts you. I am oh so sorry for pinning the tail on the jackass. And you have the audacity to call me a "name caller" even though you initiated and continue to do so (although I could give a rat's arse about what names you call me) - ya big pansy.

Funny thing is - you are the one who hasn't said a peep about the debt our great city is wallowing in (you seem to ignore it just like our mayor does) or the fact that its residents will be forced to find a way out of by doing something DRASTIC....HEY - let me step into your brain for a second and come up with something revolutionary.....Maybe we can force all Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates season ticket holders to be city residents too like the 5-0 . That just might boost our population by 50% - and just think what all those new residents would do to help reduce the $1 billion debt we have.

One candidate understands that we are headed into even worse financial straits over the coming years as more and more employees of the city government retire (i.e. $55k/yr + medical benefits for all retired PAT bus drivers!!!) - while the other guy wants to bury his head in the sand and address "more important issues" like stopping gays from getting married and holding police hostage.

For your sake, let's hope there aren't too many gay policemen in our great city who live "illegally" outside of city limits and were secretly married in Massachusetts while on vacation near the ocean (I know that must boil your blood - overpaid cops going outside of the city for a vacation).

And, for the record, I wasn't referring to the 90 year old greeters at Wal-Mart who give you a smiley face sticker - I was referring to the guys who carry guns when money goes in and out of the stores. But I wouldn't expect you to know that, since someone like you never leaves the city limits, especially when it comes to spending money you earned in the city. I'm sure 100% of your millions of dollars spent writing about Macho Man Randy Savage and Rick Flair are all spent within city limits to maximize the collection of tax dollars that go to support our bloated city government. Keep up the good work!

Thomas Leturgey said...

Ms. Bell,

Had you known anything about banking, you'd know that the gun-toting bank employees aren't Wal Marters.

Also, could you read, you'd see that I intend to vote for Mr. DeSantis despite his unfamiliarity of neighborhood living. It's time to "do something, even if it's wrong."

Of course I would prefer to support Pennsylvania's economy and spend money within the country's greatest state; however, since we don't have ocean front property, that's impossible.

All of my family's land is in Pennsylvania. ownership...sore spot.

I couldn't care less about gay marriage. I'm beginning to believe that they should be allowed to be as miserable as the rest of us. But then again, you veer toward homoeroticism. That just freaks me out.

Pittsburgh is the only city that has a residency requirement for its police. Just because the Democrats have sent us into a nose dive over 70 years (the same amount of time for Republicans would undoubtedly provide the same corruption), it is good to shake things up from time to time.

I'm now off to see if that's Mark DeSantis knocking at my door. He's supposed to be in the neighborhood and I want to make sure he sees all five of the signs in my yard.

Thomas Leturgey said...

Oh btw, please keep tossing antiquated wrestler's names my way. It makes me chuckle. You'll never, ever beat me when it comes to eccentric writing. Never.