The dog wags back!

A sometimes funny, somtimes angry, but mostly progressive, blog on the politics and issues of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and America.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Last Mayor

You might think the title is over-dramatic, but then you probably don't live in Pittsburgh.

Today the dog had a chance to hear five of the candidates vying to by Mayor of the dying Pittsburgh. The sad thing is none of the candidate would dispute the characterization of Pittsburgh as “dying”. In fact, it was the common theme among the gang of five, each of whom, of course, casts himself (where are the Sophies?) as the surgeon with the vision and the skills to save the patient.

Here folks is the Blue Dog voter’s guide to the Pittsburgh Mayoral Candidates 2005.

Bob O’Connor,
The anointed front-runner might want to think of a different slogan: Been 'ere, Dun'at just doesn't have broad appeal when you look at his record. Brother Bob's record is an impressive compilation of years of service on Council with literally thousands if not hundreds of thousands of hands shaken. This has gotten Brother Bob every major Democratic endorsement. But that is precisely the problem with Pittsburgh -- you get the Democratic endorsement when it is your time not because you are qualified. Brother Bob apparently has also the regionalism religion, but the conversion may not be real. He preaches regionalism but in the next breadth talks about as Mayor he will lead the region. The irony escapes him. What he means by leadership is not exactly clear, except he says that he will be the CEO Mayor. We already have a CEO President and look where that has got us. Sorry, Bob I don't want fries with my handshake.

Michael Lamb,

There may be more than one trick in this pony, but it doesn’t show. Mike Lamb deserves huge kudos for what he has done with the office of Prothonotary. For those of you who don’t know – and there is no reason you should – we elect the Prothonotary to keep civil court records and even the current Prothonotary thinks the office should be eliminated. His efforts to modernize this office are one of the few shining examples of where this county is a leader. The million-dollar question is whether that model is sufficient to save the city (It ain't). Mike is trying to whip that horse all the way into the Mayor’s office, but to think that trimming some money from the budget or that we have time to wait for efficiency improvements to pay off is more than a little naïve. Mike entered this race like a lion, but he’s going out like a bad pun.

Bill Peduto,
Mr. Bill would like everyone to think that during the worst years for the City that he has been the lone voice of reason on City Council. Well, he is. Mr. Bill talked about the City’s fiscal crisis long before it was in fashion. Mr. Bill has cache among the young, hip progressives in the East End and that alone is reason enough why he can’t win. But when all the candidates talk about the kind of vibrant city they would like to create – it is exactly the city (and the demographic) that Mr. Bill represents, but which lacks the numbers to get him elected. If ideas won elections, this race would be over. If I could jump, I would play in the NBA. On my scorecard, Lamb skewered (or tried to) Brother Bob every time he opened his mouth, Ludwig also took his shots but balanced it with attacks against the rest of the machine pols, Mr. Bill attacked no one, and Brother Bob took only one swipe at another candidate, and it was a subtle one, but he derided Mr. Bill's regional approach to the City's problems. So who do you think Brother Bob is most concerned about. Mr. Bill has the ideas and he is able to articulate what separates him from the pack, in fact far enough that rank and file Dems, Unionists and Yinzers will pass on Peduto. Too bad.

Joe Weinroth, no website available
Let’s get beyond the fact that a GOP candidate is simply not electable. If he didn’t tell you, you might not know he’s a Republican. If there isn’t a good Democrat in the fall, then he might just be the first Republican Mayor of Pittsburgh in living memory (there were actually several Republican Mayors in the 1850s!). Getting back to reality, Mr. Weinroth clearly understands the importance of the City’s fiscal situation, but you can’t equate balancing the budget with saving the city – it is a more complex equation. His reminders that Republicans control the legislature remind me of Brother Bob’s “ I have friends in high places” refrain that rings hollow when you look at just who our state legislators are and how the state as a whole has performed. Good Luck, Mr. Weinroth, you will no doubt get more votes than any Republican has in 100 years, and hopefully your strong showing will be a wake-up call for a local Democratic Party run by an ex-felon. Yeah, and I'm dating Halle Berry.

Les Ludwig,
What can you say about Les Ludwig? The self-proclaimed Reform Democrat might better spend his time reforming his campaign literature. Maybe he intended to mis-spell the name of the front-runner (O'Conner) as a not so subtle dig, but it comes across as the kind of sloppy incompetence that got us into this fix in the first place. In fact, when your campaign literature is replete with bad spelling and incomprehensible grammar, well, it’s not exactly an endorsement of the competence for a Man Who Would Be Mayor. But Les has high entertainment value. If you only hear one candidate before the primary, be sure to give him a listen. Les makes Brother Bob sound like William Jefferson Clinton. He is our own little “W” with his malapropisms but without the stench of evil. Eloquent may not be the word to describe him, but surprising, or even hilarious works - you just don’t know what this guy is going to say next. Without a doubt, he is the Mr. Excitement of the race. Under Mayor Les, Pittsburgh will be a city of free garbage trucks (not sure if the trucks are free or they give out free garbage), alternative funding (they’re not taxes, they’re well, alternatives to taxes), not mass transit (because we already pay state and federal taxes - that is the kind of sense he makes [not]). Mark Rauterkus refers to Les’s Ideas on Fire (he’s talking about the Fire department, but I can’t let the poetry pass). Anyway, most of Les’s idea should be thrown in the fire. With this guy, you get less with Les, so I guess less Les is definitely more.