A tough column from the Post-Gazette's Brian O'Neill on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has elicited a tough response from the Ravenstahl administration -- but not to the columnist/author. Rather, in 21st century fashion, the mayor's chief of staff is tangling with a resident who criticized the mayor via Facebook comments.
Brian takes on the mayor for not opening up about his new neighborhood in an obscure part of Perry Hilltop/Fineview. This isn't like past mayors whose homes -- in Squirrel Hill, the North Side, even David Lawrence in Friendship -- were essential parts of their personas and public life. From the column:
I figured I'd ask why Mr. Ravenstahl chose this quasi-rural slice of the city, and then we could get into what he likes and doesn't like about being mayor.
"He is not interested,'' his spokeswoman, Joanna Doven, reported by email.
Yet a few nights later at the premiere of that new Tom Cruise movie filmed in Pittsburgh, Mr. Ravenstahl said this is a great city in which to live and "any chance we get to tell that story is a good one.''
Excepting a chance to talk about his own neighborhood, that is. How can a mayor promote a city if he balks at questions that would be icebreakers at a PTA coffee klatsch?
. . . Pittsburgh media are not the prying type. We know there's no crime in being intensely private. I've even kept the name of the mayor's street out of this column. Not everyone has to be New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, riding the subway to work with the hoi polloi. But there can't be many big-city politicians this withdrawn.
Every mayor has questions he fears. Ours alone has drawn the line at "So how do you like the neighborhood?"
Onto the online comments. The first comes from a tech entrepreneur questioning the mayor's leadership skills, and then comes a response from Ravenstahl's chief of staff Yarone Zober. Zober, the chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, then notes the tech guy's wife got funding from the URA for her business (click for bigger version):
"I appreciate the thoroughness of your research into my personal life," the tech guy responds.
Go to the column to read the spat in full, including when one of the city's most prominent real estate brokers, Herky Pollock, comes to the mayor's defense too.