From James O'Toole and Moriah Balingit:
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has raised questions in missing several public and political events in recent days.
Wednesday night he was again a no-show at a candidates' night at Perry High School in his North Side political base and a public explanation from his close friend, Kevin Quigley, only added to the uncertainty sparked by his absences.
Just after city Controller Michael Lamb, one of Mr. Ravenstahl's rivals for the Democratic nomination for mayor, spoke to the Democratic committee members, Mr. Quigley, a city Public Works Department official who is also a ward leader, rose to speak in Mr. Ravenstahl's place. He offered an intriguing but finally opaque apology and explanation for the candidate's absence.
"It is with a heavy heart that I tell you here tonight that the mayor couldn't make it. Within the next couple of days he'll be having a press conference to discuss some issues,'' Mr. Quigley said adding that "... there's some personal things going on right now that I'm not at liberty to discuss.''
"Everyone in this room supported the mayor at one time or another,'' he continued. "Us as Northsiders it's always been an old adage that we stick together. I'm asking everyone on this room to send their prayers out to the Ravenstahl family and to stick together as Northsiders.''
Later, Mr. Quigley alluded to the federal investigations swirling around the city Police Bureau as he said, "I'm going to tell you that the mayor is implicated in nothing that's going on with the city. He's having some personal issues. And I am here to tell you that in the next couple of days there's going to be some kind of press conference. I would just ask everyone in this room, reserve your thoughts and say a prayer for the mayor and his family.''
In a brief interview after the meeting broke up, Mr. Quigley declined to offer any elaboration on the mayor's situation or of the public statement that he told the crowd to anticipate.
"What the press conference is going to disclose I just don't know; I can't tell you,'' said Mr. Quigley, who was Mr. Ravenstahl's chief of staff during his time on council.
Mr. Ravenstahl's chief of staff Yarone Zober could not be reached for further explanation.
The previous evening, the mayor had also been conspicuous in his absence from another candidates' night just weeks before the Democratic rank-and-file will take their closely watched endorsement vote on March 10. After Mr. Ravenstahl failed to appear at the event in the 19th Ward, one of the city's largest, his campaign spokesman, Matt Harringer at first said he had a scheduling conflict.
Aletheia Henry, the mayor's campaign manager, said later that he was forced to skip the South Hills party event because his mother was ill. The nature of Mrs. Ravenstahl's illness hasn't been disclosed.
Earlier Wednesday, the radio station WESA had expected the mayor for its one-year anniversary show but, the station reported shortly after noon that "We had planned to bring you an interview with the mayor, however he was called away for an emergency.''
Over the weekend, the mayor missed two events with Steel City Codefest, a gathering of programmers who were challenged to create an app using civic data. He missed a Friday evening gathering billed as a "Mayor's Mixer" and the awards ceremony on Sunday morning, despite the fact the event had been hyped by the mayor's office. A press release Friday said the mayor would presenting the awards himself on Sunday, but he did not.
"The mayor was attending to other essential city business, and regrettably could not attend," the mayor's spokeswoman, Joanna Doven, said in an email.