The Ravenstahl administration -- and this time, Mayor Luke himself -- is back to battling publicly via Facebook. This time the target is Saleem Ghubril, the director of the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship fund, who the mayor says is basically a paid mouthpiece of UPMC.
You likely know the backstory: On March 1, the mayor announced he would not seek reelection and cited the Promise (a scholarship program for city public school students underwritten by UPMC) as his proudest achievement in office. Three weeks later he said he was challenging the charitable status of UPMC, the city's biggest employer, in court.
So where did that leave the Pittsburgh Promise? On Monday Ghubril wrote a letter to the Post-Gazette extolling the medical giant and urging compromise. It mentioned UPMC seven times and the mayor (who launched the Promise in 2006 with then Pittsburgh Schools super Mark Roosevelt) not once. Ghubril writes in part:
UPMC deserves much credit for seeing the big idea that the Promise represents for our region. In addition to financial resources, UPMC is involved with our students by mentoring them, providing internships and, for several, giving them jobs.
In this city of bridges we have demonstrated that renaissance happens when we commit to work together, when we build bridges toward each other because we recognize that it is the only way to get big things done. This requires labor and management of all sizes, businesses and non-profits of all shapes, governments and political parties of all stripes, and neighbors and communities of all ethnicities.
Ravenstahl (or someone using his Facebook account) commented on the letter in the Post-Gazette website -- something that his chief of staff Yarone Zober has done before when the mayor faced criticism. He wrote:
Keep in mind as you read this... UPMC basically pays his salary! By the way... What is your salary Saleem?
Ghubril did not reply but the mayor added a few minutes later:
By the way Saleem.... Your a director (first and foremost) of an organization that would not exist without the vision and fortitude of Mark Roosevelt and myself. Just to remind u. Funny how quickly folks forget.
UPDATE: Asked if the mayor wanted to explain the postings his spokeswoman said, "The Mayor has no further comment."
(Thanks to two eagle-eyed TV reporter friends for the tip. Know of any other Facebook moments by the mayor or his staff? Send them our way.)