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New Ravensthal attack ad debuts

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Not being exactly on the best terms with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and his shadowy PAC, his latest ad comes courtesy of my shaky iPhone.

Ravenstahl's PAC "Committee for a Better Pittsburgh" is back with its second attack ad on rival Bill Peduto's mayoral bid, containing a hodge-podge of opposition material on the Democratic contender in the May 21 primary. FCC records show he'll be on air through primary day next week.

The mayor's first third-party spot claimed the councilman opposed development in largely black neighborhoods while pushing it in his East End community. This one goes into police pensions, parking rates and other fairly common attacks but goes after seniors and pocket book issues at the end.

The main new attack here seems to be the thing about taking public money for exotic trips: the claim here is from a personal trip Peduto made in 2008 to Boston, Turkey, Washington and Norway that began with a conference on public pensions at Harvard paid for with city tax dollars. Peduto got a ruling from the city Ethics Board approving the trip.

"Bill Peduto: A risk Pittsburgh can't afford," it says at the end, over vaguely Soviet-style graphics.

UPDATE: The Peduto campaign has repeatedly tried to tie mayoral rival Jack Wagner to the ads, and did so again in the response from spokeswoman Sonya Toler:

These blatant distortions reflect how desperate the Wagner campaign is getting as voters learn the truth about his siding with Republicans on budget cuts that harmed children and seniors, while increasing his own pay and raising his own pension 50 percent.

Full script -- and Peduto fact-check -- after the jump.

"Welcome to the parallel universe of Bill Peduto, where everything is backwards.

Peduto supported giving tax breaks to wealthy developers, but cutting the pensions for police. Peduto supported higher parking rates for us, but special lower parking rates for himself. And Peduto supported raising seniors' property taxes but using other people's money -- including tax dollars -- to take exotic trips. Bill Peduto: A risk Pittsburgh can't afford."


From the Peduto campaign:

Claim

Fact

Peduto, “supported giving tax breaks to wealthy developers”

 o introduced legislation to create construction jobs.Peduto said he proposed the legislation after hearing from developers that tax abatements make it easier to finance projects. He said developers are holding back on construction because of difficulties borrowing money in the economic climate.  [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 12/9/11]

The legislation charged additional taxes on owners who received the tax incentive.  The tax breaks would apply only to projects exceeding $1 million and expire after 10 years. Owners would pay taxes on twice the assessed value of the property before any improvements are made. Peduto said that means the city would receive double the tax revenue on a property before any abatement takes effect. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 12/9/11]

 

“… but cutting the pensions for police.”

The article referenced does not indicate any legislation for which Peduto voted. The article referring to Peduto cited by the ad does not indicate what, if any, legislation Peduto supported that affected police pensions. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/25/05]

 

Peduto voted to cut his pay to fund other city departments.  Peduto voted for Resolution 2003-2224. The bill authorized and directed the Director of the Department of Personnel and Civil Service and the Controller of the City of Pittsburgh to establish a program in which city employees could voluntarily cause a 2% percent reduction in their salaries for the remaining pay periods for the remainder of 2003. [9/2/03, R 2003-2224, Passed 7-1]

                 

·       Peduto supported the bill after a conversation with a narcotics detective.  Peduto said during the debate on the resolution: “It was actually brought to my attention by a detective from the Narcotics Bureau when we were trying to come up with a way to save the 102 he said to me I would take a 10% decrease in my pay and I know a lot of my other officers would do the same and he asked me if I would look to see how much that would do and actually I met with Councilman Ricciardi about this about two weeks ago.  I know that there are people out there in the different units, not maybe the leadership of the units but the actual rank and file who are willing to do this to help their fellow employees.”  [Debate Transcript, 8/26/03]

“Peduto supported higher parking rates for us..”

Peduto supported LOWER parking rates. In the article cited by the ad, Peduto offered an amendment to set the city’s parking tax at 40 percent. The overall ordinance set the tax at 50 percent.  [Associated Press, 1/14/04]

“... but special lower parking rates for himself.”

The cited article does not state that Peduto “supported” lower Council parking rates.  From the cited article: “City councilmen such as Peduto and O'Connor, who left council in early 2003, get reimbursements for cell phone usage and cut-rate parking Downtown.”  [Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 4/30/05]

“And Peduto supported raising seniors property taxes.”

The cited legislation did not increase taxes.  From the cited article: “A court decision required the school district to lower its excess real estate revenues by $8.5 million, forcing the district to lower its tax rate by 0.7 mills in its preliminary $529.5 million budget, which was unveiled Nov. 12. But school officials last night adjusted that tax reduction to 0.61 mills after learning from city officials yesterday that about 800 city property assessments still have not been fully processed. By raising city government taxes, the city can capture its own $8.5 million to help fill the $42 million hole in Mayor Tom Murphy's 2004 budget proposal. "This is a swap, where council fills the vacuum," Udin said. "It's a swap. It's not raising city taxes," agreed councilman William Peduto. [Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 12/18/03]

 

“…but using other people’s money, including tax dollars, to take exotic trips.”

The vast majority of Peduto’s trip was not reimbursed by taxpayers.  From the cited article: “[Peduto] said the city will pay about $600 for airfare and one night in a hotel -- the only part of his travel plans he expects taxpayers to cover. Shortly after that, he'll take an 11-day trip to Turkey, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Dialogue Foundation, which fosters communication between cultures. That trip, which will take him from urban Istanbul to the cave warrens of Cappadocia, is about ‘tolerance and understanding,’ he said. ‘We'll be studying the cultural interaction between Christians, Muslims and Jews in five cities.’” [Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 6/5/08]

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