Pittsburgh: As The Yinzer Turns

Did Pittsburgh become Chicago while I was sleeping?

Luke Ravenstahl

Luke Ravenstahl

If you’ve watched what’s transpired in Pittsburgh over the last few weeks, it certainly seems so.

Increasing political conflict in city offices, and the firing of the police chief, led to a surprise announcement this morning from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl that he would not seek reelection.

That announcement may not sound significant on its own.

But it’s a culmination of months of unanswered questions swirling around city offices, and around the mayor himself. And even before this latest scandal, Ravenstahl’s actions – and inactions – fed accusations and rumors about his professional and personal life.

Pittsburgh’s made some huge strides forward into the 21st century.

Will the next Mayor help nudge that progress along – or will they embrace the traditionalism that Pittsburgh is known for?

The firing of Police Chief Nate Harper, and the financial discrepancies discovered in that investigation, tainted Ravenstahl’s reputation, and led to questions about what he knew and when. (For more details on the timeline of the scandal, and what Harper is accused of doing, click here.)

This is a definite surprise for Pittsburgh, which has rarely seen a true political scandal with such a range of allegations. It’s also a sad denouement for Ravenstahl, the ‘boy wonder’ mayor who was, at 26, the youngest mayor when he assumed the office. (As city council president, he succeeded Bob O’Connor after O’Connor’s death in office.)

I’m hoping Pittsburgh can avoid ‘politics as usual’ and take this opportunity to think about the goals for the future – and then vote accordingly in November, when Ravenstahl’s replacement will be elected.

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