For more than a month, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has remained out of the public eye, marking one of many similar long stretches during his last year in office.
During that time, his staff has declined to give specifics about his engagement in city business, saying only that "he continues to make daily decisions about City business and is very much engaged with those in his administration."
But Wednesday, at a news conference marking the completion of a high-end development in the South Side, the mayor announced the start of an aggressive public relations campaign to remind the public of his accomplishments over the past seven years. His office also unfurled a new Web page on the city's website dedicated to that purpose, titled "Mayor Ravenstahl's Seven Years of Successes."
"I think it's important that we spend our remaining time in office reminding people of the body of work that we've completed as an administration," he said after the news conference. "If you look at what we've done to balance the budget, to keep crime low, to send kids to college through the Pittsburgh Promise, I'm really proud of our administration."
His efforts, he hopes, will help mold his legacy in the aftermath of the most tumultuous year of his administration -- marked by the resignation and federal indictment of former police Chief Nate Harper. On March 1, he announced he would not run for office, citing the personal toll the office had taken on him.
And since at least early May, federal investigators have homed in on his office. Three police officers who served as the mayor's bodyguards during his tenure were called before the grand jury to testify, along with his personal secretary, his chief of staff, a female acquaintance and a woman who once dated the mayor. On Wednesday, acting police Chief Regina McDonald and Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson also were called before the grand jury.
Mr. Ravenstahl maintained that he had "done nothing wrong" and that the investigation would bear that out in the end. And he also said it had not affected his work.
"I wish it weren't happening. It's outside my control," he said. "What is in our control is continuing to ensure that residents receive the level of services that they're accustomed to and from my perspective, that's happening."
Also Wednesday, on his new Web page, Mr. Ravenstahl used the South Side event to tout other accomplishments nearby, citing his investment in the lower McArdle Bridge and the development of the South Shore Riverfront Park and Amphitheater. The news conference announced the completion of the Windom Hill Place, a series of palatial rowhomes with sweeping views of the city. The development was achieved in part by a land swap with the city.
He also said he's involved in the day-to-day operation of the city, but has repeatedly declined to provide specifics. Department heads have described him in the past as a "hands off" administrator.
"The trash continues to get picked up. Folks in city government continue to do their jobs, and I haven't personally received very many complaints at all in this regard," he said.
He said the recent transition period has meant that fewer people are approaching him about long-term projects and that he has fewer obligations.
"I think it's important to note that the nature of transition is that the outgoing mayor or governor or president doesn't have as many obligations as he or she once did," he said.
But the mayor is still receiving invitations to public events. He was asked to participate in a Pirates playoff rally hosted in Market Square on Sept. 30, but did not show. He did, however, appear at the wild card playoff game against the Cincinnati Reds on Oct. 1, where he sat in the luxury box that belongs to the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority.
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published October 16, 2013 7:40 AM