Having announced on March 1 that he will not seek re-election amid a scandal that led to the indictment of his police chief, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is sleepwalking through the rest of his term with scant effort to do something useful. He's evidently more interested in settling old scores.
As the Post-Gazette reported Wednesday, paperwork that KDKA-TV filed with the Federal Communications Commission revealed that the head of a murky committee behind a TV attack ad aimed at mayoral candidate and Councilman Bill Peduto was the mayor, his longtime foe.
It is not unusual for outgoing mayors to want to influence the race for who is going to replace them as a way to protect their legacies. But Mr. Ravenstahl will leave with no distinguished record worth protecting and this episode illustrates why.
What should make this ad particularly galling to Democrats is that it was produced by the same Republican media outfit that was behind the appalling ads for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," which attacked Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004, blackening the military record of a candidate who fought in Vietnam for the benefit of a president who didn't.
This should particularly concern former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, who is a distinguished Vietnam veteran himself. Mr. Wagner has distanced himself from the ad, and that's a good thing. The war of words between the mayor and the councilman does nothing to focus attention on the needs and future of the city.
Residents of Pittsburgh deserve better from a campaign that is likely to produce its next mayor, but as the grown-ups struggle to be mature, the person at the center of this fuss grows more petulant. After not responding to a Post-Gazette inquiry, Mr. Ravensthal took the unprecedented step of posting a comment on an early version of the story on the newspaper's website.
It was not that he spoke out -- his reaction had been sought -- but it was how he went about it. While we won't dignify his self-indulgent rant by repeating his alleged points, it was -- in the words of local blogger Virginia Montanez -- like a "whining 14-year-old." Hand that boy a juice box, he just confirmed the cartoon caricature.
It's bad enough that the public is paying Mr. Ravenstahl's salary to play a municipal version of "Where's Waldo?" Could he not at least behave with a little dignity?