Motznik fires back in battle of the blogs

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City Councilman Jim Motznik is blogging, and Pittsburgh politics is a more perilous place.

The outspoken Overbrook Democrat yesterday waded into the world of Web blogging, in which a commentator posts thoughts and images online, usually unedited. Blogging started about six years ago.

His move raises the question of whether the burgeoning blogosphere, already the scene of vitriolic commentary and rumor circulation, will become a tool of hand-to-hand political combat.

His first targets, in posts made yesterday, were Councilman William Peduto and local blogger John McIntire. But Mr. Motznik stressed that no political topic would be off limits.

"I'm going to keep doing it whenever I need to set the record straight," he said. Mr. Motznik's first post blames Mr. Peduto, a mayoral challenger, for a Jan. 18 blog entry by Mr. McIntire, a former talk show host. That entry noted that some "versions" of a widely circulating story had Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (then a councilman) pushing a police officer in 2005, then getting off the hook thanks to intervention by former city Operations Director Dennis Regan.

After that blog post, Mr. Ravenstahl described the Oct. 31, 2005, Heinz Field incident as an argument with an officer, in which he was handcuffed, but not arrested or charged. He denied pushing the officer or involving Mr. Regan.

Mr. Motznik writes in his blog that "it seems like McIntire was led astray by Councilman Peduto. ... Boy, it must suck when you have such little credibility already and now you have Peduto, and his people, feeding you false information that you then post on the [I]nternet."

"As Jim knows," said Mr. Peduto, "everyone in city hall knew of the Heinz Field altercation in October" when an anonymous fax containing some allegations hit many desks. "I had nothing to do with that."

Mr. McIntire said Mr. Peduto had "absolutely, positively, unequivocally no" role in his posting -- then took some shots at his new blogging colleague.

"Anyone with half a brain realizes that he has zero credibility," said Mr. McIntire. "Jim Motznik is the most comical, two-bit clown hack poor excuse for a councilman in the history of politics."

Mr. Motznik is one of the least reserved local politicians in more than a decade. In September, when council chose Doug Shields as its president, he questioned the intelligence of colleagues. In 2003, he wore sewer boots in Council Chamber to protest a budget he called "a bunch of crap."

The photo of his boot-clad feet is the symbol of his blog, which can be viewed at motznikspeaksout.blogspot.com.

Another early topic of his blog is Mr. Peduto's alliance with Brighton Heights ward chairman Ben Woods, a councilman until his 1989 corruption conviction. "This great reformer is sleeping with Ben Woods, who is a convicted felon," Mr. Motznik said.

Mr. Peduto said that Mr. Woods has supported many candidates, including the late Mayor Bob O'Connor, and that it "is part of the progressive agenda to be forgiving and offer people a second chance."

Mr. Peduto said he'll launch a campaign blog within a week or two.

Mr. Motznik said he won't be fighting political sewage with sewage.

"No one's going to use my site to promote their wants and needs because they aren't brave enough to do it themselves," said Mr. Motznik, a mayoral ally. "This is going to be pure Jim Motznik."

Mr. Motznik stressed he would be blogging on his own time, not while he's working for the city.


Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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