With the arrival Tuesday of the primary election, we reach into the MMMM (Mythological Morningfile Mayoral Mailbag) to answer a few letters about the major race of interest in Pittsburgh:
Q: Everyone seems to get on Luke Ravenstahl's case -- the media, council members, federal investigators, etc -- but I am such a big fan of all his achievements, like his youthfulness and the way he doesn't show up at every big calamity that strikes the city to try to hog the spotlight. Is it OK if I vote for him even though he's no longer running for re-election?
A: You're free to vote for him as a write-in candidate, but he wouldn't encourage it since the only day he has been happy on the job in six-plus years is the day he announced he no longer wanted it. Based on recent media reports, you should probably prepare for a call from investigators wanting to ask about your interest in voting for him and whether you received anything in return.
Q: Bill Peduto might be the kind of good government reformer who would bring some fresh air to Pittsburgh's political arena, but I am concerned about these allegations that he doesn't get along with others. I can't take my own son to any play dates because the other moms all say he doesn't play well with others either. Do you think my son and Bill Peduto could entertain one another in the mayor's office if no one else wants to be their friends?
A: It's not that Bill Peduto doesn't have any friends -- it's just that he doesn't seem to have any who hold different views from his. He has many pals among East End liberals, so if your son can lay claim to being one of those, they should get along fine. If he's your average Pittsburgh yinzer, on the other hand, don't expect to get him and Mr. Peduto together for a play date, or especially not for a work date.
Q: Jack Wagner? Really, in 2013? Didn't my great-grandfather, grandmother and parents already have a chance to elect him mayor and turn him down? Aren't there any younger, fresher Wagners who can run for mayor instead of having a "Back to the Future" election?
A: His niece, Chelsa Wagner, has been a successful local politician, but she's busy as Allegheny County controller and has to wait her turn. That leaves Jack as the YAW (youngest available Wagner), even though he's been running for elected office in Pittsburgh since the time when Terry Bradshaw was quarterbacking the Steelers. That doesn't make him old though, just experienced -- the way Mr. Bradshaw's experience would undoubtedly come in handy if the Steelers employed him as a quarterback this year.
Q: How come Pittsburgh has never had a black mayor, unlike most every other major Northeastern or Midwestern city? Wouldn't that earn us some nice street cred? We don't need another middle-aged white man running things in this town, so is it OK if I vote for A.J. Richardson even though he has no public record?
A: It's not quite fair to say Mr. Richardson has no public record, considering his bizarre recent DUI arrest, though that may not be the kind of public record you're looking for. You do have a more sober choice of African-American in state Rep. Jake Wheatley, but he has the same glaring weaknesses as the August Wilson Center Downtown -- a shortage of funds, a lack of support from white people and you almost never see him putting on any August Wilson plays.
Q: Why isn't Sophie Masloff running again -- she was the best mayor ever, and so far ahead of her time. What's up, anyway, with her idea of building a beautiful, intimate, baseball-only ballpark for the Pirates to play in? I'd love to take my kids to a place like that, so long as it had fireworks frequently and races involving a side dish of some sort -- maybe apple sauce or couscous.
A: People may forget that Ms. Masloff (perhaps a tad old even by Pittsburgh standards to campaign again at age 95) was ridiculed in 1991 when she was the first public official to embrace a project similar to PNC Park, which opened a decade later. She was rejected in both that idea and her desire to play shortstop for the Pirates after leaving office, but she had the last laugh concerning both, considering her batting average would have been higher than most shortstops since then.
Gary Rotstein: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1255.