Right choice for Ravenstahl: It's unfortunate, but the mayor helps by not running
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Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, in announcing that he won't seek re-election just 11 days after kicking off his campaign, made a decision that is good for Pittsburgh. It's a grim reality that this mayor can best serve his city by stepping aside, an indictment of his tenure.
Mr. Ravenstahl, who intends to serve out the rest of his term, began his press conference Friday by ticking off a list of positives -- the city averted bankruptcy, its population is increasing, more people are working and the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program will offer opportunities for future generations.
But the mayor cannot rightly claim credit for much of what took place during his nearly seven years in office any more than a weather forecaster can rightly take credit for a sunshiny day.
Luke Ravenstahl has never given the impression that he was leading efforts to improve the city. He has never articulated a broad vision for Pittsburgh's future. He has not been a hands-on, engaged mayor, involved in and aware of what is happening in his neighborhoods and institutions. He did not lead by example in exhibiting a strong work ethic, nor was he a formidable presence in pushing Pittsburgh's agenda in Harrisburg. He was too chummy with some local interests and failed to earn the respect of many business leaders.
Those problems were cemented in place long before his police department started drawing scrutiny in recent weeks over the processing of payments for off-duty security details and an off-the-books account within the department from which numerous police officials could draw funds.
Questions abound over the chaos, and possible illegalities, in his police department, which makes it troubling that the mayor still has the authority to select a successor to his longtime chief, Nate Harper. A short-term contract seems in order for whomever is chosen.
Another promise the mayor made is to back a candidate to succeed him in city hall, an endorsement that could be a blessing or a curse. Two men -- Controller Michael Lamb and Councilman Bill Peduto -- already are in the race, and more contenders are expected, given Mr. Ravenstahl's announcement.
It is time for Pittsburgh to look forward and focus on the candidates who will seek the office of mayor. Here's hoping they are up to the task in ways that Luke Ravenstahl never was.
First Published March 3, 2013 12:00 am