Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An Allegedly Pro-Ravenstahl Blog

The most recent post on the Post-Gazette's Early Returns blog contains a link to what many hold to be the only example of a local blog that largely backs incumbent Interim Mayor Luke "Flip Flop" Ravenstahl. Their nod goes to Pittsburgh Jack's Place, which has appeared on my blog roll for quite some time now. The degree to which Pittsburgh Jack truly supports Master Ravenstahl, especially now, remains -- to my mind, at least -- somewhat unclear. But there can be no doubt that, at one point in early January 2007, he did feel some real warmth towards the interim mayor. One post in particular is commonly citied as high-water mark in Pittsburgh Jack's support for Master Ravenstahl:

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl deserves credit for injecting fresh ideas into his gameplan. It's refreshing to see some real action for a change. Instead of conducting study after endless study and commissioning report after report, seemingly without anything new or real ever getting done -- something that used to be the norm here in Western Pennsylvania -- our mayor is moving forward and we are seeing some new ideas being put to the test. Luke is actually walking the walk, not just talking the talk. This, my friends, is one of the greatest benefits to having a young visionary in the mayor's office. And why Ravenstahl deserves our support in the May primary election. Pittsburgh needs to keep the Ravenstahl ball rolling.
This statement certainly seems to provide an unambiguous endorsement of the incumbent interim mayor. It even contains a not-so-subtle swipe at Master Ravenstahl's sole opponent for the Democratic Mayoral nomination, City Councilmember William Peduto, who -- as I and many others have noted -- seems to love nothing better than a new blue-ribbon research report on municipal minutuea.

Despite this clear message of support, it's still seems rather unfair shove Pittsburgh Jack too firmly into a "pro-Ravenstahl" pigeon hole. He has not refrained from offering criticism of Master Ravenstahl, as this post, which the author penned in response to something which had appeared right here at The People's Republic, demonstrates:
... it is my belief that Mayor Ravenstahl should have offered a transfer at some point to Zober, Regan, Cassidy and Lynch from his staff into other appropriate positions within city government and made appointments of his own of trusted confidants to his staff. It is important for Luke to forge his own administration -- it has to be done sooner or later. Especially since most of the negativity surrounding his administration involves scandal involving some of these player's actions prior to him even taking the oath of office.

I applaud Luke Ravenstahl for his dedication to this city and to his determination to enact some of Mayor O'Connor's principles into his administration. But this can be done without retaining O'Connor's staff in their current positions. Luke's decision to do so is proving to be a detriment and is threatening to overshadow any positive undertakings of his administration. The mayoral staff should not be the news story. Especially when the primary election is just a couple of months away.
If you read through all of the content on his weblog, Pittsburgh Jack comes across as a somewhat conservative guy. He has railed against things such as the city firefighter's union and the current presidential bid by Hillary Clinton. It's at least somewhat possible that, over time, he will decide that his views fall better into line with those of Bill Peduto that those of Luke Ravenstahl.

But while his support for Interim Mayor Ravenstahl may not be quite as strong as some have suggested, that's not the biggest reason why I presonally would hesitate to point to Pittsburgh Jack's Place as the prime example of a pro-Ravenstahl blog. The biggest flaw with relying on this blog to take up the Ravenstahl banner within the burghosphere is that it is so inconsitently updated. Pittsburgh Jack's Place began more than two years ago, in October of 2004. The author managed to maintain his interest in city politics for a period of just 25 days, leading to about a dozen or so posts. He then simply dropped off the face of the earth, and didn't resurface until just last month. Then came a flury of posts over a period of about five weeks, covering a variety of topics, followed by yet another long stretch of disturbing silence. At the time of this writing, Pittsburgh Jack's Place has not been updated for 17 days. That's something like a decade in blog years.

Even the yawn-inducing Peduto campaign web site is getting updated more frequently than Pittsburgh Jack's Place, and that's certainly far from a favorable comparison.

I don't mean this as a criticism in any way. Anyone who has tried to do this blogging thing knows that inspiration comes and goes over time, and that real life can intervene in ways that make writing posts simply unthinkable. I've certainly been there, and I would never criticize anyone for taking an extended break from the burghosphere. But if Pittsburgh Jack's Place is going to be held up as the standard-bearer for Luke Ravenstahl among local political blogs, I'm afraid that a lot of people are going to walk away sorely disappointed.

I have no doubt that Pittsburgh Jack has his own reasons for walking away from the burghopshere at this critical time. But if he truly is as pro-Ravenstahl as other people believe him to be, it may also be the case that sustaining that position would require a great deal of effort from any blogger. As Maria from 2 Political Junkies wrote in a comment over at The Burgh Report:
It takes time, thought and passion to keep a blog going. In all the pro Luke comments that I've ever seen, I don't think that I've ever seen one that passionately explains why they actually like Luke. At best, they are either of the "give him a chance" variety or they tear down Peduto or the blogger who wrote the original post.

It's hard to be passionate about mediocrity.
I'm not sure why the man has disappeared at the moment. But I truly hope that Pittsburgh Jack will find his way back into blogging sometime soon. I've missed reading his stuff, and I have missed the alternate perspective that he brought to what can be a bit of a one-note-song within the burghosphere. His commentary can be interesting and unpredictable, and I like that. I especially would like to know how his opinions have evolved (or not) on the mayoral race. But if the past is prologue, then it seems quite likely that we will have to get through this election season without anything new from him.

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