Thursday, March 15, 2007

Controversy Over Mayor Ravenstahl's Online Presence (Updated)

Whose Space?

(There's updated blog content later in this entry. )

It's been buzzing-about in the burghosphere for the past 48 hours, here, here, and here, for example. Some people are raising questions about what appears to be cross-pollination between the content of "Luke For Mayor" website and the official city website and photo gallery. Now the examples are quickly being removed.

The PG's Early Returns appears to be be the first of us in the mainstream media to publicly note it, albeit online. (Update 1: I stand corrected: The Trib has it here, and in the print edition. ) I've been tracking this, but the arena news of the past two days had taken precedence. My screenshot below is one example.

(Click on photo to enlarge.)


Here are some items gathered for this story which didn't make it into my Channel 4 Action News report, due to time constraints. (Video link here).

Quotes from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:

• "I shared those concerns, and made sure when I was made aware of it that that wasn't the case. And any questionable photos--from what I understand--that were on the campaign web site have been removed."

Q: Did he or the city provide the photos to the campaign?

• "No, absolutely not. And I'm not sure if they were the identical photos. Once again, we and I have stressed again this morning that (there should be) absolutely no interaction between government office and campaign-- made sure that that didn't happen, and it hasn't happened, and it will not happen in the future."

• "(I) made sure that it was handled right away. Certainly it's not something that I will condone, and (it's )something that unfortunately happened, and we dealt with it and moved on."

Quotes from Councilman Bill Peduto:

• "There are rules that you have to play by, and certainly there's a lot of powers in the incumbency, without really reaching into the wallets of taxpayers in order to fund your campaign."

• " seems to be a little bit of an abuse of power."

Q: Does the list of his "priorities for a new Pittsburgh" on his city council website amount to political content at taxpayer expense? He answers that the list dates back to early 2006, long before the current political campaign.

• "No, it's a message of here's 'why you elected me, here's what i'm going to fight for, here's what you hold me accountable for'."


• One of the sequence of photos on the city government home page shows the mayor marching in a parade in front of a banner with a blue-and-white logo that reads " Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor". (You can see it at the top of this blog post.) The same distinctive blue-and-white logo appears on signs posted in his campaign headquarters' window.


Mark Rauterkus said...

Suggestion: Go to the archives of the station and pull the TV ad of Tom Murphy doing his endorsement of Gov. Ed Rendell from witin the Mayor's office.

This was either in the Rendell primary, but I think it was a fall general election race.

That was unethical too. It concerned using the office's weight and backdrop in a visual.

Nobody (beyond me and a few others) said anything. Even Peduto didn't complain.

The mayor's office got away with things in the past. Now the bloggers have more weight and are making a bigger impact. THAT is huge.

Where is the Pgh Ethics Review Board too?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Finally, there is STILL NOT A VIDEO policy from the City Planning Dept. They've talked about this issue in at least 4 recent meetings. It will be on the agenda again for the fifth (at least) time in the next meeting.

Call city planning and tell them you'll show up with a camera.

Others can show up with their cameras too.

Maria said...

It's unbelievable to me that they have still kept up the image of Luke with his hands on his hips (it's on most or all of the pages).

This image is still on city billboards and literature.

I'm guessing that their excuse is that that photo was donated to Luke personally, but I don't know the answer as neither the P-G or Early Returns makes it clear how Luke's Camp thinks that they can justify its use on his campaign website.

EdHeath said...

So the wee picture of of the Mayor with a crossing guard has been removed from the campaign web site. When does the Giant Luke with arms on hips come down? It is on city-financed billboards, yes? And on city mailings?

Anonymous said...

Good job on the report Bob.

rico said...

Bob, Do you really think most voters think this is a big deal? Don't be sucked in by the rants online by the same 15 people. Lets get into the real stuff that affect peoples lives.

Frank said...

The front page of Luke's campaign site still has a photo taken from the city's web site. I've taken the liberty of uploading a comparison here:

The city version of the photo can be found here:

What makes it funny is that those 2 people are apparently Wilkinsburg employees. Furthermore, if you look at the campaign site, someone photoshopped a shadow on the guy's raincoat of the mayor's arm into the photo to make it look like those people were standing there. Do they think they can erase people from a photo and no one will be able to tell the difference?

Anonymous said...

That's right, Bob.

Nothing to see here.

No one cares about this stuff anyway - hey isn't our Mayor dreamy?

Matt H said...

Great post Rico.

Anonymous said...

Great report.

I happen to believe that breaking the law is a big deal. People like Rico (just like R.I.C.O, how ironic?) call every Ravenstahl mistake and violation a "non-issue."

If people like Bob don't make sure they follow the rules, then they'll move on to even worse violations.

Maria said...

A great reporter asks the right questions -- your Pittsburgh Channel report (linked to in your update) answered a lot of questions left hanging by other news sources.


Anonymous said...

Pop City media has an article today about Allegheny County lauching a new website, Luke and Dan are featured in one of the pictures. The county website was designed by ZEO Technologies. is registered to ZEO technologies too.

Anonymous said...

You have to understand all this bad press about Mayor Ravenstahl is because he is a young mayor. The New York trip who cares why he went he's 26 years old and to fly to New York for a good time is his business. I don't think enough people give him kudos for taking over after the late Bob O'Connor. I think for his age he is doing a very good job being mayor. He's not going to be perfect but he has stuck to O'Connor's agenda very well. In the mayoral election I would vote for him before I would vote for any more of the candidates.