Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Your Move" E-Mails Chatter

There's a lively discussion of the "Your Move" E-mails over on the Burgh Report.

Here's what I posted there in answer to some readers' questions about the authenticity of the e-mails and the positions of various council members.

The e-mails were not obtained from anyone who hacked into the city's or the Penguins' servers; that is to say, they came from a participant in the electronic conversation. The mayor's chief of staff confirmed the authenticity of the e-mails when I reviewed their contents with him by phone. That said, confirming that the e-mails were authentic doesn't mean that any one or all of the authors' e-mails are gospel. The authors are speaking their understanding of the facts, the law and of other parties' positions. They be correct or incorrect in their understanding on any given point.

When I interviewed Councilman Dowd on Wednesday, he told me that the first he heard about the banners was in a phone call from the mayor's chief of staff around eight Friday night, asking if he would support them. Dowd told me his response was to request more information--that he wasn't able to take a position either way without learning more. Dowd's quote didn't make it into the news that day because the focus was on trying to learn who was opposed, not who was neutral.

On that same Wednesday:
Councilman Kraus said that he had not taken a position on the banners and
Councilman Burgess said he was in support of finding a way to put them up.

Also on Wednesday:
Councilman Motznik said he supported putting up the banners, but insisted the mayor's office had never informed him of the proposal.
Councilman Deasy said he was in support of the banners.
I did not have the opportunity to ask Councilwomen Harris or Payne their positions.

In response to the comment by Anonymous 05/24/08 12:49 pm on the Burgh Report:
I never heard Mayor Ravenstahl say that "there was only one councilman who had issues".
On Wednesday said there were "a couple". On that same day, Councilmen Shields and Peduto said they were not opposed to putting the banners, and said they told the administration they would cooperate in supporting a way to do so legally.

On Thursday, the Mayor reaffirmed his claim that there were council members opposed to putting up the banners. He also said that he believed the public remarks by the council members on Wednesday showed that they were opposed. In that Thursday interview, for the first time I heard the mayor say that he wanted support from council to have been "unanimous". Also, for the first time he said that council would have had to repeal the moratorium on new billboards in Pittsburgh. A repeal of the moratorium was not discussed in the e-mails.

Moments later, other reporters and I sought responses from Shields and Peduto. They reaffirmed they hadn't opposed putting up the banners--and said they had recommended ways to do so in a meeting late Monday afternoon with members of the Ravenstahl administration.


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