Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mayor Drops Dem Convention -- Ford Controversy Brings Him Home

Adapted from my 5:00 PM Channel 4 Action News report

Through the day, the office of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has been keeping his exact whereabouts a mystery. We do know he's no longer in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. The mayor rushed back to Pittsburgh early for private meetings dealing with the fallout from the controversial resignation of a former member of his inner circle, Pat Ford, and the accusations included in Ford's resignation letter.

Pittsburgh Democrats in Denver we spoke with say Mayor Ravenstahl wasn't in their sight for Joe Biden's vice-presidential acceptance speech or Bill Clinton's rallying of the convention faithful. The mayor was long gone when Biden met the Pennsylvania delegation today and tried to hail Ravenstahl by name.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review provided Channel 4 Action News with audio from Biden's remarks:

"To the Mayor of Pittsburgh: Luke I warned you. The job's too tough. I don't know why anybody would want to be a mayor. Like I tell you, you guys are crazy. They know where you live."

We now know that URA Executive Director Pat Ford's resignation-- in which Ford attacked the Ravenstahl administration -- is the reason why. Both Ford and his attorney Lawrence Fisher claim the administration has "a culture of corruption that Mr. Ford wants nothing to do with."

The mayor's Acting Press Secretary Joanna Doven first told reporters that she believed claims Ravenstahl returned to Pittsburgh last night were incorrect* -- that if it were true, Chief of Staff Yarone Zober would have told her in their phone conversation this morning.

Later Doven was able to confirm Ravenstahl did scrap his convention delegate duties and fly back from Denver to Pittsburgh last night -- and that Chief of Staff Zober was back too. She confirms the mayor spent all day in private meetings away from his office, dealing with the Ford resignation. She was unable to identify who else was taking part in the meetings.

At 2:00 PM Doven told reporters that Ravenstahl was staying away from his office for the entire day and will not answer reporter questions on the Ford matter today.

For now, the mayor's office can't say when Ravenstahl will resurface to answer reporters questions or whether the mayor will attend the Obama-Biden rally in western Pennsylvania tomorrow.

* [I initially reported that Doven said the claims were "false". She corrected me that her actual wording was that she believed them to be "incorrect" and that she then checked and learned otherwise.]


No comments: