UPDATE: Click the image above to hear the Q&A from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's news conference on the Club Pittsburgh controversy.
Mayor Ravenstahl says political contributions by the owners of Club Pittsburgh were not behind the way the city resolved a zoning cease-and-desist order against alleged sex-related activity at the Strip District business. The club first made headlines this week when a man was found dead in one of the its rentable private rooms. The current wave of reporting is not about the death of 31-year-old Cleophus Pettway, however. Local news organizations have had ongoing coverage examining how the city deals with politically connected businesses, with reporting by The Post-Gazette's Rich Lord breaking new ground on this topic several times over the past year. Lord's story today put's a finer point on information revealed during the mayor's news conference: city officials did not inspect the inside of Club Pittsburgh to follow up on the alleged code violations, but relied solely on the assurances that it was now in compliance.
I managed to get a comment directly from one of the club owners on Wednesday. When I reached Peter Karlovich by phone shortly before 12:30 PM, he told me he's:
• "Very saddened that somone died at the club."
• "Particularly disgusted that the news media is focusing on paperwork and not on a man's death."
• He also said "this is being used as an attack on the mayor and is clearly and transparently an attack on the mayor."
Mr. Karlovich has also joined in the discussion in the comments section at Sue Kerr's blog, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents.
You can watch video of my Channel 4 Action News report at this link.
Here are some breakout quotes from Q&A with newsmakers about this story:
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:
• "Every contributor that has ever given money to me is not given preferential treatment. and the story line that continues is unfortunate."
• "Every contributor that gives to us should not be scrutinized or penalized for the fact that they give money. they give money based on their first amendment right."
Council President Doug Shields:
• "I'm not buying this 'well the lawyers dealt with this'. Lawyers go back and talk to people that tell them to talk to people, and these things don't happen in a vacuum."
• "Both property owners, for good or for bad, were done a disservice by the actions taken by the administration."