Wednesday, April 22, 2009

(AUDIO) -- Ravenstahl: "I did a pretty good job of not answering it, didn't I?"

Click to play

Q: "Mayor, the question I asked last night about --"

Mayor Ravenstahl: "Yeah, I did a pretty good job of not answering it, didn't I?" (Laughter)

That exchange between Mayor Ravenstahl and me Tuesday afternoon followed these unanswered e-mails I sent to both his campaign manager Paul McKrell and his government press secretary Joanna Doven:

From: Bob Mayo
Subject: Mayor's Daily Schedule
Date: April 21, 2009 9:28:41 AM EDT

This e-mail is to followup on my question during last night's debate.
Will the mayor make his daily schedule through election day public? If he will, how soon will that happen and how frequently will it be updated?


Bob Mayo

You can hear the rest of the exchange by clicking on the image above.

The mayor shifted attention from his daily schedule when he revealed he did two things: announced that he is now agreeing to restore a third televised debate with his opponents, and launched an attack on KDKA-TV for its handling of its postponement of the station's debate. The above audio clip includes those remarks, as well as his criticisms of his opponents and the rest of the news media on the topic.

Some key quotes from Mayor Ravenstahl, who says he learned of KDKA's cancellation from the Dowd campaign and then the PG website:

• "As far as I'm concerned, that was extremely unprofessional. It was an attempt to distort my position on debates and I was frustrated by that. Never have I not wanted to debate. I enjoyed last night's event."

• "While I was extremely unhappy with the way KDKA handled it, I guess I was more unhappy with my opponents and the media's distortion of my willingness to participate in debates. I have, I will, I want to, and so we will appear. I had discussions with KDKA, it looks like next Thursday will be an appropriate time for the debate. I don't think it's been finalized yet, but I did make room on my schedule next Thursday for that."

I crossed paths with Councilman Patrick Dowd minutes after the mayor's news conference. His reaction to Mayor Ravenstahl's decision:

• "I'm glad that he's caved in to the pressure here. I mean it's obvious that the public deserves to see candidates before them to answer questions. "

• "I think that obviously the mayor could spare the time and and he didn't want to do it. And so I'm glad to see that he's caved in to the pressure. There's been a lot of pressure, I know, and I'm glad he's caved."

Carmen Robinson responds via e-mail:

• "I am encouraged by his response and of course I will rearrange my schedule but again it is always on his terms. Since it is more important for the people of Pittsburgh to see more debates, I am more than willing to comply to his terms."

KDKA-TV acting news director Anne Linaberger told WTAE her station postponed its April 15 debate because of the deaths of three city police officers on April 4th. The newly arranged debate will be recorded on April 30th and broadcast on May 2nd.

(A closing note in answer to TRM: I did try to press Mayor Ravenstahl again during the debate to answer the question. As Dowd and Robinson were starting to respond, I spoke out, asking again "...releasing your schedule...?" I'm not sure if my microphone was turned down or if the shift to the other candidates drowned me out -- I was on the opposite side of the studio. As the candidates were speaking on camera, Andrew turned toward me and whispered "follow-up?" At that point, the debate was now running long: Jill and Sheldon's final questions were being cut; the candidate answers to my final question were being limited to 30 seconds. Closing statements were about to begin so that the broadcast would end on time. Given those constraints, I chose instead to take up the question again in the morning.)



Bram Reichbaum said...

So it's true politicians are known to "do a pretty good job" not answering certian uncomfortable questions, but he chose to do so by BLASTING kdka for something that by all rights should have been put to bed .... class act.

EdHeath said...

You know, not to take an additional cheap shot at you, but two years ago in the DeSantis/Ravenstahl debate you asked a question about the budget shortfall projected in the Mayor's five year budget plan, and he danced around the question, and neither you nor DeSantis followed up then. I will grant that the format might have been at fault, that we were new to this Mayor's debate style, and frankly it is really unlikely that one questioon would have turned the election around for DeSantis.

But we are now used to this Mayor's style of dealing with the press, and by extension, the people's right to know. Now, maybe any random Pittsburgher thinks the Mayor has saved the City, or is incapable of doing what it takes to get us out of our financial mess. But at this point we all ought to agree that our current Mayor only tells the truth and takes steps towards tranparency when forced to. So regradless of the (likely) outcome of the primary, we need to keep pressure on the Mayor to be more transparent.

Bob Mayo said...


I don't think your comment (or TRM's) is a cheap shot. This is all an interesting give-and-take, and I enjoy the conversation the Burghosphere provides for us.

I don't recall the details of that question from the 2007 debate. Of course, these are formatted debates in which I'm a panelist, and not the Bob Mayo Show. (I should insert a smiley-face here, but I can't bring myself to type an emoticon in a blog post.)

Mark Rauterkus said...

I use Google Calendar for my public schedule -- and if I was on council, mayor or whatever -- I'd use a public calendar for events that I'd be attending and beyond.

City hall has a google calendar. Ask and I'll give you permission to update the events so we can all share dates.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Will KDKA stream the debate live -- ro shortly after it happens -- the days before it hits the TV sets?

Hope so.

EdHeath said...

Well, I would be upset that you don't remember the details of that question since I think that Pittsburgh slipping back into deficit should have been hugely important and should have won the election for DeSantis (well, maybe), but … Act-47 act-II seems like it makes it all moot. The crucial questions now concern the State Legislature, who are the true masters of our City Overlords (I believe Mark likes to call them). Will the State Legislature instruct the Act-47 Team/ICA to order Pittsburgh to make additional cuts, to raise taxes, cancel its municipal pension, cancel the marathon, have the Mayor (whomever it is) parade up Grant Street nekid or what have you? Could the State Legislature express frustration with Pittsburgh and appoint an administrator to run the City?

Anyway, good job on the follow up this time. Like I said, that’s what all the journalists in the City need to do, even as we bloggers need to emphasize that the Mayor laughed at all of us, and how he didn’t answer a direct question.

Bob Mayo said...


To answer more accurately, I don't remember the *phrasing* of the question in the Ravensthal-DeSantis debate.... or the wording of the mayor's answer in 2007 that you found lacking. Of course I'm very familiar with the topic -- an updated version on that one is in my folder of questions I didn't get to ask on-air. I even checked with council finance chair Peduto for an update on the five-year-plan earlier Monday, after his news conference.

He says the city's five year projection now "flat lines" without dipping into red in the outer years. He says it does so by, among other things:
-anticipating the pay down of some long term obligations using those recently set-aside funds,
-making revenue and cost projections that may be optimistic.

It appears the result could keep the city out of the red by a couple of hundred thousand dollars (the equivalent of several employees combined annual pay.)


PS: I wish I had a forum to make use of those other questions I have in my folder. (I always over prepare for these things.) Perhaps I should scalp them to my esteemed colleagues on the upcoming panels?

Bram Reichbaum said...

I would like to know when we can anticipate The Bob Mayo Show will be a completed work.

Burgher Jon said...

I'm with Bram, politicians have to be able to dodge some questions. Maybe he has something personal that he'd like to keep to himself coming up. However, I think the questions been asked enough times that it's starting to get suspicious that he just keeps on dodging.

Infinonymous said...

I, too, vote for a Bob Mayo Show.

If we can navigate the logistics, it could be a regular feature of Infinonyvision.