Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Luke's town, we just happen to live in it.

There's been something of a minor blowup this week regarding Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's apparent need to pick a fight with Franco Harris regarding the Penn State scandal. And I thought, "wow, this is SO stupid, I have to write something about it." The first thing that occurred to me was to go back through the FTC Archives and pull up our previous items on the Boy Mayor for recapping purposes. Lo and behold, it appears we've never written about Pittsburgh's wonder boy chief executive, whom if you're unfamiliar, oscillates between acting like a 4-year-old girl and a 20-year-old boy. Before we get into his latest dust-up, here's a quick glance back at the highlights of the Ravenstahl administration:

  • In June of 2007, Luke crashed an event at Oakmont Country Club -- which is outside the city limits -- during the week of the U.S. Open to try and meet Tiger Woods. His vehement denials -- one of which involved him calling the WDVE Morning Show -- strain credulity.
  • A few months earlier, he flew to New York with Penguins owner Ron Burkle on Burkle's private jet, where the two had dinner and drinks. It wouldn't have been a huge deal had he not initially lied about it to, well, everyone.
  • Later that year, he borrowed a police SUV to drive to a Toby Keith concert. The police officer who reported the incident was initially reprimanded for doing so, and Luke defended himself by saying, "I understand I'm being held to a higher standard but at the same time I'm going to continue to be who I am, because that's the only way I know to be...But at the end of the day, I'm still going to continue to be who I'm going to be, and go to concerts like I always have, and go to have a drink with my wife in bars. That's what 27-year-olds do and I shouldn't be any different."
  • In 2008, he openly stated that he was seeking advice from the city's legal department on how he could go to the Stanley Cup Finals in Detroit without having to pay for it. He ultimately went in a city-owned car with a security attache that the city paid for.
  • Also that year, he "changed his name" the week the Steelers faced Baltimore in the AFC Championship, because he just couldn't bear the dishonor of having "Ravens" in his name. That week, he chose to go by Luke Steelerstahl. Those of you translating at home know that "stahl" is German for "steel," so he was, that week, our nation's most redundant mayor, Luke Steelersteel.
  • In 2009, as he was gearing up to seek re-election, he spent $252,000 of city money to replace 250 public trash cans with new ones that had his name on them. So if you're thinking about a monogrammed trash can for Christmas this year, you're looking at $1,010 -- that is, if you don't seek out any lower bids.
  • In February of 2010, when a massive shitstorm of snow was about to hit the city and everyone knew about it because it had been widely forecast as the giant fucking red cloud on the radar, Luke escaped into the mountains, presumably for some Caligula-style orgy, and left Pittsburgh to fend for itself. He lashed out at the press for daring to ask where he was when the city was buried under two feet of snow.
  • The rest of it is summed up pretty well, if not conservatively, in this recent PG editorial. If you'd like stories of Boy Mayor's security detail being the only line of defense between him and keg stands at W&J's Homecoming, or of the mayor being asked by restaurant management to "please stop dancing on the bar," just ask around; you don't have to look too far.
Now that you're caught up, onto the meaty goodness of the day. The Pittsburgh Promise is a foundation that provides college scholarships to graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools. Franco Harris, who we generally regard quite highly around here, serves as the chairman of the board for this foundation. At least, he did until today, when he announced he would step aside at the request of our dear mayor, who had some concerns about some of Franco's concerns. From the PG:

Franco Harris stepped aside temporarily as chairman of the Pittsburgh Promise board Thursday while expressing sadness that defending his former coach and mentor at Penn State University, Joe Paterno, was seen by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl as disregard for child sex abuse victims.

Mr. Harris, who played football under Mr. Paterno decades ago, said university trustees were wrong to fire the famed coach last week because Mr. Paterno did what he was legally required to do in 2002 by informing a superior about allegations that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in a campus shower.

So a guy who played for Joe Paterno 40 years ago likes him and wants to stick up for him. We shouldn't have a problem with that. Is it a great idea given where we are with this whole Penn State thing now? No. In fact, it's a terrible idea, and Franco should have kept his mouth shut. But to someone like Franco, who since he graduated has been busy winning chamionships and selling mineral-enriched donuts, we might do well to extend the courtesy of something between "you're just a dumb ex-football player" and "you probably have less an idea of what's going on than the 84-year-old Paterno."

How far down does the blame need to go? We can agree that raping children is wrong. We can agree that covering up child rape is wrong, I think. And while I count myself among the plurality who think that Joe Paterno knew, is complicit and needed to lose his job, he hasn't been charged with anything yet, and we don't know with any certainty what he knew or when he knew it. I might think Franco Harris is wrong, but to his credit, he's defending the friend and mentor he's known nearly his whole life.

Mr. Ravenstahl apparently chafed at that opinion.
"I had to re-read it several times to fully comprehend the callous disregard and indifference for the victims of sexual abuse at Penn State," he stated in the email sent Wednesday evening to the Promise board.

To be clear, here's what Franco said:
“I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go,” Harris said in a published report. “I’m very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time. They really wouldn’t give a reason. They’re linking the football program to the scandal and, possibly, the cover-up. That’s very disturbing to me. I think there should be no more connection to the football program, only in the case that it happened at the football building with an ex-coach. I’m still trying to find out who gave him access to the building, who signed that contract.”

For as blatantly naive and ignorant as that seems, there might be some merit to it. We've drawn a lot of conclusions about who is at fault for what over the last two weeks, and this story barely begun to unfurl. Right now, we actually know very little. Additionally, Franco's tone and invocation of courage here are indicative that this really does seem like a question of honor to him, and that we shouldn't all shit on Paterno until we know what's up. I'm okay making presumptions because I've never cared for the guy, but that doesn't make Franco any less right.

The question, however, of whether or not he needed to lose his job is not up for debate. He had to lose his job. Back to Mayor Dudeface and his righteous indignation:

"When I personally asked you to join the Board of the Pittsburgh Promise,"

It was ME! I asked you! Personally! I didn't send one of the twentysomething models who work in my office because I wanted to meet you personally! And have you sign my football, PERSONALLY!

"I had every confidence that you would exercise sound judgment in your public life. Sadly, these statements show no regard whatsoever for the well-being of the young victims of sexual abuse and have led me to question your position of trust with the Pittsburgh Promise as Board Chairman.

AND NO, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU REFUSING TO COME PLAY MADDEN WITH ME IN MY SECRET MAYOR CAVE. This is all about the victims or something, and we are totally not sharing a limo to homecoming now!

"It is my ethical and moral responsibility to recognize that you are no longer a suitable representative for any organization, let alone ours."

My favorite is the last one because he looks like a kid lost in the department store clothing racks while Dan Onorato does businessy, adult things.

Here's Dante's Inferno, according to Mayor Dudeface:
1st circle: Philadelphia Flyers
2nd circle: Philadelphia Flyers fans
3rd circle: al-Qaeda
4th circle: Cleveland Browns
5th circle: District 8 City Councilman Bill Peduto
6th circle: Child rapists
7th circle: People who probably covered up child rape
8th circle: Hitler/local news media
9th circle: People who are friends with people who probably covered up child rape

Mr. Harris said neither the mayor nor his staff contacted him before sending the email.
Mr. Harris said he has attempted to "place the victims and their families at the forefront of my concerns while questioning the seeming rush to judgment in the treatment of Joe, who I know is deeply pained and distraught by events now under investigation at Penn State."

The mayor said he e-mailed Franco, but that "it must not have gone through."

Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, which provides college scholarships to graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools, said Mr. Harris will remain on the board as a full voting member. The Promise board, meeting for several hours Thursday night, will meet again in the next few days to further discuss the matter.

"However, we did affirm without hesitation Franco's integrity, Franco's character and his clear and evident lifetime of service to children," Mr. Ghubril said.

You have to love that PG did manage to find one reasonable person to quote in this story, which is bordering on metastupid.

1 comment:

ted said...

Thank you for outlining the timeline of stupid that has defined Mayor Dudeface's (HA!) tenure in office.

I am henceforth using this as an introductory primer when people don't understand why I can't stand the guy.