I try not to comment on politics in my former home town. But I can't let the recent editorial hit-job by the Post-Gazette on Councilman Bill Peduto's decision to leave the race for mayor slide. I am proud to call Bill my friend. But far beyond my personal feelings, he is far and away the finest policy thinker and political visionary in Pittsburgh I have come across. He has devoted his entire life to the community which he cares about deeply. He is a real force for change - a truly good man. I have not talked to him about his decision to leave the race, but I know how hard it must have been for him to give up his calling and dream. He has said he did not want to make the race go negative. I believe him. I am sure the political establishment was all over him to get out as well. The facts will come out over time, and I trust Bill to be honest about his reasons. For the Post-Gazette to attack this ultimately personal decision using the words and tone it does is just unconscionable. It is a case of squelching of the highest magnitude - a nasty, negative, despicable journalistic mugging. The paper's leadership and editorial board should be ashamed of themselves. They owe Bill and the entire city of Pittsburgh an apology.
Peduto's exit ... Pittsburgh loses in a case of no guts, no glory
Thursday, March 22, 2007Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the annals of political cowardice and failed responsibility, Councilman Bill Peduto's decision to quit the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor in the May 15 primary must rank very high.
Certainly, beating Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was never going to be easy, but that's not the point. This was a race that, even if pre-determined by a strong political tide, needed to be fought.
Pittsburgh needed this race to help define where it wants to go and which issues it counts as important. The youthful Mr. Ravenstahl also needed this race -- to temper his political steel in the cauldron of experience. While running, Mr. Peduto was doing the community a service that would be remembered even in defeat. By quitting, Mr. Peduto let more than his supporters down. He turned his back on the city, an act that will be recalled in shame.
Barring some later entry from an independent or a write-in candidate, Pittsburgh is left with no mayoral race at all. The Republicans, as hapless as ever in Pittsburgh, have no candidate for November. As far as Pittsburgh's most important office goes, democracy has been effectively suspended.
We are left with a neophyte mayor who got into office as a result of two accidents of fate -- the first political, when City Council could not agree on a president and elevated Mr. Ravenstahl as a compromise, and the second tragic, when Mayor Bob O'Connor fell victim to brain cancer and the new council president was elevated by virtue of his office.
Now no city resident will have the chance to pronounce on any of this for years -- and this at a moment when fresh evidence of Mr. Ravenstahl's youthful inexperience is also in the news (see below). To top it all, Mr. Peduto's excuse -- that he didn't want to divide a city still mourning Mayor O'Connor and that he was being forced to discuss his opponent's missteps -- treated Pittsburghers like children, not adult Americans who understand the democratic process, can deal with some division and might prefer it to this coronation.
If Mr. Peduto comes back as an independent, he now risks being seen as calculating and too clever by half. Voters know the old adage: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Yesterday, to his shame, Bill Peduto got the heck out.