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Rick 'Who?'

| Sunday, May 22, 2011

To say things have gotten a bit frosty between Rick Santorum and John McCain over torture's effectiveness in obtaining reliable information would be an understatement.

Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, accused McCain of not understanding how "enhanced interrogation" works. This came after the GOP U.S. senator from Arizona said torture didn't lead to the intelligence that helped a U.S. Navy SEAL team to permanently dispatch Osama bin Laden .

This is the same McCain who was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques while serving our country in Vietnam. We bet he knows a thing or two about the topic of torture.

So the response that McCain spokesperson Brooke Buchanan gave The Washington Post when the paper asked for comment on Santorum's remarks is understandable.

Buchanan e-mailed one word to The Post: "Who?"

PRIMARY BODES ILL FOR LUKE IN 2013. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl 's unsuccessful attempt to install several political allies on Pittsburgh City Council has sparked Grant Street speculation about his future.

Some political observers believe Ravenstahl might be vulnerable in his 2013 re-election bid because he failed miserably in trying to pack council with his buddies.

Ravenstahl financially supported candidates opposing council incumbents Darlene Harris , Patrick Dowd and Bruce Kraus , all of whom were victorious in Tuesday's Democrat primary. The only Ravenstahl ally to win was Councilman Ricky Burgess .

The most prominent names circulating as potential challengers to the Lukester are city Controller Michael Lamb and Jack Wagner , who is prevented by law from seeking another term next year as state auditor general.

Wagner ran for mayor in 1993 and was defeated in the Democrat primary by Tom Murphy . Safe to say the city's recent history would have been altered dramatically had that race turned out differently.

CONTRASTING BEHAVIOR. High energy versus low profile -- those were the differing approaches Allegheny County chief executive nominees D. Raja and Rich Fitzgerald took the day after each won his party's nomination.

Republican nominee Raja arrived at his campaign headquarters at 8 a.m., despite being out late the night before while celebrating his win over former county Councilman Chuck McCullough . Raja made himself available to the media, then began plotting his fall campaign.

Fitzgerald was nowhere to be found. After defeating county Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty , the Democrat nominee decided to take the day off.

We wonder if their vastly different approaches provided an insightful glimpse into how each would approach the executive position.

BACK TO THE FUTURE• We're not suggesting it's likely. But the potential certainly exists for outgoing Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields to revisit his roots.

Shields didn't run for re-election to council so he could pursue the Democrat nomination for an East End magisterial district judgeship that Hugh McGough captured on Tuesday. So unless he opts to retire, Shields will need a job come January.

Might he consider going to work for Corey O'Connor , his presumptive successor on council• After all, Shields once worked as a council aide to Corey's father, the late Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor -- and the job probably would beat going back to being a paralegal, another job Shields has done in the past.

IN A 'BURGH BATHROOM. When we learned that the International Monetary Fund's now-former managing director had been arrested for attempted rape, we naturally wondered whether he'd ever gotten into an argument in a Pittsburgh restroom.

The New York Times provided the answer.

In an article on the legal problems facing Dominique Strauss-Kahn , The Times recounted his men's-room confrontation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009.

Sarkozy long had been rumored to be collecting personal information on Strauss-Kahn in case Strauss-Kahn decided to challenge him for the presidency. Strauss-Kahn apparently reached his boiling point in that bathroom.

"I've had more than enough about this continued gossip about my private life and about supposed dossiers and photos that could come out against me," he supposedly told Sarkozy. "Tell your guys to stop or I'll go to the courts."

How could The Times have accurately quoted Strauss-Kahn• The paper apparently must have had a reporter loitering uncomfortably close to the action -- perhaps in a nearby stall.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS. More than a few Westmoreland County political junkies got a chuckle last week from a photograph taken by the Trib's Brian Henry during Democrat county commissioner candidate Gerald Lucia's primary-night party at Rizzo's Malabar Inn in Crabtree.

There was Republican Bob Regola of Hempfield, a former Democrat and state senator, helping tally the numbers for Lucia, 65, the Mt. Pleasant mayor and fire chief.

Also supporting Lucia is one of Regola's political enemies: incumbent Democrat Commissioner Tom Balya .

For the record, Lucia has been a longtime supporter of Regola.

TARGET: KOPAS . Westmoreland County Republican Chairwoman Elaine Gowaty left little doubt about the GOP committee's target in the general election in November, no matter whether Gerald Lucia or South Greensburg Councilwoman Linda Iezzi officially wins the second Democrat nomination for commissioner.

Incumbent Republican Commissioner Chuck Anderson and political newcomer Tyler Courtney will aim their barbs at Democrat incumbent Ted Kopas .

"Ted Kopas has been part of the failed administration of our county government. While serving as (commissioner) Tom Balya's chief of staff and during his time as commissioner, Ted Kopas has fought for the status quo, standing against commonsense reforms in county government," Gowaty said.

Kopas responded: "I'm flattered to be her target. What to expect from a party hack?"

REVERSAL. To the disgruntlement of Greensburg Salem school directors and administrators, alleged cocaine trafficker David Greece will be receiving unemployment compensation.

Greece's trial is scheduled for October in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court. The district denied his unemployment claim. But an unemployment compensation judge reversed that decision.

The judge determined that Greece, a 30-year district employee who is suspended without pay as a maintenance worker, is entitled to the money because he has not been convicted of a crime.

Greensburg Salem's solicitor said an appeal of that ruling would cost the district and would probably not result in it being reversed.

Greece's name wasn't mentioned during a recent school board meeting when the issue was discussed.

Instead, he was referred to as the district employee accused of drug dealing.

-- compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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