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Politics upstage ground-breaking ceremony in East Liberty

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 4:48 p.m.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl couldn't help but bring up his re-election campaign at a ceremonial ground-breaking of Bakery Square 2.0 in East Liberty on Thursday.

As the event's emcee, Ravenstahl, 33, of Summer Hill, was in charge of introducing the elected officials who attended to thank each other and Shadyside development firm Walnut Capital for making the extension of the Bakery Square shopping and high-end office district possible. Ravenstahl initially failed to introduce Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald — but he made the intro after he was prompted by Todd Reidbord, president of Walnut Capital, developers of Bakery Square and the ceremony's hosts.

Ravenstahl faces a re-election challenge from City Controller Michael Lamb of Mt. Washington and City Councilman Bill Peduto of Point Breeze. Fitzgerald endorsed Peduto and was the first politician to donate big money — $8,000, the maximum permissible — to Peduto's campaign. Neither Ravenstahl nor Fitzgerald has done much to downplay the political friction between the two Democrats whose Downtown offices are a block apart on Grant Street.

“We are at the forefront of what's good about our economy. I'm very proud, again,” Fitzgerald told a crowd gathered in a heated tent. “It's like another week, another project. I don't know which one it's going to be next week, but it's like every week something great is happening here in this region. We're excited ... there's so many good things that are happening here.”

Retaking the microphone stand, Ravenstahl did a small fist pump and said, “So many good things are happening, I agree. Stay the course, four more years!” drawing laughter from the crowd. “It sounds like an endorsement to me. I don't know about you.”

Fitzgerald just smiled and shook his head while sitting next to the microphone stand.

Ravenstahl declined to comment on whether he intentionally failed to introduce Fitzgerald at first.

Also in attendance were Gov. Tom Corbett, state Sens. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills and Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Bill Flanagan, executive vice president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

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