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Illness briefly sidelines mayor, but he's back in the game by late week

| Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, 11:55 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl speaks at the dedication ceremony for the new World War II Memorial on the North Shore on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.

The Tribune-Review is chronicling Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's service until his term ends in January.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl missed an AIDS awareness rally because of illness on Monday, but surfaced later in the week for a pension board meeting and a dedication ceremony.

Spokesman Marissa Doyle said the mayor was out of the office sick on Monday. She said she presumed, but wasn't sure, that he was sick on Tuesday.

Ravenstahl returned to work on Wednesday and was in the office attending to city business.

On Thursday, he attended a meeting of the Municipal Pension Trust Fund board, where he criticized Mayor-elect Bill Peduto's plan to offer 136 non-union employees early retirement, calling it a potential waste of taxpayers' money.

He said taxpayers, who could foot up to $2 million annually for 10 years, should not have to pay for early retirements.

“If you don't want these people here, fire them,” he said. “I have friends who will be angry at me for saying this, but I have an obligation to the taxpayers.”

On Friday, Ravenstahl spoke at the dedication ceremony of the Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial.

Although other invited speakers read from prepared statements, the mayor spoke casually but respectfully to a crowd that included more than 100 veterans wrapped in blankets on a cold, gray day.

“As a younger American,” he said, “I just want you to know that we are tremendously grateful for the sacrifices that you all have made and continue to make in order to make this a wonderful country for us to live in.”

He elicited laughs when he spoke of the “tenacity” shown by members of the memorial committee, particularly John Vento, a World War II veteran from Penn Hills, to make the monument a reality.

“On a personal note, I'm just excited that I don't have to take John Vento's call anymore — and I mean that with all due respect,” Ravenstahl joked.

The Mayor's Office initially announced he would appear on Saturday to dedicate a new soccer field at Riverview Park in the North Side. Doyle said Ravenstahl canceled so he could cheer on the North Catholic football team his father is coaching in the playoffs. The city canceled the event because of fears of bad weather.

As of the weekend, Pittsburgh residents have paid Ravenstahl about $101,800 this year. He makes $108,000 annually.

Did you see Ravenstahl recently?Send photos and details to wheresluke@tribweb.com.

Bob Bauder and Chris Togneri are Trib Total Media staff writers. Reach Bauder at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com. Reach Togneri at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com

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