Pittsburgh Mayor Ravenstahl appears to check out early
The Tribune-Review has been chronicling Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's service until his term ends.
Ravenstahl's photographs, awards and personal belongings vanished from his outer offices, and it appears the mayor checked out two weeks before Mayor-elect Bill Peduto is inaugurated on Jan. 6.
Ravenstahl was not in the office on Monday or Tuesday, according to spokeswoman Marissa Doyle, who didn't know his plans for Christmas. She said he was not in the office on Thursday or Friday and had no public appearances scheduled.
Pittsburgh residents paid Ravenstahl another $2,000 last week, bringing his compensation for 2013 to about $107,800. He makes $108,000 annually.
Ravenstahl rarely appears in public or at City Hall since dropping his re-election bid in March because of “grueling demands” of the office and a heavy toll on his family. Political observers said his last nine months in office marked a sad end to a once-promising political career.
“I think Luke Ravenstahl, the story of his career, should really be titled a political tragedy,” said former Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey, who chairs the county Republican Committee. “Here's a bright young man, a college graduate and football player from a really nice family on the North Side. Then through a set of circumstances, he was thrust into the Mayor's Office when he was not prepared.”
Ravenstahl, 33, of Fineview was City Council president when Mayor Bob O'Connor died in office in 2006. Under city rules, Ravenstahl replaced him. He won two subsequent elections.
“He was young — the mayor of a major city. He had it all in front of him, and he just threw it all away,” Roddey said.
Roddey and others noted that the city improved during Ravenstahl's tenure. The administration paid down debilitating debt, cut expenses and plowed more money than ever into chronically underfunded employee pension funds, all with state financial oversight.
The city experienced more development Downtown and in the East End than it had in years.
Yet the mayor wasted his final year in office, they said.
“We've had a lot of lame-duck mayors, but they still had an agenda they wanted to get done, and they tried to pursue it,” said Moe Coleman, director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh's Institute of Politics. “I just get the sense that he just doesn't really like this job, and he's just happy to get out of it.”
Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.