Every politician's cloud has a silver lining

| Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 4:11 p.m.

Time to break out the silver linings playbook.

Last week wasn't particularly good for a number of people in the political arena, but there's no reason for them to turn glum or grumpy. Just below the surface of their respective misfortunes probably lurks some small detail that should provide them a glimmer of hope moving forward.

Let's see if we can find that detail. Let's see what the playbook might contain for the following folks:

• Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

Ravenstahl's one-man re-election wrecking crew, Police Chief Nate Harper, drew scrutiny for his ownership stake with several subordinates in a private consulting company. That revelation brought further attention to the federal grand jury investigating whether Harper was involved in some shady city contract shenanigans.

Silver lining: At least the police department clerk arrested Tuesday on charges she stole more than $17,000 from the records room wasn't one of Harper's consulting company partners.

• Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald

Fitz endured the embarrassment of admitting that county tax bills contained a math error and would have to be reprinted to avoid overcharging residents. The county was forced to spend thousands of dollars to print new bills and give property owners an extra 30 days to pay them.

Silver lining: If he runs into political foe Raven­stahl while crossing Grant Street, Fitzgerald can counter any mayoral smirk over the billing mistake by innocently asking if he has heard how long the Harper investigation might last.

• State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin

Melvin's ongoing public corruption trial thus far essentially has been a replay of the public corruption trial that sent her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, to prison. Many of the same witnesses are offering the same testimony: that aides to both sisters performed political work for the suspended justice on public time.

Silver lining: Unlike her sister, Melvin has managed to avoid being charged with forgery halfway through her trial.

• State Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon; state Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights; and state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil

The three Western Pennsylvania lawmakers face fines for being among 117 candidates for state office who disregarded the Jan. 31 deadline for filing campaign finance reports, according to a list released Thursday by the Department of State.

Silver lining: At least they don't have as good a reason for not filing as Bill DeWeese, who also was on the list. The former state representative from Waynesburg is in prison for corruption.

And finally ...

• Gov. Tom Corbett

The beleaguered governor probably reached for the Rolaids after seeing the results of a Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday. Not only do a mere 26 percent of registered voters believe Corbett is doing a good job, only 41 percent of Republican respondents believe the GOP governor is performing well.

Silver lining: In what should bolster confidence in his chances for re-election next year, Corbett did manage to outpoll ringworm, anthrax and most Nazi war criminals.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

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