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Vanaski: Impeaching Luke easy — and necessary

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By Nafari Vanaski
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

If you're a fan, the opening line of the song that closed the heralded “Breaking Bad” TV series might be stuck in your head.

If you're a Pittsburgh resident who voted for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, it might sound like a taunt.

“Guess I got what I deserved,” goes the line in Badfinger's “Baby Blue.”

This is what you get when you elect someone barely out of his adolescence to be mayor. Ravenstahl, 33, who became mayor at age 26 in September 2006 and won two elections after, at least decided to quit his re-election campaign this year.

But he chose to remain in office until January, flaunting a level of disinterest you usually see at the drive-thru window of a fast-food restaurant.

On Wednesday, however, Ravenstahl took to his website and Twitter to say he's really good at his job, citing his #sevenyearsofsuccess. Then he showed up to cut a ribbon for housing, and talked to reporters — whom he sometimes dodges.

Some residents would have liked to see him when police officers were involved in shootings in the South Side and Homewood this year. Until recent days, he seemed to be mostly AWOL from the City-County Building.

Ravenstahl claims that despite his absences, he has been doing city work. Yet some City Council members complain they've had to file Right-to-Know Law requests just to get information from his office. Others say they haven't heard from him in weeks.

Well, frontrunner mayoral candidate Bill Peduto did. They ran into each other — at a Pirates game.

Did you know that a registered city voter could begin the process to impeach a mayor? According to the city's home rule charter, any “elector” can initiate that by filing a petition with Allegheny County Common Pleas Court bearing the signatures of 20 registered city voters. The court would hear arguments and decide whether to appoint a panel of citizens to investigate.

You might ask: What's the point? In two months, he'll be done.

The point is that neglect of duty is a legitimate cause for impeachment under the charter. If someone is negligent, you get rid of him; you don't let him shun the hard questions but jump right in when Christopher Nolan shows up to film a Batman movie.

Pittsburghers somehow seem resigned to Ravenstahl's behavior, as though a city doesn't need a leader.

If he were the manager of your business and behaved that way, you'd fire him. But because he's the mayor, he gets to play out the clock?

The alarm is going off, people. Wake up.

Nafari Vanaski is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, or

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