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Hope floats: If voters would only act on Mayor Ravenstahl as they did for giant duck

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By Nafari Vanaski
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 11:49 p.m.

A reader called to say she disagreed with my column last week suggesting that Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl should be impeached for neglecting his job.

She suggested there might be something wrong with me.

“Do you have postpartum depression or somethin'?” she asked in a message.

No, and I don't have “the vapors,” either. One would expect that sort of ignorance from a “Mad Men” Don Draper-type trying to pooh-pooh a woman's opinion — not another woman in 2013.

Most readers I heard from agreed with my impeachment position, though one suggested why no one has moved on the idea:

“I think that the reason no one is on the bandwagon to impeach the current mayor is because they would rather have a deadbeat mayor than Council President Darlene Harris in office!”

Ouch. (I couldn't reach Harris on Wednesday.)

“I was shocked when Luke was re-elected — twice. He reeked of inexperience but had the connections,” another reader wrote.

I didn't expect to hear anyone besides Ravenstahl and his family claim he is doing a good job. Yet the Young Democrats of Allegheny County contacted me via Twitter to say the city has thrived under Ravenstahl's administration. Because city services continue to operate, the group said, my negligence argument is rendered useless.

It would appear the Young Dems don't understand how impeachment works. Any voter can submit a petition with 20 signatures from other voters, but the petition goes to Court of Common Pleas, which determines its validity. Then it goes to a court-appointed citizens investigating panel, which recommends whether the petition should advance. If so, City Council becomes the jury, and the president judge of the court oversees the hearing.

It's a fair process that at least asks whether impeachment is an option in a given situation. There's nothing wrong with that.

Maybe it's poor form to wonder why voters are willing to put up with poor mayoral leadership. At the same time, there is an online petition on started by Twittsburgh that has more than 5,200 signatures to keep the giant Rubber Duck as a permanent fixture.

Thank heaven for the duck. It seems it's the only thing that can paddle through the nearly impenetrable wall of voter apathy in this city.

Nafari Vanaski is a Trib Total Media staff writer. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, or on Twitter @NafariTrib.

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