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Mag finds Luke where locals don't

| Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
(no caption needed -- just nameline -- for Whispers 010613/aw) Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, listens to Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg as he speaks during a hearing on Libya in Washington on Thursday, March 31, 2011. (Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review)
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(no caption -- just nameline -- needed for Whispers 010613/aw) Mayor Luke Ravenstahl talks about public safety and emergency preparedness in regards to Hurricane Sandy during a press briefing in the City County Building Downtown on Monday, October 29, 2012. The Mayor talked about the City preparation plans saying that the City is 'preparing for the worst.' Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Stephen Yakopec III
Darlene Upson

As anyone who follows Pittsburgh city government can attest, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl rarely attends council meetings.

So it was peculiar that a Governing magazine profile of some of America's younger mayors implied that council chambers are among the Lukester's favorite hangouts.

According to Dylan Scott, who wrote the article, “In Pittsburgh ... residents might catch 32-year-old Mayor Luke Ravenstahl at a City Council meeting one night and then out with friends at a local watering hole the next.”

Really?

We'd assert that Pittsburghers are much more likely to find Ravenstahl out with friends than at an evening council meeting — and not just because council almost always meets during the day. The Lukester appears about as fond of turning up there as he would be of walking into Cappy's — the favorite Shadyside tavern of Councilman Bill Peduto, his political nemesis and an opponent in May's Democrat mayoral primary.

• • • •

GOING AGAINST THE FAMILY GRAIN. The Yakopec family of Lower Burrell is used to seeing alleged criminals in the courtroom, not to one passing the ham at the dining room table.

So things probably were a little tense for them over the Christmas season when Stephen Yakopec III was arrested for allegedly assaulting a Pittsburgh police officer.

Yakopec allegedly punched Officer Stephen Matakovich after Matakovich ejected him from Mike and Tony's Gyro Shop on East Carson Street for refusing to stand in line and attempting to take someone else's food.

Yakopec was charged with aggravated assault and criminal mischief.

Such goings-on would be enough to dampen any family's holiday joy, but at the Yakopec homestead, the eggnog was probably a little extra sour. You see, Steve's mother, Cheryl Peck Yakopec, is the district judge in Lower Burrell; his uncle, John Peck, is Westmoreland County's district attorney; his father, Steve Yakopec, is a prominent Alle-Kiski Valley attorney; and his late grandfather, John Peck Sr., was Westmoreland's longtime sheriff.

• • • •

PUTTING IN OVERTIME, BUT OFF THE CLOCK. A former Fayette County row officer who resigned in June, in the middle of his term, has been seen at the courthouse in Uniontown almost daily since his departure.

Yukking it up with otherwise busy employees as he makes his rounds, Lance Winterhalter, who quit as prothonotary eight months ago, roams the halls and ducks in and out of various offices in search of familiar faces.

His frequent visits have prompted some to quip that Winterhalter spends more time at the courthouse now than he did in his 22 years on the job.

NEW BLOOD. Greater Latrobe School District voters may see some new names on the ballot in the May 21 primary.

Fresh off its campaign in November that killed a proposed quarter-mill tax that would have funded library services in Unity, the Concerned Citizens of Unity Township group has set its sights on school board races.

Organizer Darlene Upson said the group has three potential candidates and is seeking a fourth. It's looking to support candidates who will cut both real estate taxes and spending.

The terms of board members Kathryn “Key” Elder, Rhonda A. Laughlin,David A. Moffa and William Palmer expire this year. The citizens group is targeting Elder and Laughlin, Upson said.

Elder, on the board for 31 years, said she has not decided whether she will seek re-election.

The community group is still spitting mad over the board's decision to proceed with a $9.4 million multi-sport athletic complex at the junior-senior high school campus.

REFORM CHANCE. State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, plans to tackle Pennsylvania's controversial reporting requirements for small games of chance in her new role chairing the Senate Community Economic and Recreational Development Committee.

The committee oversees legislation relating to the state's gaming laws, economic development, municipal governments and tourism.

“One of my first priorities is tackling the new small games of chance reporting requirements, so I was pleased to see the governor's office extend the deadline for that. Gov. Corbett has given the Legislature an opportunity to take another look at the recent changes to the small games of chance laws,” she said.

The state Department of Revenue recently extended the deadline for such reports by one year, to Feb. 1, 2014.

— compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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