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Luke's thank-you an afterthought

| Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007

Were it not for the quick thinking of his wife, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl would have committed an embarrassing faux pas on election night.

After defeating Republican challenger Mark DeSantis , Ravenstahl delivered his victory speech at The Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh. He was about to leave the stage when Erin Ravenstahl caught him by the collar and whispered something to him.

We're not sure exactly what she uttered. But the newly elected mayor returned to the podium to thank the family of Bob O'Connor.

Ravenstahl, you may remember, became mayor after O'Connor's death in September 2006. His victory in Tuesday's special election enables him to complete the remainder of O'Connor's term.

O'Connor's immediate family were always staunch supporters of his successor. The mayor's widow, Judy O'Connor, prominently displayed a Ravenstahl sign in the front yard of her Squirrel Hill home and recorded an endorsement massage for Ravenstahl.

So grateful was the mayor, apparently, that he had to be reminded to offer a simple thank-you.

REAGAN AUDIT. How do you misplace more than 80,000 items?

That is the mystifying question the folks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum unfortunately are attempting to answer.

An audit by the National Archives inspector general concluded that the library in Simi Valley was unable to properly account for more than 80,000 objects out of its collection of some 100,000 artifacts, the Los Angeles Times reported last week.

The audit was connected to an investigation into allegations that a former employee stole from the collection of gifts to Ronald and Nancy Reagan from foreign leaders and other dignitaries, but sloppy record-keeping has hindered the inquiry.

Auditors also uncovered numerous storage lapses, such as pieces of art stacked on top of one another, and sculptures and vases unwrapped and lying open in an area prone to earthquakes.

When auditors tried to locate a sample of 21 items from a larger list of "high-value objects," one vase was missing even though library records indicated it was accounted for.

Some of the items unaccounted for include pieces from a large collection of ornamented belt buckles given to Reagan over the years.

National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said the agency was working to fix the problem. Some library volunteers said they were asked this summer to start an inventory project, which could take years to complete.

BLOGGERS' GLASS IS HALF FULL. Several anti-Ravenstahl bloggers were searching desperately for a silver lining in the dark clouds of the mayor's victory.

Offered the folks over at The Burgh Report: "DeSantis has put up the best numbers for a GOP mayoral candidate in Pittsburgh since 1965. Or phrased in the other direction, Luke Ravenstahl's performance was the worst by a Democrat in a Pittsburgh mayoral general election in 42 years."

The frequent Ravenstahl critics -- and big Trib fans -- over at 2 Political Junkies wrote, "Look on the bright side ... (local bloggers) will have tons of material for the next two years."

Ravenstahl couldn't have enjoyed the negative postings about him in recent months, but we're guessing he got a few chuckles reading the blogs Wednesday. What's that old saying about he who laughs last?

ONE AND DONE? Jason Altmire is one first-term Pennsylvania Congressman who could have a tough time holding on to his seat, USA Today predicted last week.

In a story previewing the 2008 elections, the newspaper had this to say about the McCandless Democrat in next year's 4th Congressional District race:

"Altmire, who unseated Melissa Hart in 2006, will face her again if she wins the (Republican) primary. Former football star Lynn Swann also is considering a run against Altmire (and) national Republicans are helping Hart raise money and running newspaper ads against Altmire."

The newspaper failed to note that another Republican, former Allegheny County Councilman Ron Francis , also has expressed interest in the seat. Altmire will be plenty busy in 2008 fending off a challenge from somebody.

TOM TOM DRUM (UP SUPPORT) . Westmoreland County Commissioners Tom Balya and Tom Ceraso , who vociferously denied during the campaign that there are ties between being a county department head and the victorious incumbents' campaigns, likely would have been shocked if they visited one voting precinct in Latrobe.

Voters in Latrobe's 4th Ward were greeted by none other than county human resources director Chuck Dominick , sporting Balya and Ceraso campaign buttons and urging voters to support his two bosses.

But politicking runs deep in the Dominick family. The department head's mother, Mary Ann Dominick , is a former county jury commissioner who was very active in the county Democratic committee.

UP 'N RUNNING AGAIN . Deborah Jeane Palfrey , alleged to be the infamous "D.C. Madam" and a 1974 Charleroi High School grad, is back in business.

Palfrey, who went by the name "Miz Julia," according to federal charges, has put her high school alumni Web site on "all things Charleroi" back online following a brief hiatus after her indictment earlier this year.

She is awaiting federal trial on charges of running a prostitution operation, Pamela Martin and Associates, in Washington, D.C., out of her home in Vallejo, Calif., from 2002 until August 2006.

The site is located at .

Palfrey also explained why the Internet site was temporarily shut down.

"The site was closed out of sheer disgust for the disrespectful manner I was being shown in light of my ordeal, by far too many of the 'good town folk', both geographically -- on and off site. However, after considerable reflection on my part at the mere thought/heartbreak at losing 4 1/2 years of work, not to mention the innocent alumni who would be made to suffer if the site were closed permanently, I decided to reopen it," Palfrey wrote.

"It is my sincerest hope alumni -- across the generations -- will use, enjoy and participate in the site irrespective of any personal feelings directed toward me and/or my situation."

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