Ho-hum. The intro was okay as far as it went, but it went wonky. DeSantis will have the money to make the race entertaining. As long as he's likely to go down, he should go down really swinging. Talk about the future of Pittsburgh, Mark. Give the people what they need as well as what they want. No one cares if Luke Ravenstahl is a star-struck, ethically-challenged celebrity chaser. He's a publicly pleasant guy and a Democrat in a city where that's almost all that matters.
What Pittsburgh needs is leadership. It could come from the Mayor's office or from City Council or from any number of other sources. (If I sound for a moment like I've watched The American President one too many times, it's because I have.) Luke Ravenstahl's problem isn't just that he's done nothing. His problem is that he has failed to lead.
What does that mean?
In my book, the biggest test of leadership is the ability to attract good and talented people to the cause. A leader inspires people to follow. If you're Mayor, that means that good and talented people should want to work for you and for the City that you represent. Look around city government right now. The P-G reports: City Hall Hobbled by Brain Drain. The official line is that budget constraints hobble hiring, but that explanation hides a deeper problem. Folks who staff municipal government don't do it for the pay (which is low) or the hours (which are long). Those managers and directors do it because at some level, they believe. Right now, the believers are fleeing. That's a bad sign. Eventually, it's not just the staff that will turn their backs. Eventually, the rest of the City will turn their backs, too.
If you want to change things -- if you're running for office (Mayor, say) -- what do you do? Go beyond pointing out the lack of activity. Go beyond putting out a conventional platform (which DeSantis is preparing to do). On top of that: Put something out there that people can rally behind, both your future staff and your prospective supporters in the electorate. Inspire them. You may lose (DeSantis almost certainly will lose), but inspire someone to pick up the banner and carry that momentum forward. There will be another election before we know it.
How about this? Declare that the following five things should and will be *the* major priorities of the City, and that the Mayor should and will collaborate with the County Executive, County Council, City Council, the School Board and Superintendent, and other regional leaders to make them *the* major priorities of the region. The specifics are important, and those have to be worked out. Inspiration, though, arrives via the vision.
(1) Business and jobs creation.
(2) Public education.
(3) Equitable taxation for individuals, families, homeowners, and businesses.
(4) Ethical, effective, and responsive government.
(5) Safe and clean natural and manmade regional infrastructure. A clean environment, in other words; safe bridges and roads; and sensible public transportation.
It doesn't have to be the Mayor or Mark DeSantis who puts this out there. Mike Tomlin could do it (after he wins the Super Bowl, at least). Or John Murray. Or Astro Teller. Or Jared Cohon or Mark Nordenberg. Or Glen Meakem. I'm not interested in political affiliation and I'm not necessarily interested in politics. As Ben Stein said in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "Anyone? Anyone?" *Someone* needs to start talking this way; someone needs to build a new way of thinking about Pittsburgh's future. If you build it, people will come. They will most definitely come.
At the least, they'll stop talking about whether UPMC should have bought Luke a ticket to a golf outing.