Sunday, January 3, 2010

With So Much Substance Available To Lambaste Luke Ravenstahl With, Who Needs Rumors?

A Busman's Holiday trip, suggested by the Heaper (and rare because the Busman hadn't been behind the wheel much lately), generated a reminder of Luke Ravenstahl's preemptive shot of celebrated, accomplished and snarling Philadelpia lawyer Richard Sprague across Pittsburgh's bow.

Sprague's substantial specter doesn't generate much Infinonyfear, for at least two reasons.

First, I don't recall much pre-announcement reference to rumors concerning the mayor's marriage or libido at this site -- even during the period in which dodging rumors added ten minutes for any walk along Grant Street.

Second, the issue does not seem relevant -- for the most part -- to public debate.

No one outside the Ravenstahl residence -- and perhaps not even the participants -- knows whom, if anyone, is responsible for the separation. Even were one spouse to be demonstrably faulted, a link to public affairs would not necessarily be established.

Some aspects of the situation, unrelated to rumor or innuendo, merit criticism. A carefully depicted (left) facade of politically perfect family life -- at public events, on election day(s), in earned media -- was disingenuous. The announcement's timing was politically calculated, and it is difficult to square the claim that Luke is paying a top-shelf Philadelphia lawyer's bill from personal funds with the published mayoral salary. These points deserve mention, but only because they involve a public official acting in public.

Erin Ravenstahl deserves deference, even with respect to complicity in campaign-driven facade. She appears never to have aspired to public attention, even when especially dumb luck pushed her fledgling family into an flukey floodlight. There is no indication she was aware of, let alone participated in, any of the unattractive episodes of the Ravenstahl era. As prominent young people in Pittsburgh's public eye (and restrooms) go, she appears to be exceptionally unobjectionable.

Unless evidence emerges of an inappropriate tie between personal and official conduct (concerning the public purse, a security detail, or another angle that periodically trips up a public official), Luke Ravenstahl, too, seems entitled to some slack.

There is no need to rely on rumors to find more than ample grounds to condemn, if not ridicule, Luke Ravenstahl's performance as mayor (and -- who can forget -- member of council) of Pittsburgh. Sticking to the substance seems appropriate.

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