Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Bride Of Lukenstein

The expressions of InsolvenCity's council members revealed more than did the votes and appointments that set the stage for another year of dysfunction among the City of Pittsburgh's elected leaders.

In quintessential fifth floor fashion, the mayor, his minions, and nine city councilors alienated allies, roiled relationships, and forged faithless allegiances to accomplish not even a feint at progress but instead the maintenance of a mediocre status quo. Another improbable broken-field run places Darlene Harris in the council president's chair, this time leaving an even more broken field. A recipe for a combination of free-for-all and free-fall.

Accepting her colleagues' affirmation, Harris (left, reaching for swearing-in Bible) looked every bit the Bride of Lukenstein she had become, jolted into a tortured approximation of political life by strange applications of power and chemistry. She has her presidency, but is not quite sure how or why it came to creation, and even her flickering faculties sense there is something unnatural and doomed about it.

Patrick Dowd, who bartered his vote for . . . who knows what? Not even a hackneyed horror script could devise a plot lurch in which Dowd received anything worthwhile. On this day, his was the pivotal vote (except in the fantasy world of the Post-Gazette's local political coverage). But his expression indicated that he knew not one of his eight colleagues would ever consider him reliable again. If there was a strategy or benefit associated with this vote, it is known, or perhaps exists, only in the mind of Patrick Dowd.

Ricky Burgess looked like a student whose forged hall pass just fooled one teacher but is not expected to carry him all the way to the parking lot. He has the finance chair, but can not count on anything after today.

Theresa Kail Smith, maid of honor for a day, had the look of an outsider who had maneuvered her way into the "in" crowd, but who realized she would probably be back to her customary level of popularity tomorrow.

Corey O'Connor displayed the genuine smile of someone who was overwhelmed, mostly by good things like inauguration and a marriage proposal, but also by the recognition he was now responsible for voting on public policy despite barely understanding what he had gotten himself into. He looked much like fellow Central Catholic graduate Tino Sunseri in a collapsing pocket, two long seconds after the ball should have been thrown.

Bruce Kraus, Bill Peduto, and Natalia Rudiak tried but could not hide shell shock. Three faces, one expression, evoking Jon Lovitz in a Saturday Night Live presidential debate as Michael Dukakis, who, when asked to comment on the inane mumbling of Dana Carvey's George Bush (the older, competent one), offered concise rebuttal: "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!" Watch:

Daniel Lavelle just looked happy that his first day of this year's council term could not be as face-plant disastrous as his first day one year ago.

We will leave it to others to perform the detailed autopsy on this year's council, a body decomposing less than one hour into its new life. Divided government has its virtues in some circumstances, but this council is too divided to stand or crawl. Two men put Harris back into the president's position; one hates her, the other dislikes her. As of today, those sentiments are shared by the council colleagues who stood by Harris as the mayor attempted to whack her. There is no discernible majority for anything; not for good government, not for mayoral sycophancy, not for ham-handed corruption, not for any identifiable strategy, not for any sensible tactic.

Can InsolvenCity, still failing after a sustained period of decline, afford the year of paralysis precipitated by today's exhibition of fifth floor dysfunction? What spooked the largely intact majority into splintering? Does anyone other than the List-Makers (and, perhaps, Jeff Thomas) stand to benefit from today's events?

Some (such as Trib headline writers in distant counties) may infer that the animation of the Bride of Lukenstein indicates that Mayor Ravenstahl has regained control of the levers of power. But most people forget that the beneficiary of the bride's creation was not Frankenstein but instead Frankenstein's monster. Frankenstein was the guy who threw the switches and pulled the levers -- and that still is not Luke Ravenstahl, not by a long shot. Far more likely, Pittsburgh will spend this year traveling downhill with no one at the wheel. That's right, another horror movie.

Infytune: Frankenstein, Edgar Winter Group


Anonymous said...

Dowd for finance? Wrong again

Dude? said...

It seems to me... that while some on council are not fans of Luke, the thought of elevating Peduto (or one of his two proxy votes) to the council presidency - thus granting Peduto a louder megaphone from which to tout his mayoral campaign - is that much more revolting.
Call this one as a win for Lamb.

Anonymous said...

I just threw up at the thought of all this.

Anonymous said...

The PG article referred to "personal political differences." Forgive me for not staying on top of the circus, but can someone explain the differces? I am currently reading the Dec 18th newspaper (paper copy, dammit!!), it has been a very busy holiday season.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious and spot on Infy. And yes, the PG coverage seems to be dictated by whether or not it can run another Corey photo from the library. Still, he did have a hand in retaining Harris and is apparently really smarting from the tongue lashing he got from Peduto et. al. Ask him about the drunken airline pilot analogy.

Anonymous said...

These guys all piss each other off from time to time mainly over stupid little things, then have a hard time handling the drama. Then the media pays attention one or two days a year and there is more drama on top of the drama. Look at these people, esp. the mayor. If nobody can get anything done is that so bad? One vote for gridlock.

Ghost of Elsa Lanchester said...

If you look at the picture of the bride (putting her hand on the Bible, I love it) then look at the one next to Dowd a little further down the page, you can't tell me there isn't a resemblance. Pretty funny.

Speaking of freaky, that Edgar Winter's one weird looking dude if he's the one with the white hair.

I was 11:01, too.

Anonymous said...

Second vote for gridlock, get adults in office starting with the Mayor and then we can talk. How long until the old RRZ derivatives salesmen and parking guys are back sniffing around the new Ravenstahl/Harris/Dowd/O'Connor operation to see if there isn't some quick money to be made? Man it really hurt to type Corey's name in that last one. God save our city.

Anonymous said...

Dowd for finance? Just thought I would mention that again. Oh and how did your 40-1 deal on Burgess work out for you?

Anonymous said...

Dowd got exactly what he wanted. he was able to break up the alliance that he has been fighting against for the past four years. Big win for Dowd and Burgess. Big loss for Peduto and his buddies.

Infinonymous said...

You're saying Dowd is dumb enough to be a foot soldier for the mayor who aggressively attempted to toss Dowd out of office and still dislikes him? Against his philosophical allies? Really?

What's next? You think Darlene Harris is dizzy enough to be a foot soldier for the mayor who aggressively attempted to throw her . . . hey, wait a minute . . .

Anonymous said...

You know nothing about politics. These people are all out for themselves and just cut the right deal at the right time. They all won something. The only losers are Peduto and Rudiak. Peduto because no one likes him anywhere in the City except 22 year old OWS morons and Rudiak because she goes from one bad haircut to another and babbles about nonsense at every turn.

Gen. Halftrak said...

Wow. Dissing Rudiak's hairstyles. I hear Darlene Harris wears a tatty housecoat and her toll house cookies are stale.

It's 2012 old man. Get your nose out of Beetle Bailey and smell the burning bras.

Anonymous said...

This blog is very well done.

Anonymous said...

To allow Ricky Burgess to hold the finance chair is dispicable. His history of not paying his taxes is well known and I want to know what the back story is to allow this injustice to occur!

Anonymous said...

hats off to Chelsea Wagner!!! She has
decided to be both County Controller
ans State Rep at the same time!! The best thing
about that is the implicit acknowledgment
that anyone can do both jobs at once. So let's
go to a part time legislature.Could they do worse?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that she just gave birth to a second child. And hats off to Khari for being a stay at home dad!