It’s a question many have been asking in what has shaped up to be a very rocky and controversial week for the city of Pittsburgh. The city received another black eye with the forced resignation of Police Chief Nate Harper amidst a FBI investigation into mismanagement of funds from the Bureau’s special events department.
Among Fbi allegations of missing funds that may date back all the way to the Pittsburgh G20 summit in which funds were used to rent condos for high ranking officials including Mayor Luke Ravenstahl as well as, create a fund in the Police Bureau’s credit union paying for Ravenstahl’s body guards’ expenses. Ravenstahl denies he had knowledge of his body guards having debit cards from the disputed accounts and asserts he met with the FBI on their investigation and is not a target of said inquiries.
After Harper’s resignation last week, and allegations leveled against him from former bodyguards, Ravenstahl cancelled all public appearances over the last week. At an event Wednesday night, Longtime friend and Asst. Pittsburgh Public Works Director, Kevin Quigley told members in atttendance of an event that the mayor “was going thru personal issues and he wouldhold a news conference within the next couple days to discuss the issues.”
Some local Pittsburgh media outlets began specualating and reporting from “sources” That the mayor would hold a press conference on Thursday to announce his resignation or his decision not to run for re-election due to his mother being recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and the stress of defending himself constantly to media due to the FBI investigation. This lead all media outlets to stake out the mayor’s office as early as 9 AM to await a rumored 1pm press conference.
Mayor Ravenstahl was not seen throughout the day in his office or within city limits until a brief glimpse in his office with Public Safety Director Mike Huss, who when leaving the mayor’s office refused to acknowledge the small army of media gatheredin the hallways as he quickly made an exit on an elevator. Huss eventually returned to the mayor’s office ignoring media again, and was seen leaving with the Mayor through a exit not available to the public inside the mayor’s office at 4 PM.
It was around this time that the mayor’s staff began feeding media with doughnuts, coffee, and pizza. When asked if the mayor was in or came into the office today, reporters were greeted with smiles and at times laughter with responses like “I don’t know, I’m just here to bring you pizza.”
All media cameras and eyes were on the glass doors of the mayor’s office as staffers walked back and forth seemingly toying with media laughing as they passed, or as they took pictures of the media circus outside. At one point Mayor Chief of Staff Yarone Zober (recentlyin trouble with Florida authorities) could clearly be seen strolling around the office at one point with a guitar, and then later displaying a checkered racing flag as he marched into another office prompting thunderous laughter from media watching.
By 7 Pm mayor staffer leaving for the day refused to answer media questions and kept saying they didn’t know where the mayor wasorif they saw him on Thursday.(despite the mayor being in his office at 2 different times.)
by 11 pm, the only media remaining were this reporter, KDKA TV 2 and WPXI Channel 11.
If the friend’s account of the mayor’s intentions were not accurate all the mayor had to do was deny them to media today. Instead, still upset with local media, it would seem the mayor and his staff trolled Indy and mainstream Pittsburgh media.
The Mayor most certainly despite personal issues did himself no favors by leading the media and their viewers/readers/followers on for over 13 hours today.
The only comunication from Ravenstahl’s office has been one tweet from the mayor’s twitter. No phone calls or emails have been returned to either media, or city council members who are also kept in the dark.
Media plans on returning the mayor’s office in the morning.
UPDATE: Mayor Ravenstahl held a press conference earlier today (3/1/13) announcing he would not be seeking re-election.