Sunday, September 09, 2007

Third time's not so charming ...

This is maybe the third time I have written this post this year. Well, not this exact post, but one with this topic. At least the third time. My views about it have changed, but I am kind of annoyed that I am writing it again.

First (I think) I noticed the Awesome Bill Peduto didn’t really have any policy or position papers on his website. You could go fishing, or more accurately Googling, and find stuff from his ‘05 primary run. Surprisingly those PDF’s were probably still relevant. Anyway, Peduto dropped out of the primary, so I guess it didn’t matter. Now there’s Reform Pittsburgh Now with articles from the statewide reform movement (and no Pittsburgh material beyond videos)…

I don’t know that Pat Dowd ever put up any Council specific PDF’s, which is to say something like a study or a paper. But there were definitely detailed statements, and Len Bodack, with more money than Dowd, had no website through the whole campaign.

Luke Ravenstahl has a website. Under the issues section, it has videos of the Mayor talking about his views on subjects. I’ve watched one, but I don’t remember really what he said. And I don’t want to have to sit through a whole video or four to check what he said.

The Mayor’s campaign website has pictures (40 of ‘em) of campaign events, including one from an April fifth campaign event. The news hasn’t kept up quite as well, the last news story on the Mayor’s website is from the end of January. There’s a real contempt for the voters in a Mayor who doesn’t bother to keep his campaign website up to date, not saying anything about a Mayor without a single PDF on his views or plans. “Just trust me” I guess is the statement (or maybe its more of a “whadda you gonna do about it”).

Mark Desantis is going a step beyond contempt for the voters, but only a step. His campaign website is updating practically daily now, with stories from the press about DeSantis. The problem is there isn’t a whole lot of original content, certainly no PDF’s. We are starving for detail, for back up on how the pension funding plan would work. Does DeSantis or his team have some different growth ideas, that the city can divert the gambling and non-profit revenue to the pensions. We know that an extra 25 million into pensions will actually only be a token, a sign to the state that the city is serious about it’s problems, even if the state isn’t actually serious about Pittsburgh’s problems. But then there is this Doug Shields quote from Chris Briem’s Null Space: "“We know that in 2009, 2010, and 2011 we’ll probably — without adjustment to the plan — see some structural deficits,” Shields said. By 2010, the city projects a structural deficit of $6 million and a $16 million to $18 million deficit by 2011."

In other words, both Mayoral candidates are taking us for a ride. Mark Desantis is probably promising us a new level of austerity we can’t actually afford, and Mayor Ravenstahl is wrong about how well the city is doing. We need more information, and maybe other policies, in print, from the candidates, to consider and evaluate.

Except that, as I said in the beginning, I am changing my mind about wanting to see facts. I think I might well rather see video instead. I am coming to the conclusion that it might be nice to have PDF’s, reassuring to the voters, but the PDF’s probably don’t get downloaded much. The voters make up there mind based mostly on their habits, whether they have always voted democratic or republican. We know that there was some change in voting habits nationally in 1980 and 1984, with the Reagan revolution. Except probably not here. And there was Clinton bringing voters back to the democrats in the nineties, and the change with second Bush in the oughts (‘00’s). Except apparently not here. Mostly Pittsburgh has always voted democrat, period

Desantis might have a chance, with the right kind of advertising, to even win the election. I am relatively convinced of that, but it would have to be the right kind of advertising, and enough voters would have to see it. He would have to differentiate himslf from the Mayor in a way that resonated with voters. Maybe some mention about how Desantis is old enough to remember when the mills closed, and how he doesn’t want to see that happen to the city. Only with a better resonance with the voters. Or something. Maybe an internet interview with iJustine. Or not (deifnately not on a bus). But I don’t think there’s time and the right sort of expertise to figure out what the right message is.

I’ll probably be putting this post up in ’09. Oh well, give experience a chance. Hoo rah.

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