(Editor’s note: The Chronicle will continue to follow this story, including the impact it will have on Jewish Pittsburgh.)
Media outlets are reporting that Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl won’t seek reelection. He made the announcement at a news conference Friday morning.
The announcement comes one day after Ravenstahl dodged contact with the media Thursday, while questions about his future kept reporters camped outside his office and Pittsburghers affixed to Twitter, eager for updates.
“I am 95 percent that the mayor is probably not going to run,” State Democratic Chairman Jim Burn told KDKA-TV Thursday. “That is my current analysis of what I see, what I hear and what I’ve been told.”
Ravenstahl has been conspicuously absent from a string of campaign and public events this week, including Wednesday night, when he failed to show up for a candidates’ forum at Perry Traditional Academy on the North Side. Kevin Quigley, a Department of Public Works official and close friend of Ravenstahl’s who appeared in the mayor’s stead, said that the mayor would be holding a press conference in the next couple of days to address, “some personal things going on right now that I’m not at liberty to discuss.”
Now in the final year of his term, Ravenstahl has faced intense scrutiny for his handling of the city’s police bureau. The bureau is under federal investigation for its spending practices, including the use of debit cards linked to secret credit union accounts by Ravenstahl’s bodyguards. One of Ravenstahl’s former bodyguards alleges the mayor knew of the illicit spending practices, though the mayor fervently denies such knowledge. Other criticisms stem from officers’ discharge of firearms during a car chase on the South Side and the department’s handling of the murder of Ka’Sandra Wade. Ravenstahl had been outwardly supportive of police Chief Nate Harper, but forced Harper to resign last week.
KDKA-TV reported Thursday morning that Mayor Ravenstahl was “expected to make a major announcement today concerning his family and his future,” prompting rampant speculation that the mayor would announce his intention not to seek re-election, or possibly even resign.
Amid reports that such an announcement was imminent, reporters clogged the hallway in front of the Mayor’s Office in the City-County Building beginning at 7 a.m. on Thursday, waiting for something to happen.
Astonishingly little did.
Rumors of a 1 p.m. press conference proved unfounded. So, too, did speculation about a 4 p.m. start-time. A 7 p.m. event might have just been wishful thinking on reporters’ part.
Various city officials appeared sporadically, none offering any information. Between 2:00 and 2:30 p.m., Public Safety Director Michael Huss twice walked through the lobby between the Mayor’s Office and the fifth-floor elevators, keeping his head down and ignoring assembled reporters. Dan Regan, the city solicitor, also ignored questions. Around 2:40 p.m., Duane Ashley, the city’s director of operations, appeared from a stairway near the entrance to the Mayor’s Office, but stopped briefly to tell reporters that he, too, had nothing to say.
“I cannot tell you anything. I don’t have any information,” Ashley said before entering the Mayor’s Office.
Around 3:45 p.m., District 5 Councilor Corey O’Connor showed up with a box of bottled water for reporters.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Ravenstahl made his lone appearance of the day — accompanied by aides including Chief of Staff Yarone Zober — he walked across the office suite, past its main entrance and through reporters’ line of sight.