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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Heads Up: Morning headlines for Jan. 16

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Story of the day: The pieces are being set up in the city's mayoral race. As I noted on Twitter yesterday, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced his campaign had $781,510.76 on-hand by the end of 2012. That's about $439,500 more than he had a year ago; by contrast, Bill Peduto's campaign raised $342,000 last year. Peduto's campaign issued a statement contending that this showed the mayor's weakness, because Peduto raised all of his money in the last three months of the year, whereas Ravenstahl had all year to raise money. We-e-e-e-ell ... except that Ravenstahl almost certainly wasn't doing much fundraising until late in the year himself: You may recall there was a presidential election last year, and those tend to soak up a lot of money. Still: Peduto can claim to be in the same ballpark as Ravenstahl for sure, and that's all that matters at this stage, when you have to convince people there's going to be a race. And that race is going to get another entrant this morning, when City Controller Michael Lamb launches his own campaign at a South Hills coffeeshop. Follow me on Twitter for that: In the meantime, it's worth noting the contrast between Peduto's comparatively glitzy campaign kick-off and Lamb's street-level approach. You get a strong impression of a guy who may not have the financial resources Peduto has been able to attract ... but also of a guy who is trying to make that work for him.

Also in city news: Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced plans to crack down on the South Side's weekend bacchanals, with stepped-up enforcement of DUIs, barroom occupancy permits, public intoxication, and parking. If that sounds familiar, it's because there have been previous such efforts before, suspended for what Ravenstahl called "resource issues" in the past. This time, though, he's pledging to stick with the effort as long as it takes.

The ACLU is suing Allegheny County and the Pine Township police for allegedly wrongly detaining a woman they falsely believed was an illegal immigrant. A passenger in the woman's car was in the country illegally, apparently, but the ACLU says it took police 11 hours to release her -- with little other evidence than an accent.

From our "dog bites man" desk comes news that while Congress passed some $50 billion in aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy, it did so without the votes of any western PA Republicans. Tim Murphy, Mike Kelly, and Keith Rothfus all voted against the funding. Rothfus' vote in particular was inevitable; he'd previously voted against a much smaller aid package that even Murphy and Kelly had supported. Last night he repeated earlier statements that he could only approve emergency spending if it was offset by cuts elsewhere. Which, again, suggests he may not know the meaning of the word "emergency."

President Obama is slated to announce new gun-control proposals today; that slamming sound you may hear will be the sound of bunker blast-doors ringing closed. But Sen. Bob Casey has Obama covered, sounding reasonable, and open to a wide-ranging discussion. A quick look at the comments section of this story offers some hints to how far that approach may get us. Then again, the state's largest gun show is banning assault-weapon sales this year -- a move which is prompting some gun owners to pledge a boycott. The gun debate is so contentious, the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, that there are even arguments over what to call the guns -- shooters prefer phrases like "modern sporting rifles," which makes them sound downright gentlemanly.

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