Patrick Dowd opened the doors to his Downtown office last night, but perhaps more importantly, he's seems to be closing the door on some fears people might have had about his campaign style.
For one thing, he's gotten a little less wonky. At his official campaign kick-off, Dowd had a tendency to wander into discursions about policy minutiae that seemed to test the patience of even die-hard supporters. He did that much less last night -- and when a supporter asked about Dowd's crusade against bond swaps at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Dowd kept things simple, charging that the process was a risky approach to financing, without delving into the intricacies of the bond market.
And in case you were concerned that Dowd wouldn't be willing to go after Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, give a listen to this clip, which charges the mayor with "celebrity chasing" and "pay for play" politics. (In fact, some material deemed too graphic by media executives was deleted from this track.)
In response to an audience question, Dowd also addressed his role in the closing of Schenley High School. Dowd, a former school board member, has been plagued by that move about as much as he has by his decision to remove former Superintendent John Thompson. While Dowd wasn't on the school board at the time the controversial decision was made, he supported the move. The closing was portrayed as a veritable conspiracy in some quarters: Even though some have since forgiven him -- and even though there's been at least a bit of evidence supporting some of Dowd's other controversial moves -- Schenley continues to dog Dowd.
But Dowd fielded the question without discomfort, and the youthful crowd of about 60 was receptive. Dowd also has some events to look forward to: On April 8, he'll be feted at an event hosted by Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who's a beacon to the young-at-heart in Pittsburgh political circles. The host committee also includes Shadow Lounge proprietor Justin Strong, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania public-affairs director Jodi Hirsh, and state Rep. Chelsa Wagner.
I love Mel Packer!