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Going Through the Motions: October 24 and 30, 2007 

We cover city council so you don't have to October 24 and 30, 2007

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's endorsement of Republican Mark DeSantis for mayor over Luke "Stalking Tiger, Hidden Yukon" Ravenstahl left a bad taste in the mouths of council Democrats, most of whom DeSantis would end up having to work with if he actually won.

"They can endorse who they want to endorse," said Councilor Jim Motznik, his tone rising as he spoke. "The problem is some of the facts they use aren't fact.

"I used to look at the Post-Gazette as a newspaper that printed just the facts. I'm just frustrated at the crap that a paper that I used to respect would print."

Motznik specifically pointed to a section of the Oct. 21 endorsement that talked about Ravenstahl's decision not to privatize the city's trash service. "Instead of privatizing a service like trash collection, he extends it to Wilkinsburg -- not because it saves Pittsburgh money but because it's created a few more city jobs while helping a municipal neighbor," the P-G wrote.

Bu Motznik says that having city workers pick up trash was roughly $800,000 cheaper than rates proposed by either BFI's or Waste Management, who'd previously submitted bids for the work. Council President Doug Shields pointed out that Wilkinsburg saved an additional $300,000 by contracting with the city rather than private firms.

"Don't they have a board of directors that checks these facts?" Motznik asked in frustration. "We all know that the Tribune-Review is a Republican rag -- I'm not afraid to say it.

"Luckily for us, the voters aren't as dumb as the newspapers think they are."

The P-G has endorsed Republicans before -- though it hasn't done so in a mayoral race since 1968 -- but its support of DeSantis' momentum-gaining campaign 10 days before the election caught some off guard.

"I don't even understand why newspapers give endorsements," said Councilor Tonya Payne. "Their job is to report the news fair and unbiased."

The comments also brought an impassioned statement from indicted lame-duck councilor Twanda Carlisle, who expressed sympathy over Ravenstahl's trouble with the press. "You know I don't like the media," quipped Carlisle, who is slated for trial on corruption charges Nov. 13. "They do what they have to do to make the news for them."

But moving on....

The city will begin debating Shields' police domestic violence legislation on Oct. 31; a final vote is tentatively planned for Nov. 6. The legislation, which provides a zero tolerance policy for officers accused of domestic violence, is expected to change by the time the final vote rolls around after amendments are added. The legislation will likely bring more spirited debate between council members, the administration and the FOP.

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