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OK, 'Burghers, it's time to play the political blame game. Give your best guess who's to blame for the sudden departure of Councilor Bill Peduto (a.k.a. Mr. Peduto-head) from the race to defeat Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (a.k.a. Opie).

Is the guilty party: (a) the mainstream media; (b) Mr. Peduto-head his own self; (c) 'Burghers who refuse to take off their rose-colored glasses; or (d) all of the above?

If you said (d), you're a freakin' genius.

Let's take a look at option (a). The media here is full of wimps. Oh, I sympathize with them. I've covered government before, and if you create too many problems, you get no access. But everybody here bends over backward to be "fair" -- a noble goal, but it often results in wimpy reporting that only hints at the underlying issues, without ever laying them on the line.

For example, it's outrageous that Denny Regan, former city operations director, re-hired a cop who'd been fired for beating up a guy. (The guy got smart with the cop when he was working security while off-duty.) What's outrageous is that the city solicitor tells us Regan didn't have the authority to hire him back ... and yet because he was hired back, the city can't fire him now. Huh?

I can't help but think that if this happened in a more journalistically aggressive town -- say, Chicago -- reporters would be shouting "What the fuck?" or a reasonable facsimile. Here, they shake their heads and say, "Well, that's the 'Burgh for ya."

The media has covered Opie's screw-ups, but it has also fawned incessantly over him. We've seen Opie on his birthday, Opie walking down the street, Mrs. Opie, cute little Opie, blah blah, blah. Makes ya wanna puke.

But what about option (b)? Many have suggested that Mr. Peduto-head is a wuss. Depends on how you look at it. He may not be the manliest man on the planet, but it did take some guts to get into this race in the first place, what with the media gushing every time someone changed Opie's diapers

Mr. Peduto-head complained that the media wasn't focusing enough on issues. Welcome to politics, Bill. The media pretends to love substance, but it really loves a horse race. The media loves a pissing contest. But to complain about it is a load of crap -- a load as big as Opie's claim not to remember where he went on his New York City jaunt with billionaire Ron Burkle.

No, Billy boy, the media wants you to say something provocative. Something. Anything. A scintilla of provocation. An interesting tidbit. You offered nothing. And I'm one of your biggest fans.

Of course, I'm also a media whore with a bias toward the provocative. But that's reality. Bill did not excite the media, or the populace, because he had nothing interesting to say, and that's mostly his fault.

So how can discriminating Pittsburghers make up their minds if all they see is happy-slappy Opie coverage, and Peduto doesn't do enough to give them anything else? Now we're onto option (c): Is the phrase "discriminating Pittsburghers" an oxymoron?

People have been coddling this kid like a new-born infant. They've refused to recognize obvious character flaws.

He demotes a police commander. A judge tells him he screwed up. Now the city has to pay her thousands of dollars. And no one cares.

He tries to promote the lummox who rehired the abusive cop -- so the lummox can be boss of the cops. It's discovered that the lummox is trying to prevent his buddy cops from being disciplined. And no one cares.

No one cares because this city has been on the decline for decades, and everyone has a misguided hope that Opie can magically reverse the trend just because he's young.

A colleague of mine said Mr. Peduto-head may be hoping Opie steps on his dick a few more times between now and November. That could allow Peduto-head to get back into the race as an independent. It's possible: Opie has big feet, and a propensity for dancing on his dick.

But for now, I see Opie in office until 2009. And I pray to God that by then, you 'Burghers wake up.

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