Rudiak in the eye of the (snow)storm | Slag Heap
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rudiak in the eye of the (snow)storm

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 2:49 PM

A short time ago, the office of Natalia Rudiak sent out a press release announcing that she's been named to a task force intended to study the latest skirmish in the "War on Snow": 

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak today was named to lead a task force convened by Council President Darlene Harris to look into the City's performance during the current snow emergency ...

"Four days after the storm there are still thousands of people across our City who are snowed in," said Rudiak. "People are angry that it is taking so long to get power restored and streets cleared, and there needs to be accountability."

The task force will initially convene later this week to begin its review. Until then, City Council will focus on helping the Mayor’s Emergency Operation Center with constituent calls ...

"We want to make sure we can dig out of this storm before we start getting too academic. We are in an emergency and we need to be focused on that right now,” Rudiak said.

I'm trying to find out who the other task force members are. Council offices seem a bit harried at the moment. (UPDATE: Rudiak's office is telling me that the task force full roster won't be set until week's end, but that it will include Harris herself as well as councilors Theresa Kail-Smith and Bruce Kraus, who chair council's Public Safety and Public Works committees, respectively.) 

For now, it's worth noting that this is the second time Rudiak has been put front-and-center of a controversial issue ... and she's been in office for only a month. The first time was during council's reboot of the prevailing wage issue. Rudiak shepherded a series of amendments to the bill, which got unanmious support (as it did last year). At the time, Rudiak didn't even have an office yet -- she was working from a conference room at the end of the hall.

But Rudiak's lack of tenure may be an asset: Given the controversial history of the prevailing wage bill, "Coming in here without any baggage was significantly helpful," she told me. 

How long that lasts remains to be seen, of course: Sometimes baggage gets attached to you, like it or not. And whther by design or not, there's a sort of good cop/bad cop dynamic taking place here involving Bill Peduto, a longtime foe of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. 

Peduto, of course, was the sharpest critic of Ravenstahl's New Year's Eve veto of the prevailing wage last year. And so far, the snow debate seems to be playing out in a similar way way -- with Peduto snapping at the mayor, and Rudiak emerging as a kinder, gentler progressive. 

Yesterday, after all, Peduto was firing off tweets that said things like

Call w/ Mayor at 230 -I'm not pleased with response -operation plan needs to be changed before next storm -not even certain what his plan is 

By contrast, in a blast e-mail sent out earlier today, Rudiak sent her constitutents a much less tartly worded message:

[W]hile it is evident that the City needs to change its emergency management system given the slow response over the last four days, our public works employees have been working 12 hour shifts, plowing more than 1,000 miles of City streets. I know how frustrating this storm has been, I was without power and my car is still banked in snow. But the men and woman who are working on the ground have been working very long and very hard hours to try to get the City up and running again and I applaud their efforts.

It's up to Public Works to melt the snow. We'll see how much luck Rudiak has with melting the ice.

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