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Bunker Mentality

Mayor has a hard time admitting mistakes

When you're the mayor of a city, you're someone that, theoretically, we're supposed to be proud of.

What can you say about Mayor Luke "Opie" Ravenstahl? He does embarrassing things. But does it matter? Most Pittsburghers don't seem to think so.

The latest embarrassment was very much like the other ones: a self-inflicted wound caused by bad judgment. According to various news accounts from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, KDKA-TV's intrepid reporter Jon Delano, and the stuff you read on the blogopshere -- and I believe everything I read on the blogosphere -- Ravenstahl is apparently obsessed with Tiger Woods. He has acknowledged being a golf freak, and has said he'd like nothing more than to meet his hero, Tiger.

That's fairly normal. A 27-year-old kid who likes golf wants to meet the Babe Ruth of golf. Fine. So when Opie heard that his hero was at Oakmont Country Club in April, practicing for the U.S. Open, he had his staff call Oakmont.

Can Opie come out and play with Tiger? they asked.

"We'll get back to you," was the reported reply. Only they didn't.

Usually, that's a sign they don't want you there, but can't think of a diplomatic way to tell you so. Instead of taking the hint, however, Opie decided to go out to Oakmont anyway.

Now, if you knew your favorite celebrity was someplace nearby, you might take a run at seeing him/her and getting an autograph. But when you're the mayor of a city, it's different. What you do reflects on us: You're someone that, theoretically, we're supposed to be proud of.

And that's why it's so embarrassing that Opie headed out to Oakmont unannounced. And to talk his way past security guards and club officials. And to somehow appropriate a golf shirt issued by American Express (the sponsor of the luncheon), so he looked like he belonged on the green when he weaseled his way there. And to violate requests reportedly made by event organizers not to bother Tiger or ask him for a picture.

Yet it seems Opie did all of that.

Opie has explained that an ESPN reporter introduced him to Tiger, as if that makes it OK. But the sponsors asked him not to bother Tiger. They didn't say, "... unless you can find a TV sports anchor to introduce you, and then knock yourself out."

It cost $900 to get into this event. That's why some of the American Express cardholders were irked when Opie got in without paying. Oakmont officials were irked because they hadn't invited him, and he'd created an awkward situation for them.

Much of this account is based on Delano's anonymous sources, but Oakmont has not stepped forward to throw cold water on these reports, which I believe. And it's not just because I'm inclined to think Opie is a goof. Why would the Oakmont club want the kid mayor out there? They had real celebrities to deal with, and real rich people. They like to hang with their own kind -- not some kid from the North Side who became a local celebrity because the previous mayor died unexpectedly, and he was next in line, after some idiocy in city council inexplicably made the kid council president.

Again you're asking: Why does this matter? Well, it's the pattern. The pattern of strange activity followed by spinning that, in my view, involves lying. Last year, Opie told KDKA's Marty Griffin and WPXI's Rick Earle that he had never been involved in an incident with police and handcuffs in a sporting arena. Turns out he was: He'd been handcuffed on Halloween Night 2005 at Heinz Field when he was a mere councilman.

"He got into an altercation with a cop," people say. "So what?" The thing is, he hid the truth about it. Just like he was trying to hide the fact that he'd been in New York with billionaire Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle earlier this year. Then he said he couldn't remember where in New York he was with Burkle -- where they ate and drank, where he stayed. Can't remember?  He's either an idiot or a liar. I'm guessin' the latter.

This time, he acknowledges he wasn't invited but says he was welcomed. Huh?

It's never a single embarrassing incident that does a politician in; it's always the attempt to cover the incidents up ... and the pattern of incidents which need covering up in the first place. Can't wait till he steps on his dick again.

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