Elsewhere in this issue, we brought you our second-annual Shit List, which highlighted some of the crappiest elected officials currently serving our citizens. However, dealing with turds in public office isn’t something new for this region. In order to give our esteemed list historical perspective, here is the first class in City Paper’s Shit List Hall of Shame.
Luke Ravenstahl, Former Pittsburgh Mayor
He was the youngest person to ever serve as mayor of a large U.S. city, so it’s only fitting that the Democrat leads off this inaugural class of dingleberries. Ravenstahl would serve eight long years until he decided to halt his 2013 re-election campaign. He took over after Mayor Bob O’Connor died in 2006. Ravenstahl took a questionable trip on a millionaire’s plane; he used the old do-you-know-who-the-fuck-I-am trick to scam his way into a golf outing with Tiger Woods; he took a Homeland Security-funded police vehicle to a Toby Keith concert; a campaign donor was awarded a $250,000 URA contract despite being the highest bidder; Ravenstahl spent more than $250,000 in grant money to put his name on 250 city trash cans (yes, that’s more than $1,000 each); and he tried to place a 1 percent tax on university tuition that would go straight to city coffers. If we ever start a D-list (D = douche), I’m sure Ravenstahl will be the first inductee for that as well.
Jeff Habay, Former Pa. Representative
This Republican state rep from Shaler had one of the most loyal campaign staffs of almost any politician in the country. Unfortunately, they were loyal because they also worked on his state-funded legislative staff, and he forced them to do campaign work on the public’s time. Habay was convicted of that charge, which included threatening to take an employee’s health care if the worker didn’t march in a parade to campaign for Habay; and forcing state employees to hold campaign signs on election day and wave at passing motorists — a move that was dubbed the “Habay Wave.” The shittiest thing he did, however, was to accuse a constituent in 2004 — the one who requested the audit that led to the criminal conviction — of sending Habay a letter filled with suspected anthrax. The powder was baking soda, and Habay staged the entire thing. He was convicted on those charges as well, and served four additional months in prison. Today, Habay sells real estate and takes bit parts in movies filmed here (fun fact: he played a police officer in The Dark Knight Rises). Here’s hoping his movie work is more convincing than his anthrax performance.
Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator
An introduction to all the horrible shit former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has done over the years is really unnecessary at this point. He’s so anti-gay that syndicated columnist Dan Savage (whose work we proudly publish in this paper every week) and his readers turned “Santorum” into the name for the “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” Some of the more ridiculous things Rick Santorum has said include comparing homosexuality to bestiality, and saying that the fight against same-sex marriage is just like the fight against the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks: “We didn’t decide we wanted to fight the war on terrorism because we wanted to. It was brought to us.” He’s also against contraception, pornography, science of any kind and even legal immigration. He’s a turd of the highest order.
Darlene Harris, Pittsburgh Schools Board Member
Before you start writing nasty letters to the Hall of Shame Board of Directors alleging that Harris is both on the active Shit List and in the Hall of Shame, note that this designation is only for her work on the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board. (Truth be told, her city-council career will likely make this list in the future.) While Harris will say that she was only providing checks and balances on the school’s superintendents during her tenure, she thrived on micromanaging and nitpicking. She once took up a chunk of a board meeting arguing about the necessity of box lunches that were bought for student musicians who were invited by the governor to play at a function. She fought, often tooth-and-nail, with superintendents over every decision, be it the aforementioned school lunches or the necessary move to close neighborhood schools and consolidate students for the sake of efficiency and quality education for all students. She once even drafted, without any district input, a “housewife’s special” budget — which was passed — that included a plan for an annual telethon with the district’s faculty and students performing to raise money. The budget also slashed the pay of many district administrators while giving the board $1 million to hire consultants to double-check every decision school officials made, and reopened three neighborhood schools that together served fewer than 300 students. Luckily for the district, she was crushed by Patrick Dowd in the 2003 election. Unfortunately for city council, she resurfaced there three years later.