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With Friends Like These ...

Even Ravenstahl's backers may be having doubts

Readers of this column may have noticed my propensity to attack our boy mayor, Mayor Luke "Opie" Ravenstahl. It's been argued that I've been far too tough on the kid.

But Opie is a jock-sniffer who will do anything to get close to big-time athletes ... and even more to play golf with them. Hence, his benefiting from a $9,000 charitable contribution by UPMC, made so that Opie could play golf with the likes of Joe Theismann and Sidney Crosby, whose jocks he sniffed.

The city Ethics Hearing Board will do nothing about the fact, because this town is full of high-minded, well-intentioned wimps. Sure, they know Ravenstahl doesn't care about impropriety, or even the appearance of impropriety. But confronting him would require a certain level of impoliteness, and these nonconfrontational do-gooders would rather analyze it than do anything about it. "This is a dialogue," with the mayor, Sister Patrice Hughes of the ethics board told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Well la-de-freaking-dah.

And I'm not the only one sick of Opie: County Executive Danny Onorato is sick of him, too. At least that's the rumor on Grant Street, publicized by the P-G's Rich Lord, who wrote about it a few weeks ago. Now, rumors are rumors, but let's not forget that the story of Opie's Heinz Field arrest also started out as a rumor. And even though Onorato denied a fracture in their relationship on my radio show, I'm going with the rumormongers. I mean, what's Danny gonna say?

Here is what's happening, according to the Grant Street buzz. Opie is sick of Danny because he doesn't want to be the little brother any more, despite once infamously referring to Danny as "the boss" at a Squirrel Hill campaign event. During the five-minute Democratic primary race that expired when Councilor Bill "Mr. Pedutohead" Peduto dropped out, Danny also allegedly showed up at other Opie campaign events uninvited. That, too, supposedly rankled the junior member of the Batman and Robin team.

According to the buzz, Opie and Danny also disagree on merging city and county functions. This could be primarily because Opie doesn't want to become irrelevant.

Meanwhile, Danny is sick of Opie because Opie keeps stepping on his dick, and it's getting downright embarrassing. Danny is also sick of Opie getting all the ink, because Danny wants to run for governor, and needs all the ink he can get. Danny was allegedly honked off when Opie took out billboards promoting Pittsburgh as part of the U.S. Open at Oakmont. Contrary to what's in Opie's head, you see, Oakmont is not in Pittsburgh.

Another thing reportedly driving Danny O crazy: Opie's propensity for telling reporters that while they treat him harshly for fiascos like the charity golf event, they use kid gloves with Dan, who also attended the golf outing. Dan helped Opie immensely with the endorsement, some mutter, and this is the thanks he gets? Opie daring reporters to rough his patron up a bit?

Some say it's not really a war between Danny and Opie, but a war between their staffs. The lackeys have apparently been monitoring one another's press announcements, jockeying for position and press attention. One staff issues a press release announcing a public appearance; the other follows shortly thereafter. Danny's gonna go out and feel sorry for some waterlogged Millvalers? Opie's gonna go out and feel sorry for some 'Burghers whose potholes are now full of H20, and so on.

So it might come down to who's got the bigger staff. I would have guessed Danny, but Opie does tend to step on his a lot, so the jury's out.

I couldn't get much on-the-record comment about all this, but one person who would talk a little bit is former would-be-Opie-slayer-turned-realist Mr. Pedutohead. "I was greatly disappointed when Dan came out so strong for Luke," said Councilor Peduto, still nursing his wounds from a stinging Democratic Committee endorsement defeat. Peduto thought he and Onorato shared values. I thought they shared having a brain, and that's probably why Danny wanted Opie -- so Pittsburgh's mayor would be under Onorato's control. And now he's paying the price. "I hear the rumors," says Peduto, "but I'm not in the circle."

Danny is growing tired of the inhabitants of this small circle. Opie is the circle jerk.

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