Memo to the Post-Gazette: Fire Wasaleski and Norman NOW!
In today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, assistant editor Tony Norman writes a "boo-hoo" column about all the heat the paper's editorial board is taking for not writing critically about corruption in city government. In fact, the P-G bears heavy responsibility for many of the area's problems, including the dismaying situation in the violence-infested Black community and the de facto establishment of one-party government in Allegheny County.
I have condemned Tony Norman, an African-American, in the past for his lack of concern about the widespread misery in Pittsburgh's Black neighborhoods. We have a lot of such areas, since our community is about as segregated as Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s. Violence -- murders and assaults, mainly on young Blacks -- is a constant presence.
A couple of years ago, after a period when a young Black woman had been raped and abandoned in a cemetery by four Black males and another young woman, a top student at Westinghouse, had been killed in a drive-by shooting, Tony Norman wrote a column.
No, it wasn't about the above outrages, it was about the wonders of Barack Obama. Norman was excited by Obama's message, then as now, one loaded with generalities about "The Audacity of Hope." At the time, I noted the young woman who'd been viciously raped and the one who'd been murdered were neither audacious nor hopeful. Year-in-and-year out, dozens of young Blacks are gunned down in our streets, but to the Post-Gazette that seems to be just an inevitable fact of life rather than what it really is: the continuing destruction of Pittsburgh's Black community.
The same week as Norman's puff-piece about Obama, Jesse Jackson came to town. Perhaps he was here to express his dismay at the rape and killing? No, he was on a (photo op) bus tour dealing with "Poverty in Appalachia." If he wanted to visit truly impoverished places, I'd suggest first Pittsburgh's Black communities -- and then the editorial board of the P-G.
On another occasion, elementary-age children in Homewood were afraid to go to school because of the many drive-by shootings. I demanded that the Governor call out the National Guard to protect those children -- a step he did not take. As for Tony Norman, well, he lives not in Homewood but in Squirrel Hill, where it's safe for children to walk to school.
As for the Post-Gazette editorial board overall, it has played a central role in taking Allegheny County politics to where it is now, an undemocratic, one-party system. Under the leadership of editorial page editor Tom Wasaleski, the P-G has used its power to ensure that we have democracy in name only.
When our politicians -- from John Murtha to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl -- misbehave, the P-G sometimes chides them. More often, it says nothing.
Of course, the result of one-party rule is that have a Culture of Political Corruption, with a steady stream of Democratic politicians (including the Sheriff and his key aides, various City Council types, a former Mayor, and the long-time head of the county's Democratic Party, as well as several judges) being either indicted or otherwise cited for violating the public trust.
In the recent past, one state legislator much favored by the Post-Gazette provided a much-remembered response to a (recorded) exchange where someone asked him if the main role of elected office was not to serve the public. The legislator's response was "F--k the public." That was Mr. Gigliotti, later led off in leg-irons.
Now, we have "a young mayor," Ravenstahl, who appears to a seasoned practitioner of "the old corruption." He appoints a cyncial deal-maker, Dennis Regan, as head of the Public Safety Committee. When an outstanding policewoman, Catherine McNeilly, complains about Regan's improper use of influence in police matters, the "young mayor" approves her demotion. Later, she sues, the City loses, and she gets reinstated, reportedly with the city getting ready to pay her a six-figure settlement.
Sounds like we should be voting out the "young Mayor," right? Well, in Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, voting is more a symbolic gesture than an electoral statement.
Will the P-G endorse Luke Ravenstahl, the only candidate running for Mayor? Is the Pope Catholic? Yes, Ravenstahl, inexperienced, ethically challenged, and obsessed with celebrities, has no Democratic opposition and no (token) Republic opposition. Apparently, he can be Mayor Forever.
Republicans should stop playing along with the occasional appearance (if not the reality) of a democratic politics. In fact, we're a one-party community, and it's time for Republicans to stop getting 20% of the votes in elections and go on to more worthwhile endeavors. Raking leaves would be superior to participating in political shams.
In an editorial a month ago, the P-G mentioned that Gov. Rendell has proposed six tax increases, all of which he'd forgotten to mention in his campaign against African-American Lynn Swann. Of course, the paper thought that he might be moving too quickly (!!!!!!) and that perhaps he should delay some of the tax increases.
In fact, if Ed Rendell had proposed 66 increases -- or 666 -- during his campaign, the P-G would still have endorsed him. After all, Lynn Swann, one of the finest people I've ever met, was a (shudder) Republican.
Republican candidates dutifully go in for "interivews" with an editorial board supposedly weighing which candidate to endorse. Hint: it's the DEMOCRAT folks.
Consider the experience of Republican Diana Lynn Irey, campaigning in 2006 against Congressman-For-Life John Murtha. When the P-G editorial board inteviewed her, they treated her with contempt. They did everything but stick her head in the toilet. The atmosphere was one of: "How dare you run against the sainted John Murtha!?"
As she retreated from the P-G Building, one newspaper staffer (Bill Toland?) sought to comfort her -- and apologize for the behavior of his colleagues.
The proper response -- the decent one -- for the board was to say: "Look, Diana, we don't support conservative candidates, even when they're running against someone universally regarded as corrupt, like John Murtha. But we do want to salute you for making the democratic process something other than a sham. We realize the time and effort you're putting into this campaign to raise issues in which you believe deeply."
Sadly, Tony Norman and Tom Wasaleski don't have the cojones to say anything stand-up to a fine person like Diana.
It's time for Republicans to stop providing nominal candidates who are nothing more than fig leaves for an undemocratic and thoroughly corrupt process. In this area, "Republican opposition" is an oxymoron.
Republicans should not to present themselves for "show trials" with the P-G editorial board. In fact, don't stand for office at all in a climate where media editorialists are nothing more than a cheering squad for Democratic candidates, many of whom have the ethical substance of a cockroach.
It's time for Republicans and others who believe in competitive, fair elections to just say NO!