So, will 2010 witness the rise of a new, more elevated form of political discourse in city hall? A dialogue in which -- no matter how the final vote proceedes -- all participants feel their viewpoints are considered?
Maybe not. For example, on Monday city councilor Doug Shields sent out an e-mail notifying his colleagues that he'd be sponsoring the same prevailing wage legislation that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl had vetoed on New Year's Eve.
"Please let me know if you will be a co-sponsor of the attached legislation for introduction on Tuesday," Shields wrote.
Patrick Dowd -- who was the only member of council NOT to sign on as a cosponsor -- responded with an e-mail reply to everyone:
Thanks for the email and for the re-introduction of the prevailing wage bill. It is my hope that with a new year and a new council we can have serious discussion of the prevailing wage bill. As you know, in December I offered a number of amendments which, while admittedly not perfect in their construction, deserved discussion, debate and ultimately a vote one way or the other. I would hope that as the lead sponsor of the new bill you would guarantee at the outset that the bill and any amendments will receive ample time for deliberation.
Shields' response, also cc'ed to the group:
I have no interest in your amendments. I said as much last year and I see no point in being inconsistent on the matter. I have, in my own estimation, already spent ample time on the matter and I am very comfortable with the language I and all the rest of the Council, including you, already voted.
Given the contentious relationship between Dowd and others on council, this exchange is little surprise ... especially since Dowd's previous efforts to discuss the amendments didn't generate much interest. Even so, I can already see another confrontation forming up on the horizon.
Maybe make that two confrontations.
As noted here yesterday, Ravenstahl announced a handful of board appointments this week, including some key selections to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. But in council yesterday, councilor Bruce Kraus brought up a seperate concern. Kraus noted that neither he, nor Shields, nor Bill Peduto currently serve on any city-related authority boards or commissions. Kraus asked that a letter be sent over to the administration, asking when that situation might change.
Considering that Kraus, Shields and Peduto typically vote together -- and that Shields and Peduto are among Ravenstahl's toughest critics -- it might be awhile.
There's nothing in city law that says every councilor has to be appointed to an authority or city commission. But if Dowd -- who's been reappointed to HIS seat on the water authority -- feels shut out, he and Shields may have something in common after all.