Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Luke Ravenstahl Appears Before City Ethnic Board

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl insisted to members of the city Ethnics Hearing Board today that there was nothing wrong with his racial heritage, but board officials said they may want new rules clarifying such matters.

Mr. Ravenstahl attended a board meeting by invitation, rather than in response to any complaint, to address issues that arose from his participation in the City's Saint Patrick's Day Parade, Columbus Day parade, and the Kennywood Polish Heritage Day.

Ethnics board members did not accuse the mayor of misconduct but raised questions about the perception that such conflicting displays of ethnic heritage would lead to confusion amongst residents. The board plans to propose new guidelines that could cover public appearances and discuss them with the mayor, said the board's chairman, Sister Mary Patrick Murphy.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Vice Chairman Rabbi Shlomo Rabinowitz raised questions about the Mayor's ethnic heritage.

"I mean, 'Ravenstahl'? What kind of name is that? Hungarian, I think, but it sounds sort of German."

"It's not German," retorted committee member and Troy Hill resident Hans Schlitterbahn," Polish maybe.

"Don't start with that again, Hans," responded Polish Hill resident Brygida Wiśniewski.

The Mayor has been under fire over the last few days following the poor turn out for the Pittsburgh DiverCity Festival. Organizers have blamed the Mayor's poorly established ethnicity for dragging down the event.

"O'Connor, Murphy, Caliguiri... heck, even Masloff, you knew what they were," said long time Bloomfield resident and DiverCity organizer Antonio Andolini. "But, Ravenstahl? I don't know."

Hill District activist Kerubo Mfume has called on the Mayor to effect real ethnic change in his policies.

"If the Mayor is not willing to associate himself with any ethnic or racial group, that is his choice, but it is a deliberate slap in the face to a city that prides itself in its rich diversity. The denizens of the City of Pittsburgh must stand up and take note."

While the City Ethnic Board is powerless to enforce any ruling, it will probably make a formal recommendation to Pittsburgh City Council that the Mayor officially change his name to "Alan Reese-Smith," take up golf, and summer in the Hamptons. An official ruling will be issued Thursday.

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