Special Report by Adm. Richmond K. Turner of The Burgh Report - An investigative report has revealed that Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, in the earliest years of his life, was busily preparing for his current leadership role, while his opponents in next month's general election squandered these formative years in a variety of childhood scandals.
When asked for their first impressions of Mr. Ravenstahl, those who knew him as a child had nothing but glowing comments about the boy who would become Pittsburgh 's mayor.
"He could tell time when he was 3 years old," said North Side resident Dee Giffin Flaherty, 56, who has known Mr. Ravenstahl since he was 9 months old. "He would run into the kitchen and look at the clock. He told us what time it was, subtracted, and then said, 'Oh, we only have 40 more minutes to play.' He was 3!"
"I was the first person to tell him that he would be mayor of our city," Ms. Flaherty said. "And he was 13 years old at the time. He was no average kid."
Mr. Ravenstahl's former teachers offered similarly glowing assessments of his performance. "He was the first child in the class who could tie his own shoes!" exclaimed his first-grade teacher, Beatrice Gaunt of the North Side. "And his penmanship was incredible, too. While others were still using those big bulky pencils with no erasers on them, Luke was bringing his own No. 2 pencils from home, sharpened and ready to go!"
"Nobody could diagram a sentence like young Luke Ravenstahl," said fourth-grade teacher Hester Disimione. "He just had an uncanny ability to pick out prepositional phrases and identify the dependent clause. Don't even get me started about his knowledge of all the different verb tenses! That's why he's such a fine mayor for our city. Nothing is more relevant to good governance like a solid grounding in proper grammar."
"It took a while for me to find a nursery school that I felt comfortable in," remarked Mr. Ravenstahl, who transferred twice and attended three different day care programs before reaching school age. "But I'm proud of my finger painting, and I'll hold that against anyone else's and I'll continue to do so."
Mr. Ravenstahl's challengers, on the other hand, appear to have had less-than-exemplary records during their early-childhood education. Elementary school teachers of Republican nominee Mark DeSantis would not talk on the record, citing privacy concerns, but freedom-of-information requests (along with a few nighttime burglaries of Mercer County school offices) have provided the Carbolic Smoke Ball with copies of Mr. DeSantis's earliest report cards.
In kindergarten, Mr. DeSantis received disturbingly low marks in the areas of "shares with other children" and "nap time," prompting the teacher to note, "Mark has trouble staying on his mat during afternoon nap, and sometimes bothers the other children." Later that same year, the same teacher recorded that "Mark needs to hang up his coat when he comes into the classroom."
Later years weren't much better for Mr. DeSantis. His second grade teacher remarked, "Mark has forgotten or lost his milk money three times in the last two months," while his third-grade music teacher stated that he had "a lot of trouble matching pitch with his voice, and can't maintain the rhythm when clapping along with the autoharp."
Former grade-school teachers of Libertarian candidate Tony Oliva refused multiple requests to be interviewed for this article, claiming that that none of them ever remembered having him in their class.
Retired preschool teacher Margery Fletcher, who taught Socialist Worker's Party nominee Ryan Scott when he was three years old, could only shake her head when asked about her former student. "He was always on about something," she said. "One time, a group of some other kids got sent to the office for playing 'post office' over behind the monkey bars, and he thought this was some kind of grave injustice or something. Every time we would ask him if he wanted to play with the Lincoln Logs, he would refuse to do so until these other kids -- he called them the 'Playground Eight' -- were allowed to be on the monkey bars again."
Ravenstahl's current campaign workers seemed delighted that the media's focus had finally shifted to their candidate's record as a young child. "It's high time that somebody looked into this," said campaign spokesperson Danika Wukich. "I think that any objective voter would much rather have a mayor who, as a first-grader, could color neatly between the lines with his crayons. When you compare Luke's record with that of Mark DeSantis, who apparently sometimes forgot to take his lunchbox home with him, I think the choice is clear. That's why all of our advertising is focused on who Luke Ravenstahl was as a small little tyke, because that's really where leadership begins: constructing low-quality Mother's Day gifts, staying in line during the Halloween parade, and remaining quiet during nap time -- those are all things that a mayor needs to do."
"Besides," she noted, "at least Luke didn't wear those ridiculous horn-rim glasses that DeSantis had in junior high! I mean, c'mon!"
Mr. DeSantis's campaign had no comment for this article, and DeSantis representatives noted that "you must be joking" when contacted for their reaction.