Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bill Peduto's Online PAC

Today I attended the launch of Bill Peduto's online Political Action Committee at Podcamp. I think there were some mixed signals coming from the audience and the speakers (i.e. Bill & iJustine). I know that I had mixed feelings about this idea. Then, I logged into my e-mail and saw that there was an active discussion going on in the PghWomenBloggers e-mail list. There is an agreement that those e-mails are not public, so I will not re-post them. However, it's clear that a public discussion of this topic is overdue.

It was clear that iJustine has no prior experience in politics. I think the point that the PAC was attempting to make was that they wanted to attract new people to politics. However, they are also bringing in a young woman who is not knowledgeable about politics- a stereotype that many women in politics have been battling for years.

I think many people are wondering why Bill is involving iJustine.

Obviously, iJustine has been successful in terms of gaining attention from the online and traditional media outlets. If we are going to make the case that we are supporting a woman in her work for social media networking, why don't we also ask her to run for office?


I ask that everyone be respectful of both Justine and Bill Peduto in their commentary.

Agent Ska's Comment: I felt the sting of a stereotype that made me disappointed and upset.

**For those of you who missed this event, it may have been televised by iJustine. I camcorded it, as well.


-Agent Ska-


  1. Could someone explain what iJustine actually is for the less techy among us? I looked up her blog, and it just looks like an Apple commercial thing-ish? Is she in Pittsburgh? I'm not sure I really understand what the venture is with she (and another blogger?) and Bill Peduto--and, that's after I looked at his Reform Now site thing. Huh?

  2. ehrrin - She broadcasts herself online 24/7 ( She also has a (non?) traditional blog ( where she posts video clips and such of herself. She's recently received a lot of media attention (CNN, Fox News, Yahoo, etc.) for a clip of herself opening her new iPhone bill, which was 300 pages long. Yes, she's from Pittsburgh. I wish I knew more about her relationship with Peduto. I'm not sure about his issues myself.

    Agent Ska - I was very happy to hear your perspective, as I (unfortunately) missed that session. Were there specific topics that the panel highlighted? Can you upload your recording, or is it posted elsewhere? I would love to see it...I feel that it would offer a new POV (for myself also) of the situation.

  3. Ehrrin, as you can see I shared your confusion a few months ago.

  4. I am really confused. I've read over Bill's site a few times, but I still don't get how partnering the "new social media" and public policy has anything to do with iJustine or the Avenue Design folks who have a blog that hasn't been unpdated since May 2007 --is it rather like the campaign promises of many an elected official after the election - no updates?

    My fear is that the project is exploiting iJustine's social prominence for political gain, by tapping into traditional political roles for women (first lady stuff) - but not tapping political women to participate. Does that make sense?

    If tis true that Justine is not politically aware, what does she bring to the table? I ask that in all sincerity with no snark in my mind b/c I cannot get her site to load and only have limited exposure to her content.

    I do want to add that it is really sad to read how quickly viewers/readers to to the misogynistic nasty comments to keep iJustine in her place. Really sad.

  5. FYI: Justine is from Carnegie. She is an Allegheny County / Pittsburgh person.

    Bill Peduto will pay her (Justine & others perhaps) to make 'episodes' for his ReformPittsburghNow site.

    One hyped mention is Justine and Steve Bland on a PAT bus together. That's edge of your seat stuff. How much is that worth?

    Edutainment was mentioned by Peduto.

    Also mentioned was issues without personality.

    The signals are getting crossed, to say the least.

    I too blog about this hype and its signal / noise confusions.

    BTW, the Secret Agent did a wonderful job at PodCamp today (Sunday) leading a discussion on politics and the web with bloggs @N. Three cheers to you and Bram.

  6. I know Peduto has been trying to launch his grassroots efforts for years now and has tried everything he can think of to get his ideas rolling.

    I think it is very logical to get social media involved since it is a growing and exciting trend.

    I also attended this session and I think the picture that Peduto chose to feature Justine as being associated with the PAC says it all. Sex sells.

    I do not know Justine personally and I do not have the right to bash her. I respect her for being a woman of her word and following her passion. But, I don't know if playing into Justine's world of followers, whether they are lovers or haters, is the way to get the PAC moving.

    And, how could this impact Justine's life? Peduto said it himself, he is afraid she will be gone soon to LA or NYC because the call is eminent. Will her persona be attached to grassroots political campaigns in that sexy Angelina Jolie way? Will Bill Peduto be left in the dust like Billy Bob?

  7. Gloria -- Glad you suggested we bring this discussion to our forum.

    Agent Ska -- Do you have the video posted somewhere?

    Me -- Have coffee ... lots of coffee ...

    Those in the Society already know my general sentiments: this stunt (that's my take on it; feel free to disagree) leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    And ultimately, with or without iJustine, I honestly believe Bill Peduto -- no matter how bright I think he is -- will never be mayor of this city for a number of reasons.

  8. Ms. Mon, perhaps those in the closed society know what you think. But, those on the outside don't.

    Hint: Spill the beans. Forget the coffee.

    The potential to do something good is there. Or not.

    Bill said he would 'let his guard down' with this endeavor. Well, if he also has a dip in his thinking, he'll have two black eyes and a bloody lip.

    Bill's double talk about his efforts on the internet is going to get him 'beat up online.'

    A women put it to me this way. Bill's lack of personality (I'll insert online persona, online presence) can't be overcome with iJustine's wealth of personality.

    Bill's pledge to blog (and we all know that blogging needs to be done on a regular basis) is a joke when the first TalkShoe interaction won't be until the middle of next month. His FIRST! Jeepers.

  9. First off, let me state that I have a philosophical problem with "broadcasting your life," so I'm biased to begin with. Whether you're beautiful or ugly ...

    Technology will be the death of us all.(Insert dramatic, foreboding pipe organ music here.)


  10. I spoke with Bill, in person, yesterday. I decided to ask the following three questions:

    1. I feel worried about the fact that you have chosen a woman who is not knowledgeable about politics to be a co-host. This is worrying to me because of the fact that so many women in Pittsburgh politics battle this stereotype on a daily basis.

    2. Are you planning to run for office again?

    3. Have you considered the possibility that the majority of people reached by the iJustine site could (potentially) be male?

    I think it's perfectly acceptable if others with questions email their questions.

    I would post the answers, but it turned into a really long discussion.

    -Agent Ska-

  11. The reform Pittsburgh thing is new, it is a gamble. Taking a chance on something new and different has never been Pittsburgh’s forte.

    The proof will be in the pudding. Will people participate? Will people be motivated to vote, to stay on their elected leaders until reforms are put in place? Will people contribute to the PAC? Will people who previously hadn’t given a damn about politics get involved?

    We’ll find out as time passes.

    One thing’s for sure – the website’s launch has generated quite a bit of conversation.

    #1. I was Peduto’s Deputy Campaign manager on both of his mayoral campaigns. Most of you already know that –

    #2. I have dial-up & it takes so long to download anything, that I haven’t seen iJustine, or any of the You Tube links people send me, nor do I have any interest in doing so. But, then again, I know that this stuff is not geared to 52 year old women, so it all works out. For the record, I have no interest in getting any body part pierced, nor do I wish to engage in anything remotely related to (ugh) Extreme Sports, or to drink something called Red Bull or learn text messaging shorthand and, worse yet, use it in actual conversations.

    These are my opinions, no more, no less. I am in no way suggesting that people shouldn’t question what Peduto or Onorato, Hilary Clinton, Tonya Payne, Catherine Baker Knoll, Alan Hertzberg, et al., do. Rather, I’d like to understand different points of view and hopefully, some of you will want to understand mine.

    How did the 5 people who launched this site happen get selected? Two for political knowledge: Peduto & his former Campaign Manager, Matt Preston. Three for their tech knowledge & accomplishments in cyberspace: Justin, John & Justine. None of the 3 Js has political experience, but they are successfully using the internet to reach lots & lots of people.

    Every project I’ve worked on included people who have diverse skills. These people haven’t needed to be experts on everything, their involvement depended upon their specific skills. I haven’t considered myself exploited in these situations, rather I’ve been professionally gratified that the skill set I have was put to good use.

    Each of us is good at one or more things, but we understand that we need to bring in people with diverse skills to make projects work.

    The 3 Js are reaching people that haven’t been involved in politics, Peduto wants to reach these people, so he brings on the 3Js.

    The 3Js provide a method to reach millions with the Reform Pittsburgh message, millions who normally wouldn’t hear/care about it. In my opinion that’s a good thing.

    As to who the audience for reform pgh. will be, what age, what gender, what part of the country, I don’t know, are there any stats on who watches productions by the 3Js? By virtue of it being on the internet, there are absolutely no geographical boundaries for participants. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is it possible to target specific demographics on the internet, without some kind of closed site that requires passwords, etc.?

    I like the idea that the discussion about Pittsburgh’s future may be going on, among all kinds of people, all over the world.

    Again, before I close, these are my thoughts on the issues, they are NOT intended to censure or close down any dissent. I am glad that there’s a forum for me to share my opinions & to learn your thoughts.

    Finally, someone on another blog suggested that the people supporting Peduto’s efforts, are quickly becoming “hacks” hanging around for a paycheck. I am not on the Peduto payroll and haven’t been for months. The commentator must be joking or incredibly naïve, because the pay for local campaign staffers is pitiful. I’d have made at least as much money, with a hell of a lot less aggravation & stress, selling coffee at Starbucks, rather than working on campaigns.

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  13. Interesting to read comments that want to pit The Society bloggers against Justine. That completely misses the point and diminishes all women, regardless of their technical skills, appearance or, yes Gloria, their age.

    Just another reason why we need The Society.

  14. Great discussion, but I feel like there's still so much information to consider that isn't yet accessible. For example,

    This "Reform Pittsburgh" website has been launched, correct? Is this If so, how come all I see is a small banner at the top? No relevant information yet?

    Jennie said that Bill has chosen a picture to feature Justine as being associated with the PAC. Has this been unleashed anywhere yet? Or is it still in the making?

    Agent Ska - I second that the panel was fantastic. I know that you mentioned that your conversation got long with Bill (and I admire the questions you asked), but did he seem uneasy at all when answering? I be interested to hear how he's explaining himself.

  15. I think anytime I question a politician they get uneasy haha. I had to repeat a couple of questions- I wasn't moving until he answered them.

    As he said, feel free to call or email him anytime.

    He's an elected official, after all.

  16. I just emailed him and asked him to sit down with The Society.

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  18. Rachel- during the session on Saturday, they showed an email that went out to some distribution list, probably Peduto's, that had a picture of Justine and Peduto's logo featured announcing the paring. You can see the pic here on Bram's blog: Link

  19. You mean The Society isn't on his email list? Out of 14 bloggers, none of us received it?

  20. He chose THAT picture?!

    Are you SERIOUS?

    Excuse my surprise, but...


  21. FYI Rachel, the website is at

    There is a first video up, but it takes over five minutes to load even with DSL, so open another window and be patient.

    I have changed my opinion about eleven times since I heard about this collaboration. I am really impressed you all are tackling the subject.

    It must be very frustrating being a politician sometimes. It's like, you agree with my agenda, right? You agree with where I'm trying to take the city? Then why can't you just play along?

  22. I agree with Agent Ska if you have questions, contact both Bill and Matt Preston, who is managing the project.

    They can be reached at:

    Peduto -

    Preston -

  23. I received the press release, but my company was busy finishing proposals and websites so I didn't have a chance to blog it.

    In fairness to team Peduto, I do not think they are hacks.

    As I've said, please please please be respectful of others.

    I know that it can make some people really upset.

    Take a deep breath before hitting the "publish" button.

    I know I need 10 breaths..and maybe a couple days before posting things.

    I have a temper that I try to control.

  24. And now, for a moment of comic relief: