Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Peduto Reacts to McNeilly Settlement Talks

As reported tonight on KDKA, the settlement talks between the City of Pittsburgh, Interim Mayor Luke "Flip Flop" Ravenstahl, and Police Commander Catherine McNeilly are proceeding along at a steady pace. Today, the parties met behind closed doors with the Federal judge who is hearing the case. KDKA political reporter Jon Delano states that the case is getting ever closer to a settlement. The terms of the settlement -- as reported yesterday on KDKA (again, by Jon Delano), and with amplifying comments on both the Burgh Report and 2 Poltical Junkies -- are purported to include the following:

  • Ms. McNeilly's permanent reinstatement to Commander,
  • The city to pay Ms. McNeilly a cash payment somewhere under $100,000, and,
  • The city's acknowledgment of whistle blower protection for city employees
Tonight's report also brought a quick soundbite of response from Master Ravenstahl's challenger for the Democratic mayoral nomination, City Councilmember William Peduto:
I can't see, really, how the city can afford to go to trial on this. I mean, it's obvious that her constitutional rights have been violated by Luke Ravenstahl. ... There's no doubt that from flawed decisions come costly penalties.
I would have loved to see, hear, or read much more of what Mr. Peduto had to say. His comments were obviously edited for broadcast, and there clearly was far more to it than what was shown on KDKA. This is precisely why I detest television news. Nevertheless, KDKA's Jon Delano must be commended for providing the details on this settlement before anyone else, which is why I have no other choice but to pull Mr. Peduto's reaction from a broadcast story. The simple fact is that nobody else has gotten around to reporting these details yet.

Meanwhile, over in the comments thread to the post on the Burgh Report, Herr Burgher is reporting that the proposed amount of the cash settlement is rumored to be $70,000. There will almost certainly be additional funds heaped on top of that amount to cover Ms. McNeilly's legal fees. When you add in the cost of the city solicitor's time -- and possibly, for all I know, any amount that the city picks up to cover the cost of Master Ravenstahl's personal attorney -- this little blunder is likely to cost all of us at least $100,000, if not even more.

Master Ravenstahl keeps throwing away simply astonishing amounts of taxpayer money on what are clearly very poor and misguided decisions. Mr. Peduto is certainly correct in saying that there is no point in fighting this settlement. The city really can't afford to go to court, and we would probably lose the case for an even larger sum of money if we tried. But an even better idea would have been to simply grant Ms. McNeilly protection under the state's whistleblower laws to begin with. Mr. Peduto seems to have understood that point all along.

So we have yet another boneheaded move by Luke "Handcuffs" Ravenstahl, and all of the rest of us have to pay for it. What amazes me is that there are still some people, such as this anonymous commenter, who still seem to be anchored firmly in the "give the kid a chance" mindset. The good news is that they have almost three months before the election to pull their heads out of the sand.


Anonymous said...

Yes, the additional costs to the taxpayers for legal fees is something to watch. This appears to be a not so clever way to present a partial settlement to minimize the damage. Ordinarily, any settlement would include counsel fees. Otherwise, in cases like this, it does little to mitigate the harm to the City. Watch closely for details on how the fees are being handled. If the settlement did not include fees, it is nothing more than another PR stunt by Luke & co.

Smitty said...

admiral we had this dance last month....less that a 100,000 more than 75,000..this is old news..plus att'y fees

Richmond K. Turner said...

Ah, but Smitty, you are such a fine dancer that I just wanted to do it all over again!

By the way, do you have any idea what the legal fees are likely to add up to here. And does the city have to pay anything for Ravenstahl's personal attorney?

I'm thinking that it probably would. Mayors, whoever they are, must get personally named in lawsuits all the time. It would be impossible for them to cover all those legal costs on their own dime. He makes less than $100K per year, and that wouldn't go very far in any serious law firm.

But still, aren't there some kind of limits to what an employer can cover when an executive is personally sued? If he got into a car accident on his own time, we wouldn't cover his legal fees then, would we? So what are the limits?

Anonymous said...

The legal fees for this kind of case will approach $100,000 for Cathy McNeilly's attorneys; as for Luke's attorney, I can't remember the last time I ever heard of the City having to hire a lawyer for any mayor? The City attorneys usually handle the cases unless there is some allegation of criminal misconduct conduct by the mayor (e.g. the Murphy/King situation). That's one of the things that's so astonishing about the kid's situation - not only did he do something that is completely off the charts for a mayor, he managed to get himself in a jackpot in record time.

Smitty said...

Admiral,you may be a fine dancer,but Anon 925Am,got all the answers...

Anonymous said...

Here's a novel idea: why don't you, as a blogger, just call the Peduto campaign and ask for an interview? Given the tech-savvy nature of the Peduto camp and campaign, and the fact that so many favorable stories and investigations are coming via the blogs, I think they'd be amenable to it. Granted there's the whole anonymity issue, but perhaps another blogger who's out in the open could do it.