Wednesday, March 7, 2007

All The Mayor's Men

Let me lead off with an apology for getting to this one so late tonight. It's bloody hard to keep up with blogging when the schools close over one or two lousy flakes of snow. I've been putting up with whiny crap from my offspring all day, and it's put me way behind on everything from work to cello practice to (obviously) blogging. In fact, I don't have an enormous amount of time to devote to the topic at hand, which is -- yet again -- police secondary employment, cost recovery, and the buffoonish ineptness that is our city government. But while I may have dropped the ball today, there are plenty of others here in the burghosphere, such as The Burgh Report, 2 Political Junkies, and The Ideas Bucket who have been leading the charge in my absence.

Today, as reported by the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh City Council finally got around to voting on the $200,000 legal settlement in the case of Werling v. Pittsburgh. This was the very case which formed the backdrop for the entire police secondary employment story, and it demonstrates precisely why Pittsburgh needs to collect a cost recovery fee from those businesses who hire off-duty police officers as private security guards. Our police officers are running their own businesses in their off hours, which is fine, but they expect the rest of us to foot the bill for most of the expenses required to keep these businesses afloat. As today's vote demonstrates, those costs can grow to enormous levels, and it's unfair for these police officers and their off-duty employers to expect our bankrupt city government to foot the bill.

Today, however, all but one member of our City Council acted like terrified little bunnies in the face of this issue. Only one of them stood up for the rest of us. The remainder formed a pack of terrified sheep and tried to do everything possible to keep this issue out of the spotlight. There was the nauseatingly familiar claim that, since this issues is a "personnel matter", it cannot be discussed in public view. There was some bullshit parliamentary maneuvering to prevent any discussion of shielding the taxpayers from future lawsuits by instituting a common sense cost recovery program. Two mayors, two police chiefs, a former FOP president, one federal judge, and a labor arbitrator -- not to mention five or six rabidly pissed-off bloggers -- have all agreed upon the clear need for such a program, but 8 of our 9 City Councilmembers are too terrified to even discuss the issue. And of course, there was the completely predictable claim that any discussion of a clearly important issue such as this one was merely "playing politics", and thus shouldn't be allowed to proceed.

Why on earth are nearly all of our Councilmembers so damn scared to tell us where they stand on this issue? Because they know that we are watching them. They know that blogs like this one won't let this scandal die. And they realize that they have absolutely nowhere left to turn. They can't risk irritating the current leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police by suggesting that Interim Mayor Luke "Flip Flop" Ravenstahl was wrong to eliminate the city's cost recovery program back in November. But they also realize, second-rate politicians though they might be, that there is no logical way to defend the interim mayor's actions without openly supporting the lavish fiscal raping of city taxpayers that his decision represents. There is no safe ground for them to occupy on this issue, and they know it. So they have responded by trying to bury it.

It isn't going to work. We aren't going away. We are tired of footing the bill for this bullshit. We want to see a sizable and significant cost recovery plan re-introduced for police secondary employment. We've run the numbers, and we know exactly how much any conceivable recovery program is likely to generate on an annual basis. We won't stand for anything that isn't going to cover 100% of the costs that police secondary employment creates for our beloved city. Eight out of nine City Councilmembers don't yet understand this. But they will, sooner or later, because this issue simply isn't going to go away.

While I rightfully castigate the eight Democrats who attempted to duck their responsibilities to the rest of us -- and while I direct particular scorn at Councilmember Jim "The Gas Thief" Motznik -- there was one lone voice on council who did manage to stand up for the average taxpayer today. Councilmember Bill "Cojònes" Peduto cast the one dissenting vote against placing this $200,000 bill onto the shoulders of the citizenry. He was the one person asking for specifics on what has become of the city's cost recovery program. He was the one brave voice asking why the officer who created this whole mess, and who was even fired for having lied under oath during his testimony about this incident, is still working as a police supervisor for the City of Pittsburgh. He is to be commended, once again, for doing what he could to stand up for the rest of us. It's just a shame that none of his colleagues have got the balls to support him in these efforts.

Today's performance in city council highlights, once again, that Bill Peduto is the odd man out in the Pittsburgh Democratic Party. While the rest of the party faithful continue to bury their heads in the sand and hope that the past is just around the corner, he is the only one who seems to be looking at our future. And the worst part of this whole situation is that they totally freaking hate him for doing so. They just can't stand the idea that their self-enriching, tax-base-destroying ways -- which have be standard practice in this city for decades -- might need to be altered in any way, and the resent like hell the fact that Mr. Peduto continues to shine his spotlight on their fiscal mismanagement. The old guard, and most of the local Democratic party hate his guts, simply because he has the guts to state the obvious.

Which is why Mr. Peduto should have seriously considered a divorce from this disatorous band of Democratic Party idiots. History will soon show whehter Mr. Peduto could have done more for his city, and more for the average taxpayer in Pittsburgh, by leaving this insular, nepotistic, and dysfunctional party behind him, and instead running for mayor as an independent candidate in the November general election. Such a strategy would have been risky and would enraged those who have so much invested in the status quo, but the same can be said for any revolution. There can never be, and will never be, anything revolutionary coming out of the local wing of the Democratic Party. And that's precisely why we need a mayor who is no longer a part of it.

Sadly, Mr. Peduto has decided to continue his quest for the Democratic mayoral nomination. I wish him luck with it. But I will forever lament what might have been, had we been able to get a mayor who was free of the partisan straight jacket.


Anonymous said...

Where can I get my "Bill Cojones Peduto" button?

Do you think that NOW the MSM will have the cojones to do a full cost recovery story? Bob Mayo? Andy Sheehan? Rick Earl? John Delano? Anybody out there? Helloooo?

It's this simple: A handful of officers claim that the taxpayers should carry the freight because off-duty work places more officers "on the street". Ha! It places them inside the Dirty O, inside banks, inside sports arenas, inside weddings, etc., etc., etc., i.e. THEY ARE PERFORMING PRIVATE SECURITY OR TRAFFIC CONTROL SERVICES FOR THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE BENEFIT OF A PRIVATE EMPLOYER IN 90% OF CASES! In the other 10% of cases, the direct benefit is to the private employer while there is an indirect benefit to the world at large - no different than the role of a private refuse service or private security company.
Cost recovery was good enough for Tom Murphy, Bob O'Connor, Chief Bob McNeilly and Chief Dom Costa, and it appears that Chief Nate Harper was also "moving forward" with the program - until (HERE IS THE STORY:) INTERIM MAYOR LUKE DISMANTLED THE PROGRAM!!!!!!!! HERE IS THE REST OF THE STORY: How much money has Luke cost the taxpayers by disrupting the program in November, 2006? If McNeilly's projection was that the City could make $500,000/yr, that means that in 4 mos. time, Luke cost the taxpayers approx. $166,000 - gee, that would've paid for almost all of the $200,000 settlement that was caused by yet another blunder by Luke - allowing Denny "I really have no cojones but don't tell anyone" Regan to reinstate Eggleton. Just roll some footage of Denny and Luke in a back room somewhere with a bubble above Denny's head that says "Here's what we're gonna do for Frank Rende"...

Maria said...

While I think the vast majority of your post is great, not only do I disagree that it makes sense for Peduto to run as an Independent, it's too late as he already filed for the primary as a Democrat. The deadline was yesterday.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Just watched R vs M on QED as hyped in my morning post. Whole show was about "we want our casino" and "we want hockey." It pains me to say it, but it doesn't appear that Pittsburghers care about ... things. At all.

Some Russia analyst on NPR recently explained Vladimir Putin's popularity in terms of what would people rather have, a free press or free sausages? Sausages win every time.

Maybe we few should just pack up our laptops and move to Richmond or Silver Spring, and let the altakahkers play bingo and wonder why their city is rusting.

Richmond K. Turner said...

Right you are, Maria. You see, this is precisely what happens when you spend all day locked up with a 6-year-old. Turns your brain to mush, I tell you.

Anyway, I've ammeneded the post to reflect that fact that the dream of an independent candiacy is dead. I would love to know -- and I don't say that in a snarky, deamanding kind of way -- why you think it would have been a bad idea for Bill to run as an independent. If nothing else, it would have given him far more time to reach a rather apathetic group of voters.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone can help me out here...if Mr. Peduto was so interested in getting answers then why was he not at either of the executive sessions held directly before the council meetings?

Richmond K. Turner said...

Probably because he wanted the answers for -- and was looking out for -- the rest of us, and was not merely thinking of himself. Unlike everyone else on council. But thanks for stopping by, Mr. Motznik.

Maria said...


As hard as it will be to win in May, I think it would be twice that hard to win in November in this town as an Independent.

Just the ugly facts.

And, speaking of ugly facts, think of how much more $$$ he'd need to carry a campaign on through November.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Motznik: You know it's illegal to discuss matters of public concern behind closed doors, i.e. it's one thing to hide behind the "personnel" exception, it's another to claim that Bill Peduto should have been present for a discussion about cost recovery that should've been conducted in the light of day - but what does a snake like you know about sunshine...slither back to the sewer you crawled out of

Anonymous said...

The 24-hour notice requirement of the executive session law was not met.

Richmond K. Turner said...

The 24-hour notice requirement of the executive session law was not met.

Oh really? Well now, that is quite interesting. So the Mayor and his lapdogs actually broke the law to hide this issue from the public? More details, please! If anyone can demonstrate when the executive session was announced and who was -- and was not -- told about it, then I would be happy to do a full post about it.

Anonymous said...

To determine whether the 24 hour notice requirement was met, the City should turn to its top lawyer. Oh, that's right, he is serving in violation of the Home Rule Charter. Our laws are so burdensome, this administration simply ignores them.