Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Carlisle Arrested... uh, Detained... uh, Something

The Tribune-Review is reporting that Pittsburgh City Councilmember Twanda Carlisle will be arraigned this morning in District Court. She is facing charges of theft and criminal conspiracy. At the moment, there are no specific details about the criminal offenses that Ms. Carlisle is alleged to have committed. District Attorney Stephen Zappala is not commenting, but his office has been investigating Ms. Carlisle for some time now, ever since last year's referral to his office from the city's Law Department. According to the Tribune-Review, the investigation has broadened considerably since this referral was made, a grand jury has been looking into the matter, and charges against other individuals remain possible.

The timing of these events, coming just one month prior to the Democratic primary, must really suck for Ms. Carlisle. Of course, she -- and everybody else -- knew that things would get to this stage at some point prior to the primary. But she must have been hoping that her perp walk would take place earlier in the year, to give her campaign some time to recover from this blow.

Time will tell whether these events will have any impact on the election. Obviously, they hurt Ms. Carlisle's chances. But she still faces an enormous number of challengers (seven at last count) for her seat on City Council. Depending on how far the anti-Carlisle vote is split among these many faces, she could still pull this one out. To his credit, the endorsed Democrat in the race, Rev. Ricky Burgess -- pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Homewood -- is not making Ms. Carlisle's legal problems a central issue in his campaign. Indeed, all he has had to say on this matter is that he is "... praying for her and her family in this difficult time". Maybe a healthy dose of Christian charity is precisely what Pittsburgh politics needs at the moment.

Those who enjoy semantic gymnastics, the bending of legal definitions, and the twisting of logic into unrecognizable new forms will probably be treated to quite a show later on today. I can only imagine that Ms. Carlisle -- much like Interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl did when his Heinz Field handcuffing became public -- will attempt to claim that these events do not constitute an arrest. Despite the fact that she has been formally charged with a criminal offense in a court of law, she will probably note that she surrendered voluntarily and was never handcuffed, and thus she was never "arrested".

One councilmember is forcibly detained by police and handcuffed, but that's not an arrest, at least as he tells it, because he was never charged with a crime. Another is charged with a crime, but without the drama of being forcibly detained and put into handcuffs. That probably won't be an arrest, either. Ain't Pittsburgh politics fun?

UPDATE: The Post-Gazette has posted some details regarding the specifics of the charges, including this fascinating tidbit:

An affidavit filed by Det. William Miller of the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office indicates that on 50 occasions, Ms. Carlisle made cash deposits into her personal bank account at Dollar Bank within one day of one of the consultants cashing a city check. On 13 other occasions, she made cash deposits within two days of one of the consultants cashing a city check.
She could have at least been a bit more subtle about the whole thing, and waited more than a day or two to deposit the kickbacks into her personal bank account.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now maybe Stevie Z will have time to focus on Jim Motznik's conduct in gasoline-gate...

Char said...

The PG has a few more details regarding the nature of the charges in this arrest ...uh, detainment ....uh, something.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07101/776933-100.stm

Maria said...

"She could have at least been a bit more subtle about the whole thing, and waited more than a day or two to deposit the kickbacks into her personal bank account."

That would have required more thought and less greed.

Anonymous said...

Well... since the Reverend Burgess can only pray for her and her family makes you wonder if that’s how all the problems of the district will be handled. (with a little prayer)

Prayer and Politics, what a mixture?

Any thoughts on the subject?

Smitty said...

Motznik's immune to prosecution.He's part of the team.

The Burgher said...

i wonder if the MSM will investigate other electeds more aggressively or view this as a single incident.

Maybe this can start a "pay raise" like focus on local government corruption.

Char said...

I wonder if Luke et al will now be sorry they didn’t appear to take a stronger stand on “invoice oversight” when the Twanda thing first broke. Remember? Peduto/Shields wanted invoices $1000 or above to be scrutinized. Luke/Motznik & Posse said $10,000 and above was “good enough”. Luke also was high and mighty saying he would “personally” review any suspect invoices. (I guess that was good news for Motznik & Posse)

I also wonder if now is not the time for the Ethics Board to come to light. Maybe they should suggest a more thorough look at the spending/invoicing habits of the others? Luke included?

Anonymous said...

It's just plain funny that Luke annointed himself the fiscal watchdog of council through his legislation last year. Just what we need in charge of finances, a liar.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Most of my sources indicate there are only four serious candidates for that council seat: Carlisle, Burgess, Kirkland, and Taylor. And even then, Taylor's kind of the spoiler.

The danger is that the community might backlash against Carlisle's persecutors -- why do they have to go after HER, right before the election?

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see a review of ALL city contacts with consultants from ALL departments. They may not be technically breaking the law, but there are likely a few Ethics Code infractions to be found.

Matt H said...

The allegations seem like they will hold some serious water. It's amazing that she actually still might win her seat back. Anything is possible in District 9. Even through all of this she still has solid support in the District by some of the movers & shakers. I'm going to blog on this story tomorrow night at some point.