Thursday, April 12, 2007

McNeilly to Publish an Open Letter in The Post-Gazette

With her Federal lawsuit against the interim mayor and the police chief now settled out-of-court, Police Commander Catherine McNeilly has come out swinging, and swinging hard. In the settlement, she was personally awarded the sum of $85,000. Ms. McNeilly has now, according to a report which aired this evening on WTAE, spent $4,000 of that money to purchase space in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for an open letter to all city residents. To her credit, she does not plan on keeping much -- or possibly any -- of the taxpayer's money. And she sounds like she is still one very pissed off police officer.

According to WTAE reporter Bob Mayo's personal blog, the letter will not appear in the Post-Gazette until sometime next week. But it's already been posted on the WTAE website. Here is what Ms. McNeilly has to say:

To The Citizens of the City of Pittsburgh:

I have been asked if I am "happy" with the terms of the settlement in the suit that was filed against the City of Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Chief Nate Harper for my actions that were taken in good faith and in the public interest, according to the law.

The situation deteriorated because of undue influence by an individual or individuals who, because they were unelected, were unaccountable to the public.

What began this whole series of events was an attempt in the legitimate and routine performance of my duties as a Zone Commander to initiate disciplinary action against an officer who was abusing sick time and secondary employment privileges to the detriment of his fellow officers, but more importantly -- to the public safety.

The irony of this entire charade is that not only does that officer remain undisciplined to this day, but he is enjoying the salary, benefits and elite status of "acting detective." He is presently assigned to the unprecedented and untouchable "Office of the Assistant Chief of Operations," and is still enjoying the privilege of working secondary employment.

In essence, his actions have been rewarded rather than reprimanded, and they continue.

Another intimately involved individual remains in an influential and sensitive position within the Mayor's Office, making her privy now, as she has been throughout, to all aspects of this situation.

Because this has been allowed to continue, and absolutely no effort has ever been made to move her from the sensitivity of the Mayor’s Office throughout this ordeal, I was, and remain convinced that this administration genuinely believes there has never been any wrongdoing emanating from that office, regardless of what has been said in Federal Court.

I would be greatly disappointed if State Attorney General Tom Corbett (in charge of the Public Corruption Unit) or U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan chose to ignore the findings of the Federal Court when it was emphatically noted that my case was about "wrongdoing and improper and undue influence by the Mayor’s Office in the Police Department matters," and not about corruption in my police department, especially in light of the fact that so much remains unchanged to this day.

I can only hope that our Criminal Justice System has duly noted the Federal Court’s findings, and I have faith and confidence that the system will take up the task of realizing, undertaking and completing what the Temporary Injunction Hearing was not intended to accomplish.

I would like to express my admiration of the Honorable Judge Donnetta Ambrose for the meticulous and diligent attention that was paid to every detail presented in the grueling testimony during this hearing, and for the professional and expeditious manner in which a ruling was brought forth.

I do not intend to become enriched personally as a result of this redress of justice.

So that the public's investment of their tax dollars in this settlement (some of which are my own tax dollars) are not totally fruitless, I have sought financial advice and have decided to create an endowment from the monies of the settlement, the proceeds of which shall, in years to come, be donated to several, various charities.

Since their names have figured so prominently and involuntarily in the events of this incident, my husband, former Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Chief Robert McNeilly, and my brother, Father Lou Vallone, have joined me in making personal and non-tax deductible donations to these endowments.

My attorneys, Mr. Timothy O’Brien, Esquire and Mr. Witold Walczak, Esquire, have joined me in making personal and non-tax deductible donations to these endowments as well.

I would invite Mayor Ravenstahl, Chief Nathan Harper, Solicitor George Specter and Mr. Michael Kennedy, Esquire of the City of Pittsburgh Law Department and Mr. William Goodrich, Esquire (Mr. Ravenstahl’s personal counsel) to likewise make personal donations to worthwhile charities of their choice.

Some of the charities that will ultimately benefit from the closure of this incident include:

  • The ACLU ~ who dedicated innumerable resources to insuring the preservation of 1st Amendment rights and its pertinence to this case;
  • North Side Common Ministries (since I was able to return to my position as Commander of Zone 1 – North Side);
  • St. John of God Parish (where my brother, Fr. Lou Vallone, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Chaplain, is Pastor), St. Pius Church in Brookline, the Passionist Convent in Carrick and Asbury Heights Retirement Community (for all their support, prayers and for believing in me);
  • Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc., (C.O.P.S.);
  • The Allegheny Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The settlement has addressed -- to a degree -- the injustice done to me personally for my actions that were taken in good faith and in the public interest, according to the law.

But this was only a redress for a time consuming and expensive diversion from the core issues.

I accept it only so that I may put an end to the distraction that has been caused by this episode, and resume what I was in the process of doing throughout my 29 year career with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police as a law enforcement officer...

... To serve the citizens of Pittsburgh with accountability, integrity and respect.

Catherine R. McNeilly

Obviously, Ms. McNeilly is still very unhappy with the administration of Interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. While she names no names, she clearly believes that the same inherent problems which led to her lawsuit are still present in the mayor's office, even if Dennis Regan is no longer employed there. Her call for further investigation by state and federal law enforcement is especially interesting. Even her pleas goes nowhere and result in no action against the Ravenstahl administration, they will tar the mayor's office with the suggestion of ongoing corruption.

Stay tuned, dear readers. Stay tuned.


Char said...

You know .... I'm even getting tired of hearing myself say this ... Where is the Ethics Board? I mean even for Pittsburgh .... their absence, silence, missing in action status is getting way weird. I guess its maybe time to get their names, look up their home phone numbers, give them a call and ask them myself.

Anonymous said...

Char - it's ridiculous. The blogs have called it consistently from the beginning - Luke is a lazy fratboy with no desire to do anything but play bigshot. There's little or no substance behind anything he represents and, with certain exceptions, the MSM has fallen hook, line and sinker for his circus act. There's absolutely no excuse for his delay in convening the Ethics Board. Maybe he's spending too much time oggling the girls at McFadden's...or the girls on that plane...or...nevermind - he's spending way too much time reaping the perks of his office and virtually none rolling up his sleeves and doing the hard work.

The Burgher said...

The State Ethics Board needs to examine Regan ordering Costa to promote Rende!

Anonymous said...

They should also investigate Regan ordering Zone 3 cops to back off on the Duke's Tire situation and threatening the Zone 3 commander.

Smitty said...

I've heard that even Grannie's get oggled at McFadden's!!But that's for the entertainment section.

Too bad Opie doesn't have a primary opponent.The courage that Commander McNeilly continues to exhibit in the face of what you have to believe is an increasingly hostile work place is what we should expect from our political leaders.

There's still time Bill? "Lean on me, when you're not strong,And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on." Bill Withers

Last night you said on WQED's
"On Q" that you have a field operations of 900 volunteers,the potential to raise 500,000.You have a database of over 8000 emails and constituency of over 15,000 from the last fun filled mayoral race.Sure it's not going to be an easy carefree romp like it was last time.This is the real deal.LEAN ON US.WE'LL HELP YOU CARRY ON!!!