What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 5, 2006

Things That Happen on Fridays

In politics, there's something special about what happens on a Friday.

In politics things that happen on a Friday (at least the things that are scheduled to happen on a Friday) are usually the most embarrassing moments of that week. The idea, as I understand it, is that an administration will release embarrassing information on Friday so that it'll be reported on Saturday when fewer people pay attention to the news. And so by the time people start to pay attention (say, on the following Monday), there's so much more stuff to pay attention to that the embarrassing stuff is more easily forgotten. Cynical, I know.

This weekend is a case in point. The politically embarrasing story of how Dennis Regan was cleared of charges but resigned anyway happened this past Friday. The politically invigorating story of Mayor Luke announcing his candidacy for mayor happened the following Monday.

I think it was FDR who said that there are no coincidences in politics.

Saturday, Rich Lord reported in the P-G:
Pittsburgh's controversial Operations Director Dennis Regan resigned yesterday, even as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl closed a 50-day investigation into his actions that found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Lord gives a thumbnail sketch of the situation:
Cmdr. McNeilly strongly implied in her e-mail that Mr. Regan quashed her effort to discipline Detective Francis Rende, whom she accused of calling off sick to work side jobs.

Since a 1999 incident of misconduct, Detective Rende has been working under an agreement that said any violation of attendance policy would result in his termination. He is the brother of Marlene Cassidy, a senior secretary in the mayor's office who lives with Mr. Regan in Point Breeze.
And Mayor Luke's conclusion:
"The investigation revealed no conclusive evidence that Dennis Regan committed any wrongdoing with regard to the accusations made by Catherine McNeilly," the mayor said. He said Mr. Regan never made a personnel decision without the involvement of the mayor.
I wonder what that last sentence means. Did Regan make any personnel decisions regarding Chief McNeilly? If so, does that mean that Mayor Luke was in on those personnel decisions - whatever they were? What were they? Looks like we won't find out:
Neither he nor city Solicitor George Specter would provide any details of the investigation's findings. "That's the historic practice in handling these kinds of investigations," Mr. Specter said, also noting that the state public records law doesn't cover investigation reports.

"These types of investigations are conducted on a confidential basis, the information is obtained on a confidential basis and must remain private," the mayor said.
That's nice. Here's Justin Vellucci from The Trib:
Regan and McNeilly were suspended Oct. 12, three days after McNeilly sent Ravenstahl and City Council an e-mail accusing Regan of thwarting her attempt to discipline Officer Francis M. Rende for abusing sick time and of engineering Rende's promotion to acting detective.
That last part (about engineering Rende's promotion) was something I didn't know.

Check out this from today's Trib. They don't like what they see either.
Pittsburgh officials say an investigation found no conclusive evidence that now-former city Operations Director Dennis Regan improperly interjected himself in a disciplinary matter. In concert with the announcement, Mr. Regan, on leave for nearly two months, resigned on Friday, saying he refused to be a "political pawn." But city officials are keeping details of the investigation under wraps. They cite confidentiality rules. Yet again, public officials, public money -- but the public is denied details. This is not acceptable.
Again - Confidentiality rules. Isn't it nice how that word ("rules") can be a noun AND a verb? I'll let you think about that for a second.

Here's Regan's resignation letter. Even on the way out the door, he regurgitates Mayor Luke's habit of seeing any criticism as a political ploy:
The fact that some of your political adversaries and mine would attempt to exploit this issue for their personal political gain...
And so on. Check out The Burgh Report on this eveready response. Eventually it's gotta wear thin, right?

I'll give John McIntire the last word on this:
MacYipper Bryan is hoppin' mad about the bogus "investigation" conducted by Mayor Opie about Dennie Regan, the former Bobby O'Connor henchman who almost became Public Safety Director, though he has absolutely no experience in that department whatsoever. Mayor Opie was going to promote him, despite his lack of experience, until Police Commander Cathy McNeilly blew the whistle on him.

Commander McNeilly revealed that Regan had tried to stop her from disciplining a cop who happens to be the brother of Regan's girlfriend/housemate, who is one of Mayor Opie's secretaries. The results of the investigation were "inconclusive." Dude, everybody knows that Regan stuck his nose where it didn't belong. Everybody knows that's how he operates. You know who is fully aware of it? Mayor Opie. He may be green but he's not dumb. Of course you'd have to be an idiot not to be aware of the old school tactics of Mr. Regan.

But Mayor Opie doesn't care about truth or justice. He cares about this problem going away. Regan has become too hot a potato, so they're throwing him under the bus. I love mixing metaphors. But he's one of the best thugs around, and he could even be helpful somehow in the campaign, surreptitiously, so Mayor Opie came up with this bogus outcome where there's "no conclusive evidence."
And remember, it all happened on a Friday - so it must've been embarrassing to the Mayor.

Oops. I guess I got the last word. Sorry John.


Anonymous said...

A lot of us are asking these same questions. I think most people think that Regan was a cancerous tumor that, once removed, would render the Ravenstahl administration a healthy apparatus. While certainly a most obvious flaw, Regan is just the beginning. Reading between the lines of that ridiculous political ploy-disguised-as-letter of resignation, Regan is still involved in the theater of the absurdly unqualified ala Ravenstahl, Cassidy, Zober and Skrinjar. Sadly, given the nature of this race, if Peduto doesn't get out there soon, this band of carnival rejects will be so far ahead he won't be able to catch them. The blogging community is paying attention, but the average reader of mainstream media is being lulled into "what would Bob do?"-land. Opposing candidates need to get their voices out there.

Matt H said...

How are Zober, Cassidy, Skrinjar and Luke unqualified?

I especially don't understand it in regards to the staff folk you mentioned. These were the same people who were in the O'Connor administration that was going to be a clear success for this city. What has changed?

Anonymous said...

First off, Luke wasn't a member of the O'Connor administration, he was a freshman councilmember. As for the other 3, who ever said that Cassidy, Zober or Skrinjar were the reason for having hope in the O'Connor administration???

Mike said...

I'm not convinced that the old Bob loyalists are the only ones--or even the dominate ones--in the Ravenstahl administration. And I think that may be the real problem, which manifests itself in stuff like this.

EdHeath said...

I gotta say, I don't follow local politics as much, but right now Pittsburgh feels depressing. First, you had Bob O firing people by phone, from his hospital bed, which seemed to be engineered if not stage managed by Regan. You had Zober as head of an apparently phantom department to pave his way to deputy mayor. You had the whole Regan as Public Safety director, undone by the stuff discussed in the post. And, for me, the last straw was finding out how close Ravenstahl is to Darlene Harris, the new council person. I remember the old days of the Fink School Board. Despite Bob O'Connor's claim of being a business guy, this is exactly what I was afraid of, stupid machine games. The funny thing about Murphy was that everyone seemed to dislike him so much that he didn't seem to get much of a machine going. But you know, too much of this machine shit and the Yuppies we seem to want will stay in the bigger cities, where at least they can get a decent (chain) cupcake.