What Fresh Hell Is This?

January 17, 2007

Something STILL Smells Bad (In Case You Missed It)

An astute reader sent me a couple of links regarding the city's investigation of former city employee Dennis Regan.

The first is Jon Delano's interview with the guy who did the investigation - Acting City Solicitor, George Specter. Specter says some curious things to say about the City Hall Dennis-The-Menace. On the allegations that Catherine McNeilly raised, Delano's writes:

But, speaking out for the first time, the man who conducted that investigation says his view was not much different from Police Commander Catherine McNeilly whom the mayor gave approval for Police Chief Nate Harper to demote.

"She and I reached the same conclusions," said Specter. "I said the facts speak for themselves."

Specter said that in his report to the mayor but he also said he had no way to determine who was telling the truth -- the police or Regan.

Curious. So he and McNeilly reached the same conclusions, but he couldn't determine who was telling the truth, Regan or McNeilly? Sorry - something must be missing here. If he says "the facts speak for themselves" then why is any if it still in question?

Then there's this from Bob Mayo:

A: "...the allegation that he (Regan) had sought to pressure Chief Costa into better positions for Officer Rende. On that one, as you correctly noted, 'I said credence has to be given, despite Regan's stout denials, credence has to be given to what actually happened. Costa said 'he told me to do it, and I did it'."

Q: "So then, your next and closing statement is 'the facts speak for themselves.' And in that context, what do those facts say--about Chief Costa's assertions, about Dennis Regan's assertions?"

A: "The fact that Costa did this, and says that he did it at the insistence of Dennis Regan, coupled with the record of transfers during the Costa regime, tell me that something--that there was some interaction between them that led him to move Rende so often in a short period of time."

Q: "So, did your investigation provide, in light of that, quote-- 'no conclusive evidence'--unquote?"

A: "I thought there was substantial evidence, but you still had Dennis Regan saying 'I never said it'."

Q: "So in order for there to be conclusive evidence, there'd have to be an admission on Dennis Regan's part?"

A: "Something like that. to be absolutely conclusive. But you know what's interesting here, Bob? I in a sense came to the same conclusions as Cathy McNeilly did. Recall, she said that she had no absolute proof that Dennis Regan had done these things. But she looked at the big picture. I, on the other hand, said 'let the facts speak for themselves'. There's essentially no difference between those conclusions."[emphasis added]

I'm not sure I follow the logic here. If someone breaks a rule (whatever it is) and there's substantial evidence against that person, it's not absolutely conclusive unless he/she admits to it? I don't suggest ANYONE try that with a traffic violation.

But when pressed Specter deflects:

Q: "But the mayor had to act on that. He said 'no conclusive evidence'. Is that an accurate interpretation of the findings that you made to the mayor?"

A: "If you're using the word conclusive, yes it is. But look at the overall result. What you have is, as a result of this investigation and the mayor's action on it: Dennis Regan is no longer employed by the City of Pittsburgh. Cathy McNeilly remains employed. Albeit, she was demoted. That demotion has been vacated by the district court; she is now back as a commander. But if you look at the bigger picture here, and what has actually happened: Regan is gone and she is still here.

So that makes it all better. The wiggling doesn't matter because Regan's gone and McNeilly's still on the payroll.

But Mayor Luke's still on the record:

Again Regan denied the allegations and last week the mayor again said there was no proof of wrongdoing.

"There were no laws or rules broken," said Ravenstahl. [emphasis added]

Back to Jon Delano:

But Specter was aware that Regan used the title "Public safety director" to overturn the discipline of another police officer even though council had not yet confirmed Regan to that post.

"He had no right to do this," said Specter.

"Or to take the action he did because that's an action that could only be taken by the public safety director, and was contrary to the advice of the Law Department."

Whah? So how with what definition of "laws" and/or "rules" is Luke Ravenstahl functioning? Regan, contrary to the advice of the law department, did something the Acting City-Solicitor says he has no right to do, and Mayor Luke still says no rules were broken?

What planet does Mayor Luke live on? I know he's only in his late twenties, but still.

The other link is a piece by Andy Sheehan at KDKA.

The fallout continues from a federal judge's decision to reinstate a demoted city police commander.

That commander, Catherine McNeilly, says she blew the whistle on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's public safety director nominee Dennis Regan.

Now, McNeilly's lawyers are criticizing Ravenstahl for disciplining McNeilly and exonerating Regan despite evidence of wrong-doing on his part.

KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan reports it involves almost a dozen documents that have been submitted in McNeilly's case against mayor Ravenstahl and the city.

They're here, by the way. Of course, the Mayor has denied (repeatedly) that there's been any wrong doing so let's give the award for subtle sarcasm to Vic Walczak for this bon mot:
"(It's) very difficult to square the evidence with the mayor's assertion that there's no evidence," said Walczak.

This part - not so subtle.

Documents in the case also shed light on another incident we first brought to light: Regan's interceding on behalf of a Southside tire business cited for violations by another police commander, Rashall Brackney.

Regan went to see Brackney at the Southside zone station and found that she wasn't there but according to the sworn statements from the officers who were there Regan told them to give Brackney a message: "(expletive) rolls down hill, and she will be in the (expletive)."

The officers also quote Regan saying that Brackney would find herself "back walking a beat" if she didn't get with the program.

The (expletive) in use is the word "shit." Though according to memo the actual quotation attributed to Dennis Regan is:
Shit rolls downhill, and she'll be the one ending up being shit on.
Hey, maybe that's what stinks!

There's more at the Burghreport.


Whigsboy said...

I gotta say, Mayor Opie appears to pretty much be a tool. His actions in this case show somebody who is not up to the job. He's more concerned with putting his cherub-like mug on every city service related advertisement than he is being a real mayor.

Me thinks little Opie will not win this next election.

Luke is a Liar said...

Pgh. Lesbian Correspondents aptly refer to Opie now as "Pinnochio", a lying puppet.

Sherry P said...

i wonder, are all city governments like this? we've been a sorry mess since m. madoff and crew.

as time goes on i think we are going to miss even more, what might have been with bob o.

EdHeath said...

Maybe, in a way, we are lucky. Bob O, with his decades of experience, might have been more smooth, might have finessed Regan’s activities. Regan was Bob O’s boy, his hatchet man, after all.

And yes, I think all cities are like this. The amateurs who want sophisticated, honest mayors and council-persons don’t get them because they don’t care as much as the party hacks who make a living at this. Maybe some college towns do better (or worse when they elect abrasive know-it-all’s), but what do you expect from an old style, working class union city like Pittsburgh?

“The facts speak themselves”? Not in my experience, generally someone has to give voice to them. I mean, res ipsa loquitur works in the courtroom, in a brief or maybe even in a report to the mayor. Except that we are just learning about Mr. Specter’s report now, and Luke has been saying something different up till now. Luke needs to learn the lesson that the painful truth early is better than admitting to lying later.

Anonymous said...

Backwater governments are like this - regardless of the criticism of past mayors, I don't remember a liar so prolific as Opie? I don't remember one so stupid or judgmentally-challenged.

On the other hand, Bill Peduto impresses me as being genuinely & selflessly concerned for the welfare of the City. If you're looking for "more of the same" shady deals and decisions based on special interest $ contributions & what's best for Opie & his pals, go w/Opie. If you're looking for the hope of an honest government that makes decisions based on what's best for taxpayers, Peduto seems to be your guy.

Mark Rauterkus said...

City Solicitor, George Specter, should be fired.

The case between a police commander and the mayor should be settled, ASAP.

The public service director's post should be filled or scratched, ASAP.

Luke should say 'sorry.' Luke needs to move on -- or else he'll be in the private sector shortly.

Because other cities have corruption does not give any justification to the same within our city. Pgh does NOT need to be the same as some others.

luke is a liar said...

It would take an apology ala Jimmy Swaggert at this point. Pinnochio has allowed this thing to stew for way too long and has told lies too big - plus, he's a frat boy, "It wasn't me" is more his style.

Maria said...

He's starting to look -- dare I say it -- like another Frat Boy with family connections: Bush.

Sherry P said...

hi maria! hope you feel better soon.

Maria said...

Hi, Sherry!

I hope I feel better soon too!!!

I'm sick of being sick!

Lou said...

It took puppet-boy 2 months to come up w/the Regan-resignation scheme, and he still didn't get it right, any guess as to how long it will take to bail out of his lawsuit? He's already waited too long - people want to see the evidence & read the depositions (the idea of which brought Opie to honk "bring it on").

Even though a decent settlement will spare the taxpayers the potential for a gigantic verdict, a settlement will be perceived by many as a cover-up on top of a cover-up. Opie has painted himself into a lose-lose corner. Give the boy a dunce cap to wear to his deposition. Do they youtube those things...