What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 7, 2007

Fireworks at Pittsburgh City Council

You can watch the replay at 7:00 PM tonight on the City Channel if you missed today's Pittsburgh City Council meeting (or if, like me, you tuned in during the middle of it because you were too busy negotiating with some guy to clean your sidewalk of snow).

The council gave tentative approval today to payout $200,000.00 because Sgt. Mark A. Eggleton beat up a guy while working off duty at the Dirty O.

If you recall the case, Eggleton was found by the City to have acted inappropriately and was fired by then Police Chief, Dom Costa, but he was reinstated by then Operations Director, Dennis Regan, who at the time had been nominated by Interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl as Pittsburgh's Public Safety Director. Regan gave Eggleton a mere 5-day suspension and Eggleton remains on the force to this day despite Acting City Solicitor George Specter determined in January that Regan did not have the authority to change Costa’s punishment.

Notice all the "thens," "interims," and "acting" in that last paragraph?

As everyone knows by now, Regan never actually became Pittsburgh's Public Safety Director because, first Councilman Bill Peduto pointed out that he had not one ounce of experience (which was largely ignored at first) and then Police Cmdr. -- and whistleblower -- Catherine McNeilly accused Regan of inappropriately interfering in past police discipline matters (and that's a whole other lawsuit).

But, back to the Council meeting.

When I came in, Bill Peduto was questioning why Eggleton was still on the force and why Pittsburgh no longer had any cost recovery program to, well, recover the costs of just such lawsuits.

It was at that moment that Chief Ravenstahl Water Carrier, Jim Motznik, interrupted to claim that no comments could be made about Eggleton because that was a "personnel matter" and that no comments could be made about any cost recovery program because that wasn't in the bill. He also chimed in with the Ravenstahl Administration's favorite cry that it was politics saying, “This isn’t an opportunity to run for mayor in the city of Pittsburgh.”

Council President Doug Shields and Councilman Len Bodack echoed the "personnel matter" concerns with Shields saying, "It's not good public policy to play lawyer at the council table regarding settlements."

Apparently any real discussion of these very real matters of punishing, or not punishing, rogue cops and being then liable for their actions are supposed to only be had behind closed doors in Executive Sessions.

The Burgh Report calls it a "cover-up" and Agent Ska at The Ideas Bucket has her own satirical take on it here

Since we, the public, will be paying for the settlement, I say that we, the public, have a right to know why an apparent loose cannon like Eggleton is still on the force. I mean, does anyone even know if Eggleton is still allowed to work off duty at the City's risk?

Interim Mayor Ravenstahl is saying that he has a new plan for off duty officers that will be implemented by April that "could include a fee" (he shelved a plan to charge businesses $4 or $5 an hour back in November).

"Could"?

Only "could"?

Yeah, it's definitely better for we, the public, to pay for these things out of our pockets than for our Interim Mayor to actually have to negotiate with businesses, like, oh, certain sports teams, or to risk pissing off any buddies in the police union before an election.

You can bet that this is one viewer who will be watching the Council meeting rerum at 7:00.

(The Post-Gazette covers this story here and the Tribune-Review here.)

UPDATE: The Admiral has a great post on this subject, although I totally disagree with his contention that Peduto should run in November as an Independent.

14 comments:

matt h. said...

Seems like the Mayor is making the City Council cover up for him.. seems like a pattern. Denny Regan is still working with Mayor Luke's campaign after all of this so it doesn't really surprise me.

Maria said...

Your comment is a good one, but you're going to need to repost it as yourself or 'anonymous' as I'm certain that you're not THE 'matt h.'

Please repost.

You negate all the good things you say when you pretend to be someone else.

Anonymous said...

Since when do we look to Jim Motznik for legal advice - or, for that matter, any advice? The reason that a public hearing is held to discuss a matter is so that there will be PUBLIC discussion. Dougie Shields and Jimmy Motznik ramble on every day about things that don't even remotely resemble the content of the bills in front of them. Their conduct today under the guise of "not wanting to play lawyer" is reprehensible. I really would liked to have heard a public explanation of what the administration plans to do to reverse its blunder in dismantling the cost-recovery program and in allowing the illegal reinstatement of a policeman who was fired by someone who, if he had 5 seconds worth of police management experience he had more experience than Denny Regan. How are these things confidential? Why did Motznik, Shields and Bodack get away with shouting down Peduto's directly relevant argument that the taxpayers are being forced to pay for something because of the Luke administration's blunder?

Agent Ska said...

I'm not Agent Ska. I'm Matt H. *WINK* *WINK*
ahahahahahaha. No, I'm not the fake Matt H. I'm proud to be.. Secret. Agent.Ska.

anyways. I just felt like I was watching something important today. I wasn't sure if I was or not- but it seemed important. Why did Dan Deasy keep dropping his pencil? Was he nervous that the viewers would notice the cover up and the backroom deals that were going on? I was never more happy to be a Peduto supporter than when I watched Billy P. call them out today. It was like watching a touchdown for the Steelers.

That's all.

-S.A.S-

Anonymous said...

Peduto for MAYOR

Mer-Man said...

Why wasn't there a public hearing on this legislation?

Is it too late to get a petition signed?

If McNeilly gets a settlement, there should be a public hearing!

Anonymous said...

That was a public hearing - everyone except Peduto engaged in a cover-up. I've seen them discuss dozens of settlements, and I've never seen anything like this - it looked like a bunch of football players desperately diving for the fumbled ball - they kept piling on trying to keep it from getting away. There are things they can discuss in public and things they can't. It makes NO sense at all for them to claim some kind of confidentiality over the cost recovery mess. There's nothing confidential about it. Liars all.

The Nail said...

If he was off duty, it thre responsibility of the establishment to pay for damages. Of course, since the establishment has political leanings...this one smells worse than the fire contract!

Maria said...

Nail,

Lawyers always go for the deepest pockets and the City's pockets are deeper than the O's.

Plus, a lawyer can argue that the City's police force improperly trianed the guy, plus the City knows and allows officers to work off duty IN UNIFORM, etc.

That's why a cost recovery program is important because if an officer working off duty messes up, everyone knows that the city WILL be sued and WILL end up paying.

Matt H said...

See this is why I made a blogger account.

The 1st comment was not me.

Democrats-Lie said...

I am the REAL Democrats-Lie.

Smitty said...

No doubt a cover-up has occured...the dismantling of the cost recovery program will result in more settlements paid with taxpayer dollars...Bill P needs to reach out to his base,reassure them that the endorsement vote was merely a restatement of the Party's love for their fair haired boy.Already newsletters have gone out by both Pat Dowd and Lukie regarding the endorsement,what's coming next,and just rallying the team.It's all about communications.

Maria said...

Smitty,

From what I hear, Bill's base reached out to HIM the day after endorsements. They were flooded with calls and emails from people itching to help.

Looks like ACDC fired them up after it pissed them off. LOL

Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.