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).
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.