Category Archives: McNeilly

A Quote from Ravenstahl

One that we think we can believe:

And as far as I’m concerned every employee has the right–I’ve said this from the beginning–has the right to voice their opinion on anything related to city government and I fully support that.

Hat tip to the Busman.

Ravenstahl vs. The McNeillys

Bob Mayo has updated information.

McNeilly: Not About Money?

Our reading of the KDKA Jon Delano report on negotiations to settle the suit by Police Commander Catherine McNeilly against the Ravenstahl administration differs from the rest of the ‘sphere.

We have heard much about the monetary aspect of the settlement. Conventional wisdom somehow placed a figure of $25,000 as indicative of a respectable non-embarrassment, an amicable burying of the hatchet. Reports that the buy-off could approach $100,000 have been interpreted as a costly indication of serious wrongdoing by the mayor.

However, McNeilly’s lawyer seemed to indicate that the crux of the matter is an acknowledgement that city workers are protected under federal whistle blower protection. Mayoral challenger Bill Peduto has already seized upon this aspect, stating “It’s obvious that her constitutional rights have been violated by Luke Ravenstahl.”

Even if the McNeilly faction is being somewhat disingenuous in holding out for that kind of apologetic submission, this is not the ground on which Team Ravenstahl would wish to fight in the coming weeks.

McIntire Lobs Grenade

UPDATE: Clearly, McIntire had something. Tune in tomorrow morning for analysis of just what that is …

John McIntire’s “unofficial, speculative” account of an October 2005 physical altercation between City Councilman Ravenstahl and a uniformed police officer can be accessed here.

The account has Dennis Regan coming to Ravenstahl’s rescue, which would explain Ravenstahl’s indebtedness to Regan throughout the McNeilly affair.

McIntire claims that police barracks are crawling with first-hand and second-hand knowledge of this incident, but are silent for fear of reprisal. He also claims that major news outlets are dying to break this story first.

Here is another unofficial story, based on Comet speculation:

John McIntire was recently dismissed from KDKA and is desperate to stay relevant, especially now. Savvy of how hot the McNeilly story is in the blurghosphere, he launches a wild accusation and enjoys a week or two of limelight. By the time the story is rigorously checked by the much-disparaged mainstream media, McIntire can claim it was just a hunch, that he’s half-a-comedian, and that something like that might have happened, anyway. Thanks to all the attention, contract negotiations with his new employer go especially well.

Ravenstahl could immediately get in front this and declare McIntire’s story total garbage. He may resist this, because it would only give the MacYapper the attention he craves, and turn it into a “real story.” The Comet calls this the John Kerry Miscalculation. The story is already real enough. Besides which, firmly and unequivocally denying something might be just what the doctor ordered.

That is, if the story is wholly without merit…

McIntire’s extremely snarky column blasting the Mayor in this week’s City Paper includes none of these allegations; we wonder if this was an editorial decision. Elsewhere in this CP issue, ironically, we find a Chris Potter news piece raising questions about aspects of McNeilly’s version of events, and sympathetic to Ravenstahl’s case.

“That Is So Absolutely Ludicrous”

Acting City Solicitor George Specter came forward to defend his handling of the Regan investigation, dispute his presence at previous discussions of McNeilly, and deny a cover-up.

The broad impact is that we the voters are once again treated to long rehashings of the whole affair by both the P-G’s Rich Lord and the Trib’s Jeremy Boren.

There are two currents sweeping the real-worldosphere right now:

1. This all provides ammo for the other mayoral candidates serious ammo machine gun ammo.

2. They’re all crooks. I may not even vote in November.

If you are wagering a dinner at Nakama, or your political career, on the outcome of the May 15th election, current #1 gives you some clear handicapping advice. Current #2 is a push.

The acting City Solicitor’s move can be credibly interpreted as a tack toward current #1. The Comet highly recommends turning up your speakers and surfing over to KDKA’s John Delano, who captures the full emotive impact of Specter’s declarations, with repeated Clintonesque emphasis.

Adding what seems to be new news, Delano zooms in tight on the form demoting McNeilly, which Dennis Regan signed in the space provided for “Public Safety Director.” The Comet would have prefered to lead this post with that image, but lacking that capacity, we went with our third choice.

A current Trib editorial packages this as a “lesson” to the Mayor, and a Sunday P-G editorial implied that the Mayor is not smart. Yet both fall well short of calling it a hanging offense. Given the clinical forbearance Ravenstahl continues to apply, the Comet is puzzled that Regan has not seen fit to emerge from his spider-hole.

“Perhaps There Was Misjudgement”

Wouldn’t it be nice (he’s thinking) if, sometime this afternoon, before the three-day weekend, I could hold a celebratory press conference with Mario Lemieux? Franco Harris is not getting the job done.

Wouldn’t it be nice (Don Barden and Ron Burkle must be thinking) if Luke finds himself desperate to hold a celebratory press conference with Mario Lemieux?

Isn’t it a fact (everyone must be thinking) that preliminary injunctions against former operations directors are simply too inside-baseball for voters without the same dozen blogs in their favorites folder?

Would it seem opportunistic (Bill Peduto must be thinking) if, after letting Luke stew in these juices over the long weekend, I went and picked Tuesday to officially announce?

Isn’t it a fact (the Comet is thinking) that such a notion is really, really too inside-baseball?

The P-G’s Mark Belko recalls Dennis Regan saying he “had no involvement” in the transfers of police officers including Rende, despite the sworn testimony of Police Chief Dominic Costa that Regan had involved himself on three separate and escalating occasions.

Belko also has Ravenstahl saying, “There was no rule broken, no law broken. If anything, maybe bad judgment was used,” perhaps opening the door just a hint of a smidgen toward the notion of settling with Cmdr. McNeilly out of court.

A further indication of the Mayor’s possible Proudly-Backing-Away posture is this quote obtained from WTAE: “(Regan) worked for Mayor O’Connor, and Mayor O’Connor gave him the ability and authority to do what he felt was appropriate. Most of these actions and allegations took place under Mayor O’Connor.”

Meanwhile the Trib and Jeremy Boren go for the throat with the headline, City Solicitor’s Probe Blasted, focusing on the presence of City Solicitor George Specter at some of those Regan-Costa meetings.

No major news outlet seem to have posted a recent editorial on the matter.

A Chilling Effect

This isn’t over. A federal judge ordered a preliminary injunction, reinstating Catherine McNeilly to police commander, as she has reasonable likelyhood of success in her suit. A full trial is set to take place in which the Mayor will be asked to give sworn testimony.

“It was a decision that was made by the chief, and I supported that decision” said Ravenstahl, passing the buck maybe a hair.

A spokesman at his office stressed this is only the beginning. With an election looming, we wonder what Ravenstahl has to lose by graciously burying the hatchet, especially as McNeilly will resume her commandership without the confidence of city hall.

P-G coverage with Paula Reed Ward: LINK // Trib coverage with Jason Cato: LINK

“The public interest is always served by disclosure of wrongdoing and undue and/or inappropriate influence by public officials in police department matters,” Judge Ambrose said. “The chilling effect of discipline and demotion to a police officer who makes a good faith report of what she believes in good faith to be wrongdoing and inappropriate influence in government never serves the public interest.”

The Comet wishes it had the audio of McNeilly’s ACLU attorney hailing the decision as victory for truth, justice, and apple pie — and a clear signal to government workers across the U.S.A. that you will be protected if your conscience tells you to speak out.

Judge Ambrose insists this is not about corruption at the police department, but wrongdoing (is that much like evildoing?) at City Hall. Ravenstahl flatly denies both.

Addendum: Am I the only one mentally confusing the names “Ravenstahl” and “Roethlisberger“? Does that carry significance?

It’s Quiet Out There

UPDATE 4:40 PM: McNeilly granted preliminary injunction preventing her demotion, reports WDUQ’s Mark Nootbaar. Judge says evidence shows wrongdoing from Mayor’s office, reports P-G’s Paula Reed Ward. Comet Newsdesk full of bunk.

We’re expecting a ruling in the Catherine McNeilly whistle-blower lawsuit within the hour.

Everyone (who hasn’t hitched their wagon very directly to Ravenstahl’s star) wants McNeilly to win her case, and be reinstated as Commander.

From the vantage of the Comet Newsdesk and (newly frigid) Luxury Balcony, Mr. Dennis Regan, however unsavory, never did anything illegal, so I’m not sure on what McNeilly could be said to have blown a whistle.

From that same vantage, Catherine McNeilly, although quite savory, did indeed do something illegal.

So it’s hard to see how anyone could expect her to win. We wonder who’s writing a copy of the “we’re disappointed but moving forward” speech that’s never going to get read.

The McNeilly Case

“Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who maintained Thursday that her punishment was justified, appears to be oblivious to the injustice done and the bad precedent set.” So concludeth a brief P-G editorial aside, putting one of America’s great newspapers in rough accord with the Comet. The case was therein framed as an illuminating window into the practices of Dennis Regan, of whom whistle-blower McNeilly (NOT pictured) saved us a lot of grief. But the low prominence and lukewarm rebuke of Ravenstahl reflects our agreement that until further notice, this was a “scandalette” at best.

“Morning” Line: Already in Motion

Save Fort Pitt: The Fort Pitt Preservation Society has concocted a plan that would preserve much of the Music Bastion at Point State Park, yet still provide for a large, flat festival grounds, reports the Trib’s Allison M. Heinrichs.

In what seems to be the first hint of a glimmer of positive news for preservationists, State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Brookline) says he will ask the state to look at the plan, saying, “I’m glad (the preservation society) brought something forward. I think their opinions and outlook should be considered. If there is a good compromise plan that will not hurt the (renovation) process, then it certainly should be looked at.”

Meanwhile, the PA Dept. of Preservation, deigning to respond only through email, continues to cite deadlines and budgets. The Riverlife Task Force and Allegheny Conference declined to comment. Heinrichs, now perpetrating like an activist, includes a link www.savefortpitt.org.

Save the Penguins: Lemieux describes his meeting with the Rendell-Onorato-Ravenstahl troika yesterday as “very positive” and says he’s “very optimistic.” But only the Trib’s Andrew Conte & Rob Rossi have found “sources” willing to say the talks went so well, there could be a deal as soon as next week.

The McNeilly Case: Here is how it all allegedy went down, and I use the term “allegedly” as a big, thick wool blanket over all of the following:

Dennis Regan was employed as a prick on behalf of the late Mayor Bob O’Connor. Regan would, for instance, threaten to demote police commanders to beat patrol if they hassled persons or businesses with city-hall-caliber pull. Regan’s girlfriend was city Senior Secretary Marlene Cassidy, whose brother is a certain Officer Francis Rende. Regan “ordered” Police Chief Costa to promote this well-connected girlfriend’s brother to the position of Detective, although Regan, as Operations Director, was outside the purview of Public Safety matters.

Upon his ascension to Mayor, Ravenstahl nominated this useful Regan fellow as his Public Safety Director, which would give such “orders” to the Police Chief considerably more weight. But this is where Police Commander McNeilly intervened, objecting to this rascal Regan’s elevation. Part of her complaint to City Council was Officer Rende’s well-filled, undeserving-of-promition disciplinary file, which revealed Rende’s habit of calling off work “sick” to do side jobs for profit.

Something about the exposure caused Dennis Regan not only to withdraw his nomination for Public Safety Director, but to resign from city employ altogether. Yet Mayor Ravenstahl retaliated by demoting McNeilly to Lieutennant. She is suing to be reinstated as Commander under federal whistle-blower protection.

Today’s P-G coverage by Rich Lord & Paula Reed Ward plays up McNeilly’s admission that she broke rules in revealing details of Officer Rende’s disciplinary record to City Council and others. They have Ravenstahl saying, “My understanding was that Commander McNeilly admitted today that she broke the rules, and I think that says it all. I think that speaks volumes as to why the decision was made to demote her to lieutenant.” Only much later to they have a quote by an ally of McNeilly, which in effect says, “If you want to make an omlet, you have to break some eggs.”