A Play On Words.

By Shawn Carter

[Chief of staff, Councilman Ricky Burgess.]

Since Bram was honest enough to state his support of Bill Peduto, I’ll state mine for Jack Wagner.

[Much obliged. This blue and italicized text is the words of the Comet’s editor, Bram Reichbaum. Due to a miscommunication coupled with a violation involving house rules, I am annotating Shawn’s work. I hope this serendipitous dual-format provides for an excellent read.]

Having said that, Team Peduto hurried out this press release in response to some dark money group who had the temerity to exercise their Citizens United-given rights to employ paid political speech, which is protected, as per the Supreme Court, by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

[Of course the ad’s genesis is interesting. Why an anonymous group? And why one connected both to Ravenstahl and to Republican campaigns like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, in this Democratic primary? Its authorship does not entail that its contents are false, but certainly entails we must approach with a high degree of skepticism.

[The ad’s sweeping theme merits making explicit: “Peduto doesn’t like African-Americans and poor people.” Peduto has cast a truly massive quantity of up-or-down votes over 8 years as a City Councilor, and the Committee has cherry-picked four of them, devoid of any context and described in reductive terms, to illustrate that point. Fair enough as far it goes, but we must weigh even these charges if any of them pass muster against Peduto’s entire body of work.]

First up, new senior housing in Homewood.

The single most important rule I’ve learned as I’ve worked for candidates and on campaigns is something an old political hand shared with many, many moons ago:

“When you do opposition research, the FIRST person you do opposition research on is YOUR OWN CANDIDATE.  Don’t ever assume that your candidate’s memory is as good as a trip down memory lane courtesy of Lexis-Nexis.  Or Google.  Or even the Post-Gazette’s website.”

Some outfit called “Pittsburghers for a Better Pittsburgh” accused Bill Peduto of “being the only Council member who voted against using $12 million dollars in funds given by the state’s Housing Finance Agency to build senior-citizen housing across the street from the East Busway in Homewood.”

In fact, Bill Peduto WAS the ONLY Council member to vote that way.

Councilman Peduto wants you to believe that after speaking to DOZENS of Homewood residents, he concluded that there wasn’t enough “community engagement.”

Wow.  Because spending 4 years, $100,000 in taxpayer funds and bringing in the best design firms in Pittsburgh (Studio for Spatial Practice, Rothschild Doyno) didn’t indicate the City’s interest in REAL community engagement wasn’t sufficient, there is also THIS and THIS:

Here’s what Elwin didn’t mention:  The community started this process in 2008.  Every community group in Homewood and Point Breeze North was brought to the table.  The City didn’t select the consultants, the community groups did.  The City didn’t didn’t oversee the process, the community groups did.  That’s why it took four years, because, yes, community consensus does take time.  (this is a large document.)

[Shawn links first to a post at Elwin Green’s Homewood Nation in which residents in 2010 “were informed” about Bridging the Busway, and then another post in 2012 in which he notes to one of his commenters that plans were not in fact “secret”. Very good. I can attest to the fact that a large-ish number of area residents constantly brought forward grievances relating to gentrification… yet I’m sure that others did not.

[More importantly we realize that “community processes” and “engagement” can mean a lot of different things. Green readily admits the organizers “did fall short” publicizing meetings, and allows for the possibility that the plans might be seen to have issues. Personally I wonder if the whole initiative was top-down and coerced through, or bottom-up and responsive to input in any serious respect — and Peduto reminds us he is a “strong advocate for community-based development.” I hope Elwin chimes in to our discussion for his take both on the merits of the specific dispute, and on his sense about Peduto regarding these issues in general — his community having been requisitioned by the mysterious Committee as ammunition.]

One of the stated goals, from day one, was that we were going to protect our most vulnerable population.  Yes, our seniors.

So the state shows up with $12 million dollars and says, “You can have this money if you build senior-citizen housing right THERE.”

[I often wonder who gives the state these specific ideas, that are always presented as one-time only ultimatums; use it this way or lose it all! We encounter so many. Surely this is some function of how the Administration operates, perhaps most administrations.]

The community said, “Okay, we have a plan for that.”

The Zoning Board was no pushover.  Despite 4 years of meetings, meetings and more meetings, they demanded yet MORE community process before granting the variances.  Even after the Zoning Board granted the variances, the City still had to defend the process, successfully I might add, in Court.

[Nine variances, right?]

Only after all of that, at the final step, did Bill Peduto try to derail the community’s wishes.

[I don’t know anything about time-line. It seems like a decision Bill made, and is defending. Moving on…]

Don’t be fooled by campaign talking points.

Next, Peduto was accused of voting against the City’s Living Wage Ordinance in 2002 as a rookie Councilman.  Also true.

Now I know Peduto wants you to believe that all he did was vote for legislation that took a law that was set to go in effect in a few days and say, “Unless County Council passes the same law, ours won’t take effect.”  But this is the same logic that was employed with the City’s Campaign Finance Ordinance.  You know, the one that the County said they couldn’t enforce because County Council refused to even take up the matter.

In fact, the easiest way to pass a law in City Council that will never take effect is to condition it on the County doing the same.

Here’s the rub:  In 2006, the state Legislature passed a law updating the state’s Minimum Wage.  That law stated that ANY municipal Ordinance in effect on the day of the passage of the state’s Law was legal and enforceable.  So, because of Bill Peduto’s vote, our Living Wage law wasn’t in effect, and as a result, cannot be legally enforced even if we removed the County provision now, despite Bill Peduto’s statements last year that he would now vote to remove the provision.

What was his stated reason for this?  That it would hurt the business community, of course.  You know, the same reason Ravenstahl gave for his opposition to the Prevailing Wage Law Peduto holds up as a defense.

Speaking of Prevailing Wage…

Why was Luke able to kill off Prevailing Wage on New Year’s Eve in 2009?  Because Peduto can’t read a calendar.  If you pass a law with less than ten days before the end of the session, and the Mayor has ten days to decide whether or not to veto it or sign it, you leave yourself at the Mayor’s mercy.  Seems to me like any member of Council with 7 years on the job would factor that into the equation.

[First of all, Peduto fought for what seemed like ages and ultimately passed the Prevailing Wage ordinance, which raises wages in service and other industries to a certain standard on projects that are underwritten by taxpayer subsidies. As Shawn notes, this benefit was opposed vehemently by the sponsor of the commercial we are discussing, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. I really don’t care who plays calendar games better, Bill Peduto triumphed, working class families in Pittsburgh are owed more stability, and taxpayers would be getting a better bang for their buck… if the commercial’s sponsor, Luke Ravenstahl, wasn’t being obtuse in holding up implementation.

[To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand any of the machinations behind city’s dormant Living Wage efforts. I can tell you despite the rhetoric of a hundred thousand pious Democrats, we still do not have it. Jack Wagner’s spokesperson pointed out that the candidate recently said he supports “a” living wage and “the” living wage, but I’m still not clear on whether that refers to mere moral support for higher wages generally, or amending or enacting any specific City law. *-UPDATE: Wagner “supports current law” on both Living (as dormant) and Prevailing wage, spox tells Comet. By the Identity Property then it appears Peduto and Wagner agree on living wage, making this accusation doubly hypocritical.]

Not that he learned that lesson.  Less than 2 years later, he tried to amend the City’s Home Rule Charter with a referendum that would take the City’s Drilling Ban Ordinance and make it a part of the Home Rule Charter.  The problem?  They waited to pass the bill until 8 days before the deadline.  Ravenstahl just sat on his hands.  He had ten days to do it.  Bill had only 8.  Luke won, again, because Bill, after 8 years in office (and 6 as a staffer) still hadn’t learned how to read a calendar.

[Thank you for reminding us that Bill Peduto is against natural gas drilling in dense urban environments like Pittsburgh, doesn’t care who knows that we feel that way, and is not going to be among the abundant surplus of industry cheerleaders in government.]

Oh, how could I have forgotten?

The Pittsburgh Stimulus Bill?

Yes and Yes.

In 2011, Bill Peduto introduced a law that would extend the tax breaks on commercial construction in the City.  He even told Joe Smydo that it was his intention for there to be NO cap on annual savings.

[Clearly the central thrust of this section’s accusation is that Peduto has been robbing poor neighborhoods in order to give stuff like this to the district he has represented, parts of which are more affluent. But note even in the “give” column, the bill’s benefits were to be applied citywide. Peduto had led a tax-abatement proposal which the Mayor took as his own and expanded a bit during what was… uh… their “last contest” in 2007. It passed and was very popular. This other bill might have spurred even more development at a time the economy was still pretty clunky. It did not pass. I assume some economic development project in his district may otherwise have benefited, along with the others across the city. Peduto may have to wear that for the rest of his life, but I doubt he’ll be ashamed of it.]

In other words, if some billion-dollar corporate entity, like say, PNC, decided to build a $400 million skyscraper Downtown, that they could save 100% on their tax bill.

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-MILLION DOLLARS over 10 years.  You read it correctly.  Bill Peduto introduced a law that would have given PNC $150 million in taxpayer money to PNC.  That PNC not only didn’t need…  but didn’t even ask for.

So I guess that’s pay-to-play, only in reverse.  Instead of the developers paying politicians for preference, he’s paying the developers for preference.

[This stuff about a Downtown development wasn’t even in the ad. This is why reporters should take a pass on working through Carter unless it’s actual Burgess business. He always provides more disarming answers (and if it must come to it, more fluid misdirection) than the actual people and offices you are writing about. Then when you’re done talking to him, he’ll advise all your follow-up sources on what to say before you get to them. You will get better quotes and develop more important stories working through persons who are more directly accountable for the subject matter of your investigations.

[I can only guess since the bill that is being criticized by Shawn got nowhere fast, a historical footnote, it probably didn’t receive the kind of vetting and tune-up that would catch things like unexpected $400 million Greenormous skyscrapers.]

Well, obviously, City Council called #%^&*() on that one. They refused to give billionaires that kind of money, so Peduto revised the legislation to only give a few million dollars to developers that, in his own words, “needed that money to complete developments in Oakland.”

More if I get another crack at this…

[Possibly. This is what’s up. Stay tuned, ask around, and keep doing your own research.]

40 thoughts on “A Play On Words.

  1. Jordan Romanus

    “In 2011, Bill Peduto introduced a law that would extend the tax breaks on commercial construction in the City. He even told Joe Smydo that it was his intention for there to be NO cap on annual savings.” Can you cite that? I'd like to read that article.

    Also, those responses really aren't that strong, but they are interesting. Peduto has gotten much better as he's learned more over time. That's something that we can't say about Wagner, unfortunately.

  2. Bram Reichbaum

    I'll comment here briefly before annotating by morning. But to sum up my feelings:

    1. The point of the attack as was obviously, “Bill Peduto hates blacks and poors.” Any fair assessment would look at the body of work he's done over the years, in which case you'll easily find a lot of witnesses to give the contrary impression. Being a City Councilor isn't the kind of job where you write book reports all day, you actually have to make tough yay-or-nay decisions in circumstances that are mixed. This ad picked out four of the top incidents which, portrayed with little context, seem to cast Peduto in an unfavorable light. Fair enough.

    2. The real issue isn't that the ads are “anonymous”, it's WHO is making them, and WHY they are choosing to be anonymous. From what little Potter has dug up so far — Ravenstahl and the actual company that gave us Swftboat Vets — we should approach with extraordinary skepticism.

    3. I know for a certain fact that there was a large, vocal faction of Homewood area residents who arrived at Council regularly to say, “Cut this out.” I think there was a legitimate debate over this was the wisest use of taxpayer dollars, and there is always a great debate over how inclusive and “real” a community process is. Getting invited to meetings does not necessarily mean the planners are listening to you.

    4. As you know, the ONLY way to get a “living wage” law passed in the City was to link it to the County. It wouldn't have come within a prayer of passage otherwise. You're criticizing Peduto for having gotten you closer to is, what is presumably, your goal. And you only thought to criticize that aspect of the Living Wage law once Peduto AGAIN proposed raising people's wages with Prevailing Wage.

    5. You don't mention the Hill District one, but maybe that's because you know how much I'll laugh if you suggest that money given from the City's capital budget in the middle of a year over to the URA & SEA is actually “going to the Hill District” [cough, spit] when we know those agencies play favorites — in which their only partners are the Hill House CDC. And you know Peduto is the one that had been fighting for FORMAL community benefits agreements spelled out though IMPARTIAL community round tables, captured not from other city neighborhoods at the last minute and through a political ambush, but from a new, sustainable, fair revenue stream.

    6. The Citywide stimulis bill didn't pass or get very far, but the fact that somebody might have built a bank with it in Peduto's district makes it something attractive to counterpoint with the “hates blacks and poors” material. Whatever.

  3. Alleyne

    I'm sorry, when, exactly, was Bill Peduto granted sole power to schedule when bills would be introduced and voted on in the City Council which he isn't president of?

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    I assume Alleyene, you're talking about pt. 5? The capital budget (improvements budget) is done at the end of every year for the new annual budget, all together, so we all know what we're looking at and what we have to work with. Yanking out one thing late (or early) from revenues isn't the most fair or safe process, but Ravenstahl wanted an exclusive spotlight for “giving money to the Hill District” (giving more money to his Authorities) and since he got the votes, that's fine. Also fine to have had a problem with it, and still be an ally to that community in other ways. In my opinion.

  5. Anonymous

    If Burgess's office wasn't rude and in disarray every time I called to inquire about legislation or a community concern, I would be able to take Shawn Carter more seriously.

  6. Alleyne

    I was speaking to Shawn's statement that the poor timing of both the 2009 Prevailing Wage bill and the 2011 fracking ban were down to Bill Peduto not being able to read a calendar. If he's claiming that those two timing debacles were Peduto's fault, I think it's an assertion worthy of backing up with some evidence, because it speaks directly to his competence.

  7. ken

    SO… the interesting thing about Mr. Carters OP-ED is that he does not use the cited material from the commercial.

    1. Homewood Development article

    “However, Councilman Burgess contested the notion that the public hasn't had the opportunity to get involved. He said the opponents of the project have had the chance to testify at several URA community meetings and Zoning Board hearings over the course of two years. Burgess characterized the opposition as an angry handful that's out of synch with Homewood's population of roughly 5,000.”
    This point from Councilman Burgess is telling the public that you have had at least two chances, does not actually say whether any opposition had spoken at either meeting. And, if they did were they actually heard, we all know that the appointed by the Mayor URA board and the appointed by the Mayor ZBA are always willing to do the right thing when it comes to development.

    2. opposing Hill District Development

    The point of this argument against the money to the hill district was not the money itself but rather the process in which they were to receive the money.

    “Voting no were Bruce Kraus, Bill Peduto and Natalia Rudiak, who had expressed concern with using legislation to allocate parking tax money to a specific neighborhood.
    “It strays away from our usual capital budget process,” she said. Ms. Rudiak said she would, however, be willing to vote for a capital budget amendment that allocates money to Hill District projects.”

    3. Living wage
    (interestingly enough I cannot find the article that was cited for this one, I will do more research and get back to you.

    More info on this when I find the info in which they were talking about

  8. Anonymous

    I have worked with Shawn for years. Even when I did not agree with his side of the issue, he was always well thought out and well reasoned.

    In his former position of chairman of finances/government, Bill Peduto was in a VERY powerful position to affect scheduling of all of the bills mentioned. He, along with the president of council (Shields), used this effectively to block many initiatives from other council persons and the executive branch.

  9. Bram Reichbaum

    Always extremely well thought out and well-reasoned in my experience. Sometimes cuts corners on logic or runs interference against clarity if his politics demand it… as do we all. I'm just jealous he talks regularly to a ton of reporters is all.


    Burgess could have worked productively towards passing living wage with his colleagues, or he could have used it suddenly and cynically only when Peduto was about to commit the grave felony of passing Prevailing Wage and looking good in the low- and moderate income community for a day. He used it cynically and ineffectively for people who deserve a Living Wage.

  10. Helen Gerhardt

    Shawn, as another contributor to the Comet, I know that Bram very clearly communicated the guidelines for publishing at this forum. They are not onerous – they are both professional and respectful of our diverse views. He's the editor and creator of this blog. A condition of writing posts here is that he will review the work before hitting the Publish button himself.

    Why did you choose not to respect that basic guideline?

  11. Bram Reichbaum

    That is what I termed his “miscommunication” with me. I invited him via Twitter to write this post. I wasn't expecting him to click publish 3 hours later, although I am acknowledging that with 140 characters & adrenaline, it might have been confusing. What I termed the “minor violation” was the language. Things are cool on my end…

  12. Anonymous

    An anonymous observation – not sure why the post had to be annotated, really, even if it was posted prematurely (according to the rules). Seems like a response could well have been crafted via a comment or another post? At any rate, I thought Shawn's commentary was great, I'll come back for the blue text at some point, maybe.

  13. Anonymous

    This is all crap – both ways. The irony though is that most of the liberals in the East End use the “he hates blacks and poor people” all the time to get what they want. Now, when the shoe is on the other foot they scream bloody. The Homewood senior housing raises a different issue. NO project should be decided by who gets more people to turn out. That is a terrible way to govern on any issue. Seriously, that is why we elect people – to make quality decisions on our behalf. We don't make decisions based on who is able to rally more people on a particular day. That shouldn't even be in the equation for either side. Show some leadership.

  14. flybylight

    The President of City Council is responsible for scheduling and timing. The City Clerk's office keeps track of timing; the Council President directs what happens. (She is the head of the Hearings Committee, too, where that point applies.) I was her chief of staff at that time. Therefore, blame it on me. Any timing problem was my fault, not Bill Peduto's. There, done.

  15. flybylight

    City Council's meetings are posted on line. Everyone can sit and watch entire sections of the meetings as they occurred. We can all hear exactly what was said and in what context.

    Most of what Shawn has written has been taken out of context. (I was there in Council at the time.)

    (Shawn and Councilman Burgess have done that to what I have said at times, too. Shawn can be a nice guy. But he's also one of those who will overhear a conversation in which someone says, “There are blue dogs in the commercial barking at the red cat,” and he'll later quote that person as saying “There are blue dogs,” and use it as a question of that person's integrity or sanity.)

    The Legislative Information Center on the City's website will apparently not let me link the specific pages here because it's search-specific, but one can easily search the referenced legislation, find the Council meetings, and watch the appropriate minutes.

    Listen to what the Councilpersons say. Listen for integrity, listen for how well they understand the issues. (Would that other candidates' histories were posted as patently on line!)

    Shawn Carter has old friends in the Mayor's office.

    There is nothing wrong with having friends – my mother probably has friends in the Mayor's office, too – but as I just posted on the Post-Gazette's site, Ravenstahl wants his team happy for the next seven months. His team wants to keep their jobs and more specifically their power after the election.

    Those in the administration know Bill Peduto won't keep slippery power-mongers. So to keep his cohorts happy, Ravenstahl keeps slamming Peduto's integrity.

    Doesn't that tell you anything? Ravenstahl slams Peduto's integrity? And now so does Shawn Carter.

  16. Shawn Carter

    Alright, flybylight, let's get into this…

    I've taken nothing “out of context.”

    Every single comment I made in response to the press release I read online is accurate, if uncomfortable to say or uncomfortable to read.

    Just tell me which part of what I said is untrue, and I'd be more than happy to discuss it AT LENGTH as well point you in the direction of definitive sources to re-confirm what I've said.

  17. flybylight

    The Living Wage bill is 2010-0005. It was in committee being discussed on January 20, 2010, in the Finance & Law Committee; the video is here. After discussion, the bill was held for a public hearing, Monday, January 25th.

    It returned to Committee after the hearing for discussion on January 27th, video posted here. Jump to about 41 minutes in. (Clicking on the bill outline will jump you there, too.) Council debated amendments being presented by Councilwoman Rudiak.

    At around 43 minutes in, Councilman Burgess put a chip on his shoulder.

    This meeting is well worth watching. It is very informative on all the Councilpersons.

    The bill was ultimately “Affirmatively Recommended as Amended,” at 1:48:07 That means that it passed out of committee with a positive recommendation. (Each Councilperson chairs a committee, and all Councilpersons sit on all committees, so they have the committee meetings all at one sitting.)

    The bill came back to the Regular Council Meeting on February 2, 2010, and the “Matter was Passed Finally on the Consent Agenda.” For some reason the video of that meeting is not watchable on line.

  18. flybylight

    See Ken at 7:58 yesterday. He seems to bring some common sense into the discussion.

    “Untrue” is not a word I used.

    You and your boss often take things out of context, and annoyingly present them as “fact.” Life really is not a court of law in which you get to be the prosecutor and try to trip people up, with or without merit.

    Let me use my personal example, in the possibly vain belief that I am not the only target ever.

    You went uninvited to a meeting of a small special committee formed to draft a letter, the only task with which we'd been tasked, at the only time we could carve out among us. You imposed yourself into a conversation of your own device not pertinent to that letter, and proceeded to inquisition the members of that committee. We entertained you for 45 minutes, at which time I made a motion that we excuse you and get on with the letter writing. No one was brave enough to second the motion, and you stayed and further distracted us, typing notes into your phone, apparently so that you would have quotes to use later.

    Later, in a Council meeting, Councilman Burgess accused Council President Harris' staff (me) of trying to get his staff thrown out of a meeting. He impugned other Councilpersons and their staffs in the same breath, if I recall correctly, for political purpose. I am certain we could look up the meeting, it was probably around October or November 2011. If that is not “out of context,” I don't know what is!

    I suggest that folks watch the Council meetings, and draw their own conclusions. I have posted a couple links; the others are easy enough to find.

  19. Shawn Carter


    This is exactly what I'm talking about. The bill YOU refer to is PREVAILING WAGE.

    Nice try using the term “Living Wage” to describe “Prevailing Wage”

    No one voted against the Prevailing Wage legislation in 2009 or 2010.

    You might try re-reading the Peduto Campaign's press release in response to the ad they complain of.

    City Council, in 2001, passed a Living Wage Ordinance. It was set to go into effect in April 2002.

    Try this bill number:


    This legislation STOPPED the Living Wage Ordinance from going into effect.

    It was introduced March 19, 2002. Council waived the rules so that it would go on the agenda the NEXT day. It received an affirmative recommendation and passed, Tuesday, April 26, with a 5-4 vote.

    And, yes, Councilman Bill Peduto was the FIFTH vote.

    I'm really the wrong guy to play Legistar with…

    But, since you want to go there…

    Go ask Councilman Peduto what part of what I just said is untrue.

  20. Shawn Carter


    You seem determined to repeatedly invoke the ACCBO debacle of 2011.

    I specifically told you at that time that despite the fact that you were right that your position on that issue would ultimately fall victim to the Mayor's veto pen, from which there were an insufficient number of votes to override.

    I also remember strongly urging you to not pursue that route because I already knew that the bill would pass 5-4, and then be vetoed.

    I also told you that I told Paul McKrell that what he said to you in that meeting was wrong and disrespectful.

    As for why I showed up at that meeting, the one that I was “not invited” to, I was instructed to, by my employer to serve as his agent.

    The reason your motion to remove me from the meeting couldn't get a second should have been obvious: The majority of the people in that room either worked for the Mayor, or other Council offices.

    Even had the motion been seconded, I had more votes on my side than you did.

    It's all mechanics.

    After that debacle went down PRECISELY as I said it would, then there was the Billboard Legislation.

    The one Doug Shields had to fix so that it was legal and defensible. And he did the right thing, even if I disagreed with HIM at the time, the Commonwealth Court, just yesterday, vindicated his work on that legislation.

    I don't take things out of context, but more likely I remember them better than you might.

  21. Bram Reichbaum

    Shawn, I don't have an issue with your characterization of the ACCBO episode here. But I'm more interested the decision the Mayor made to suspend (as is his right!) the practice of using the recommendations of the ACCBO board to distribute these funds, which had been going along smoothly and easing conflict for some time, chiefly in order to punish Darlene Harris (and her constituents) for having sided with Bill Peduto for a couple of years, on things like billboards and the parking lease, and for her letting Peduto be Finance Chair.

    I trust Shawn you're cool with how the post turned out? Considering the cluster of liberties you took involving unscheduled publishing and language? I do hate to tread between your authorship, really I do, but you invited the resolution. I feel the Comet has again provided the infotainment and discourse we thirst after…

  22. flybylight

    Shawn, anyone reading what you have just written above can clearly see what I am writing about.

    Numerous times, as Chief of Staff to the Council President, I urged you to send a representative to ACCBO meetings. Your office did not ever once send a representative to any ACCBO meeting during that time.

    Yet your boss felt it important for you to horn in on a small working group meeting to which you were not invited, and you proceeded to dominate it, wasting all our time for no good reason.

    That domination was you, not your boss. You may not hide under his hems, so to speak.

    What I am speaking about here is an attitude. The way you write above – “I told you so” and “I warned you” and “I admonished you” – shows your tone in general.

    We were colleagues on Council staff. It was not yours to do any warning or admonishing, even if you were privy to the secret gyrations the Mayor was planning to subterfuge the entire North Side. It would have behooved you to be open and honest with all your colleagues and come to the table in our meeting room and discuss the matter, before it became an issue, and before the Members had to deal with it.

    Council still does not work that way, sadly, and your office then (and maybe still) was always one of those that was most closed to discussion, or absent from the hallway. And frankly, your boss is rather demeaning to staff members, in that he won't speak with us – he commands us not to speak directly with him, even when we are there to get his signature on a noncontroversial piece of paper.

    Furthermore, the behavior of the Mayor's office and your office during that ACCBO debacle was something I got to experience firsthand. Therefore, I may speak freely about it. There is no hearsay, no allusion. I could mention other incidents, but with these I need go no further than myself.

    And the punishing that Bram speaks about at 12:48 is exactly to the point.

    Today your boss tried to dunk in an amendment to delete the Police/Domestic Violence legislation that was passed in 2007. We were acclaimed across the country for that legislation! Now subsequent to a hold on the bills there will be a meeting of the “working group” – which apparently was convened by either the Mayor or your boss, and from which many of us who worked on the original bill have been excluded – to discuss the further amending to emasculate the legislation.

    Will this working group be a “public meeting”? All Council offices are invited, so it must be a public meeting, by your definition.

    Therefore, we women may be testing your true colors in the near future… because this is an issue – Police and Domestic Violence – on which there is only one correct side in our view: Police may not commit DV, the City will not tolerate police who commit DV, the response will be swift and sure and top-down, and the City therefore will not incur liability of lawsuits such as the one Tacoma, Washington, endured.

    Your and your boss' attitudes can be so divisive. And it would be so easy to be inclusive instead. Let me cite as an example the way we discussed the original Police/DV legislation: all sides of the issue to the table, anyone who wished to join was welcome. We brought in national experts on the topic. (Remember Dave Thomas of Johns Hopkins?) And we hammered out something designed to protect everyone.

    Read your post above again. Very divisive. Unnecessarily so.

  23. Shawn Carter

    flybylight –


    You need to learn how and why things work in government if you're going to continue to question my statements.

    The legislation that brought you such acclaim ACTUALLY forces us to KEEP the offending police officers ON THE PAYROLL.

    They screw up. We fire them. Arbitrator or judge forces us to give them their job back.

    Why? Because the Ordinance only applies to police officers and not the rest of the City's workforce.

    And, as usual, the so-called progressives go nuts whenever anyone has the temerity to tell them they're wrong or that they made a mistake, even with the best of intentions.

    Gotta work on that.

  24. flybylight

    Shawn, you are overstating the problem, understating the failure of the city lawyers to defend the case, and you are forgetting that the arbitrators are ones approved by the FOP.

    The Deputy Solicitor said – on tv in council – that Pennsylvania permits holding police officers to a higher standard. So maybe (and I mean maybe) our law holds the officers to a higher standard than other employees. The lawyer defending the case says, “Gee, Mr. Arbitrator, the Commonwealth permits us to hold police to a higher standard, as they are the ones responding to the calls when citizens and especially their own are committing domestic violence.”

    Their inability to defend the case was only half the excuse that the Solicitor's Office put forth. The other half was something that is a given – that women do not want to testify.

    Changing the law will not change that women do not testify. But weakening the law will not make the women any safer. The goal is not to weaken the law, and allow the women to stay in the abusive situation. That leaves the women and our City at risk. The goal is to either deter the perpetrating officer from abusing his /her family and friends, or provide secure redress from superior officers for the victim.

    Not legislating the policy means that the Chief of Police could have changed it the next day. Mandating that the policy stay in force and be worded as it is was fully intentional and is not up for question.

    The Chief of Police is under all sorts of influences (don't we know?), and so one day should the FOP say it wants the policy gone, were it not legislated it could then be gone.

    Your taking that supercilious attitude – which matches what your boss did in the Council meeting yesterday – is offensive.

    I know only too well how and why things work in government, and I have committed a goodly portion of my life to changing them.

  25. Anonymous

    Fly — what do you have against expanding the DV policy to every City employee?

    If the arbitrators are saying they can't support it because it does not apply to all employees — solve the problem by applying to all. You thereby take the arbitrators' argument away.

  26. Shawn Carter

    Actually, the Citywide Stimulus Bill DID pass. And was later extended from 2014 to 2017.

    So the true economic impacts (or cost to the taxpayers to the benefit of developers) of the tax break we won't know until 2020.

  27. Anonymous

    the reality is that Bill votes against projects not because he hates any group of people, he votes against projects because he hates the council person supporting the project. bill is the absolute worst at the very things he accuses others of doing. Just wait, if he wins there will be a witch hunt to seek and destroy anyone who supposed Luke or Jack or anyone else bill doesn't like. He will oppose your project, your bill, your supporters and everyone else just to prove a point and “get back” at people. He has no interest in mind except his own. I can guarantee he will fill jobs and boards with supporters and try and crush everyone else. If you support Bill and have even one fleeting moment of belief that such actions are justified, then you get what you deserve.

  28. flybylight

    A DV policy covering every City employee was enacted a few years ago. It even came with a board of oversight.

    It's all already there! But note that police must be held to a higher standard, because (a) they are the ones responding to DV calls and the public must trust them, and (b) when they are committing DV they have the ability to stalk better, to hide from the law better, to avoid arrest better, etc. And that puts the victims at greater risk and it puts our City at greater risk, too.

    Loosening the Police DV policy is not an option. In a state that the Solicitor's office says permits municipalities to hold police to a higher standard, why is that an issue?

    The arbitrators, of course, must be “approved” by the Fraternal Order of Police, though.

    I truly do not know what the arbitrator thought was missing, but the solicitor's office should have stricken that idea down right from the start. The City cannot afford anything less than zero tolerance for police committing DV.

  29. flybylight

    On the contrary, I have not met another councilperson nor another candidate with more open ears, with such a delight in new ideas, with such enthusiasm for taking best practices to new levels than Bill Peduto.

    We can eliminate the days when “streets don't get plowed because of the Councilperson” as was in the Post-Gazette letters to the editor today. What baloney! The Councilperson does not have a plow, and the Mayor should not be assigning street plowing by which Councilperson he feels plays whatever game right.

    We can eliminate all the subterfuge, all the favoritism, all the cronyism that currently exists. There is a reason all those currently with power conveyed by Ravenstahl are sidling up to Wagner: they want to keep their power and influence.

    Whoever is the next Mayor, I hope he does fire the selfish power-mongers in the Mayor's Office now, he can start with McKrell. Why would that be a bad thing?

    Meanwhile, and to your allusions, I have not ever seen Bill Peduto vote against something because of hating a Councilperson. I have not seen him or his staff unwilling to discuss any legislation – in fact his door is always open, through the years his staff has discussed most issues eagerly. Improvement or change has always been an option to Peduto.

    Anonymous 8:18, you have no basis at all for what you say. You should apply it directly to the current Mayor and leave it there.

  30. Anonymous

    Fly – can't agree with your assessment of Bill Peduto. I have had many dealings with council and he, while always polite, was one of the most self-centered persons on council that I have ever run into.

    Agree with you whole heartily on cleaning out the political hacks in the mayor's office. First cleaning should not be McKrell, it should be Zober.

    And I do share your concerns about Ferlo supporting Wagner. I think that Wagner has the maturity to not be unduly influenced by people like Ferlo.

    The first tell on this will be if he gets rid of Zober, McKrell and Mazefsky. If he does not get rid of these three, you and the rest of the folks supporting Bill Peduto will be proven right.

  31. Pingback: Modern Pittsburgh and Community Policing | The Pittsburgh Comet

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