I need to talk to you about something you did that brings to mind words like “stabbity” or “sporky” or “gross misuse of tax-payer dollah dollah bills.”
I like that last one.
It’s street. Like you apparently are if you need three bodyguards earning over $200,000 in overtime pay in two years just to protect you from, well, I don’t know what.
Yourself? The pigeons? Potholes? Peduto? Peter Piper who picked a peck of pickled peppers and then decided to accost you on the streets of Pittsburgh?
You are Luke Ravenstahl, the mayor of Pittsburgh. There are countless people on earth more threatened than you who do not have your level of publicly-funded 24-hour protection. Attorney Generals. Criminal defense lawyers. Abortion doctors. Yet you’ve managed to rack up more overtime pay for security detail in two years than Mayor Murphy did in TWELVE YEARS, according to Bill Peduto. That’s almost comical.
Keep in mind that I’ve had dealings with both Mayors Murphy and O’Connor and county executive Dan Onorato, and I have had interactions with each of their security details. Yours is by FAR the most posse-like. I’m not going to get into details here about the differences between administrations, because that’s actually not the point of my letter to you.
My point is that you were asked by KDKA to go on record about this gross abuse of overtime pay by your security detail and you said, and I quote, “It’s not a story.”
I beg to differ.
Here’s why it’s a story. Because of the faltering pension. Because of your threats to cut overtime pay for regular hard-working cops while your elite security detail is taking baths in cold hard cash. Because of the supposed reason you cut the South Side patrols that were doing an effective job of cutting down on what makes the South Side turn into Sodom and Gomorrah each weekend.
We the people are not stupid. We know the real reason you cut the South Side patrols. Because you were angry that Kraus wouldn’t support your parking lease plan after you met with him to ask him to. If I were outlining the story, it would go like this: South Side patrols are working four weekends in a row. The police announce the patrols are working and that they will continue. You meet with Kraus, Shields and others to ask support of the lease plan. Kraus says no. Nate Harper suddenly, mysteriously, out of the blue cuts South Side patrols claiming:
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard, repeating the explanation she gave last week, said the city’s yearly pool of money for special details is dwindling. Some, she said, has to be kept in reserve for emergencies.
You see? Forgetting for a minute the likely real reason the South Side patrols were canceled, what you’re saying is that there’s not enough money to protect the residents of the South Side from drunken escapades, illegal parking, property destruction and public urination, but there’s plenty to keep you all posse-ed up with the constant companions you call “security.”
That is a story.
It’s a story of entitlement, perceived celebrity status, tax dollar misuse, overtime abuse, and political fighting that detrimentally affected the South Side residents. Each of those is a story standing all by itself, and together?
Big story. Calling it a non-story is an insult to the taxpayers whose dollars you’re spending, and ignoring it won’t make it go away. Transparency, ethical leadership, and accountability will.