Guys accused of illegally selling drugs, guys accused of illegally selling guns - Public Works employees - guys selling drugs off-duty, guys getting high at work, guys drinking, guys stealing gas ... a substantial number of people with criminal pasts ... what is the deal with so many employees with criminal pasts?
This is how KDKA's Marty Griffin begins to engage Mayor Ravenstahl on the topic of criminality among city workers.
In turn, the Mayor reveals that last week, the City began doing background checks on all current city employees -- "absolutely yes."
However, he quickly made exceptions for the police and fire departments, for all union employees, and finally for all current Public Works employees. By the end, only new applicants to the Mayor's Office, the Law Department, and Parks & Recreation were cited as targets.
The reason to exclude union employees is of course existent collective bargaining agreements -- although the Mayor is declining his option to re-open the fire fighter's contract this year, which might have been advisable anyways, for financial reasons.
The reasons given to exclude Public Works are that it would be too costly, and that some of the felons who lied on their job applications deserve a second chance.
Left unsaid is the notion that there are cliques within the Department of Public Works that operate as semi-organized criminal syndicates -- using political influence, blackmail, and even threats of violence to protect their petty criminal enterprises.
There, we said it.