Thursday, August 23, 2007

Crime and No Punishment

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.


  1. Just what did you expect? The mayor to take action? Be upfront? Honest?

  2. "We" said it. Who, exactly, is the "we" in "Bram" with that gem of statement?

    I'm sure that there are a few in public works that want to know who the we was back then there N@.

    I think strong statements like that come, more often than not, from individuals. Don't run from them.

  3. We have a long established tradition of using the royal "we" in reference to the blog editor.

  4. Things are more clear now.

    "We" (the unroyal ones) went over the use of the 'royal we' at the The Hill House gathering. Remember when J.E. came to town?

    So, just to be clear, for the benefit of the Public Works Guys, it was BRAM, and only BRAM who posted that there are cliques within the Dept. of Public Works that operate as a semi-organized criminal syndicate -- using political influence, blackmail, and even threats of violence to protect their petty criminal enterprises.

    That's BRAM's post, ROYAL BRAM.

    Blowback is a bitch.

    Bram might be on an island.

  5. As long as we're being clear, "cliques within" are CLIQUES WITHIN.

    I just had some extremely positive interactions with DPW guys working on my street, who went out of their way to keep my car out of the pound, and gave me advice on an absentee landlord nearby. They seemed quite law abiding and very hard working in hot weather.

    Do you doubt the substance of what I said, Mark?

  6. Did you introduce yourself to the DPW guys when you interacted with them?

    You could say: "Thanks for not towing my car. I'm Bram. I blog that DPW has cliques that operate as a semi-organized criminal syndicate -- using political influence, blackmail, and even threats of violence to protect their petty criminal enterprises.

    "Would you like a glass of lemonaid? Can I buy you an iced tea?"


    My point to you isn't about the substance, rather the approach. I'll want to counter attack with precision aimed straight to the brain.

    I'm thinking that if you are going to get into a tangle with a big monster, you find the pressure points that are in the head, the brain, the gray matter. The eyes are good places to hit early too.

    You know the Harry Potter battle with the giant snake. Bang on the eyes -- then hit the brain.

    There is a lot of "substance" within the "body."

    If we can do a brain transplant -- or an eye transplant -- then we'll win.

    The race for controller fits into this saga when talking about the 'eyes.'

    We've been looking at the wrong things. Even within the controller's office they had one who was selling drugs -- out of the city office!

    I have problems with the city of Pittsburgh. But the real trouble is with the leadership. The top levels have failed the worst.

    Bang on the body if you wish. Life is too short for me to do that. I'll try to be much more effective.

  7. Sometimes, Mark, leadership can be embarrassed into doing the right thing, which I suspect is Bram's aim. Exposing wrongdoing is always a worthy pursuit. I've yet to see how your approach is "effective." For that matter, I don't even know what your approach is.

  8. Did Bram expose wrongdoing or just make up (post) some strong accusations?

    I'm all in favor of watchdogs.

    My approach includes blogging, of course. My blog has been named one of the most influential political blogs in Pennsylvania. Perhaps you didn't see that.

    My approach includes running for office and helping others do the same. Did you notice that we have a Libertarian (running mate) in the Mayor's race. Plus, with my two slots and some indies -- we have more than doubled what the Republicans have put onto the ballot.

    As to being a candidate and making solution suggestion that are effective -- did you see that 3-1-1 was talked about in my last election. It is NOW part of the range of city services.

    Remember the R.F.P. about the only indoor ice rink (other than Mellon Arena) that has been closed for years? Without my noise, the RFP would have never been released by city planning.

    My approach has brought wins and victories in the past, and they will continue in the future. Othewise, Tom Murphy might still be mayor.

  9. I'm sorry ... did you just take credit for ousting Tom Murphy?

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  11. Yes, if "YOU" means "you" -- as in the "ROYAL YOU."

    You is plural. Or, did you mean to type 'yinz'???

    It is a fact that 2001's election was Tom Murphy's last. Murphy could NOT run again after 2001.

    I played roles among of the 'naysayers' that insured that Tom Murphy's reign came to a close. Credit noted.

    Back in the day, Bram, you were not around. Then when you did surface, we came to find out that you were drinking the Murphy 'kool aid' on the lark of getting an ultimate frisbee field.

    Plus, with inflation, one does not need to go back to the 1970s * to make that credit valued.

    * That's an insider's joke or two. Bram mentioned in his PodCamp2 presentation that I've been blogging / on the net since the 1970s. ;)

  12. If I was drinking any Murphy kook-aid, it was before I "surfaced," so to speak. But we are getting off-topic. You said:

    "My point to you isn't about the substance, rather the approach."

    "There is a lot of "substance" within the "body.""

    "I have problems with the city of Pittsburgh. But the real trouble is with the leadership. The top levels have failed the worst."

    Did you catch that, DPW? Not only did MARK RAUTERKUS testify that there is a "lot of substance" to my accusations, but he asserts that the problem starts at the top, at Guy Costa and Tony Pokora!

    No man is an island, Mark.

  13. Tony Pakora is not DPW. He is for still a short time the city controller. Tony is about to become history.

    Yes, there are lots of problems with Tony P's leadership -- watchdog efforts -- and thinking. That is why I'm running for City Controller -- his old post.

    I'd love to replace Tony P.

    Blog postings on comments here is not a way to 'testify.'

    As for Guy Costa: He won't be around forever. And, he isn't at the top anyway.

    Do bang on Tony and Guy, and Guy's boss, Luke. That is encouraged.