Sunday, July 12, 2009

Public Works Land: Open Thread

Inconsistency of personnel discipline, accusations of selective enforcement, a lack of any domestic abuse policy -- and of course the end of Guy Costa's roller-coaster ride -- go!

Think there is anything interesting about the timing of the resignation announcement and the raft of investigative reports?

RESOURCE: Busman's Holiday (Oct. '08): "Costa: I feel blindsided"


  1. Bram:
    I would say that Luke took this news to oust Guy. Art Victor is/was Guy's boss. Who's to blame who? What about the bosses under Guy? Why didn't they correct the problems? Why didn't Art Victor or Luke take corective action? We can not place all the blame on Guy. Guy is coming out of this as the scape goat. I would say that he isn't.

  2. Every mayor has resignation letters of all directors sitting in their desk drawer just waiting for a date - the word on the street for months was that as soon as Luke got past the primary Costa would be gone. Trust me, he will land on his feet. Every Costa does . . . and Guy may be the one who actually has some real skills.

  3. How 'bout the timing of a Public Works Implosion and the looming G20?

    Guy's been around a few administrations. I bet he has all kinds of stories and I'm sure at least one of his kin's an attorney. May he walk proud in the sunshine.

    Glad to see your babble back

  4. I ran over my 'X' with a stolen car while drunk on 'Bud Light W Lime". She stole my crack pipe...she had it coming.

    When the cop came I punched her in the nose...escaped and burnt a house in Sheraden by lighting my underwear and throwing on roof of house...

    I'll go to work tomorrow knowing I have a good job with the City...

    Oops, better toss the unregistered gun into the Mon.

  5. Damn, feel like wet blanket...

    Geez, the gun was registered.

    Hiding it in grill...

    (Us, Monks...are pretty smart!)

    I post and everybody goes home...

    ...Nice to have home to go to..ha-ha...

  6. I will microwave this evening's meal...grilling out is not an option.

    Possible lead poisoning...

    Does expiration date on Hungry Man Dinners mean anything? (ABBA is playing on 1320 WJAS) 'Dancing Queen'... reminds me of meal I once had... (ABBA was huge in 70's Europe.)

    In 1975 ate C-rations from 1952 (Korean War)...I'm still here.

    1999 expiration date for Hungry Man Dinner...not a problem.

    What was worst food you ever ate?

    Mom's is not an option

  7. While I suspect that anon 12:41's first assertion is not accurate (about undated letters in a desk) his second has a ring of truth (about how the primary gave Our Mayor that much more power to do something like this). If it is true that the Mayor forced Costa out, or if his brothers merely suspect it is true, Our Mayor may have made the City's relations with the State that much worse. If I were the Mayor (ha) I would have asked Costa what he needed done to stay.

    I am not optimistic about who the Mayor will get to replace Costa.

  8. It is clear that there are significant issues within the department of public works.

    Perhaps it is time for new leadership.

    Pittsburgh will miss Guy's weather and snow removal updates.

    However, change starts at the top. Perhaps the new DPW Director will change the cronyism that has persisted in this department over the past 100 years.

    The new director will have to continue the delivery of city services during one of the worst economic times the city has ever faced, during a period of ever decreasing revenues, and a crumbling infrastructure.

    This is not going to be an easy job, and I know I wouldn't want it...

  9. "unregistered gun"

    You don't have to register guns around these parts Monk.

  10. Matt H:
    Aren't all hand guns registered when purchased?

  11. No, they only check to see that you are able to own a firearm. The PSP does keep that information, but it's incomplete, so it's not a registry.

  12. I guess I can get my 1851 Confederate 44. caliber out of the grill (cap and ball pistol).

    Purchased from Cablea's. Sent to and was left on Bunker steps...

    No registration whatsoever..purchase order does exsist however.

  13. On a serious note...

    The disparity study done recently identified portions of City Workforce that were underpaid and some that were overpaid...

    Problems in Public Works as opposed to skilled workers, clerical there are no testing criteria for Laborers.

    In many instances unskilled make more than skilled...

    If the Unions representing unskilled laborers, fights to keep felons on payroll...Privatization will ensue..

    It will bring pay discrepancies in line...

    The Unions representing PW employees treads on razor thin ice...

  14. Monk comments:

    "If the Unions representing unskilled laborers, fights to keep felons on payroll...Privatization will ensue.."

    Yeah I have to say -- although inconsistency in disciplinary attempts isn't going to help (I was shocked Lord made it all the way through those 3 pieces without once having to write, "who is also a member of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee") and of the criminality he detailed is pretty disturbing -- I'm not inclined to use this to bash the administration. It seems like the way things work at the level of the unions and civil service commissions and arbitrators, managing the workforce is pretty much impossible.

    What I do wonder about is Art Victor's statement implying that it's tough finding law-abiding help because so few people are willing to take these jobs. I just wonder -- and I don't doubt for a minute its all hard hard hard work -- what are these employees getting paid? What are the benefits? Work is hard to come by, and I've got to imagine full-time steady city work would get snapped up in this economy in a heartbeat.

  15. Monk,

    I agree with that assessment also. I am of the opinion that people looking for work, are not adverse to getting paid for an honest days work. Regardless if that means laborer. That leads right back to how do people get those jobs? Do they get them simply by applying? I think we both know differently. That is why you cannot absolve this administration for recent hires in some city Unions, and past administrations for prior hires in some city unions.

    That being said, people are people. Regardless of how thorough a background check, you cannot always know how a person will turn out 5, 10, 15 years down the road. That is life. Sometimes basically good people screw up somewhere and did a bad thing, were scared straight and have no further infractions, and sometimes, Good people who were hired turn bad. If you look at the percentage through out the city of employees who truly screw up royally, compared to the general population, not in city employ, would the results be similar?

  16. I'm feeling bad for all of the suspended workers whose names and past (sometimes long past) crimes are being printed in the paper. I like Rich Lord and trust his journalistic judgment, but I'm really wondering what the point is of exposing these guys. I'm hoping that it's to illustrate that often times, hiring convicted felons is OK.

  17. What, no press release yet from Kevin Gastmeyer calling out Luke for hiring criminal trash collectors?

  18. Actually, today was Abandoned Property Day for them:

  19. The solutions to these problems are very simple.
    To fill laborer jobs, just put an ad in the paper and you will get a zillion applications.
    To eliminate felons, do criminal background checks.
    Laborers jobs are political picks because they are not required to take tests. These jobs have been political forever.

  20. Anon 9:34 AM - Actually, unless I misread, only those convicted felons who lied on their employment applications got "exposed" in these articles. The City does deserve the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to offer these "second chances".

  21. If you do criminal backgroud checks, you will find out who is lying before they are hired.

  22. Very ugly in town today...know several of those mentioned in PG Story By Rich Lord....

    Would not hesitate to hire those who have proven themselves over many years.

    Good people do stupid things and all deserve 2nd chances.

    I hear that there will be Job Opportunities within the City of Pittsburgh due to increased work load...Law Department.

    Because I mused about privatization in future does not mean I advocate....

    Maybe there should be some sort of amnesty...before crating personnel policies?

  23. I don't quite understand your point Bram. Yes, they were people who lied on their job applications. So why not just report that fact alone, rather than revealing the underlying crime that they were trying to hide? And yes, I guess the city deserves a second chance to decide if these guys warrant job... just as much as the suspended workers deserved a first chance at the job, which they surely would not have had if they had admitted on their applications to being convicted felons. So the system is flawed; ruling everybody out if they admit to a conviction isn't fair and may be just as bad as lying.

  24. Bram;

    I knew a City of Pittsburgh Laborer once, now deceased...

    He had a saying that perhaps only those living in the quagmire of the 'Justice System' can appreciate.

    I ask for a little leeway on his behalf...some may be offended.(nothing that you wouldn't here in an R-rated movie)

    To censor his remarks would be an 'Injustice', given circumstances...

    He said, "Suck one small dick and they call you a big cocksucker for the rest of your life"

    My friend was based in reality...

  25. Well I guess there's a trade-off. In the private sector, arguments like "people deserve second chances" and "ruling people out just because they've been convicted of a felony isn't right" don't even make it off the launching pad. It's like, no. More important not to take a chance with my business thank you.

    The flip-side is, if one lands a public-sector job and one gets caught having lied on an employment application or anything else, one's name winds up in the newspaper.

  26. So, Bernie Madoff begins serving his 150 year sentence today...

    Already, his lawyers are asking that incarceration be in 'special prison for white collar criminals'.

    Why do we have separate prisons based on color of collar and skin?

    And, why haven't all City Departments faced the same scrutiny as Public Works?

  27. Bram, If that were true, that convicted felons were never hired by the private sector, there would be no "work release" or half way houses that also provide work release.

    All of those people are not employed by the public sector. All of the convicted politicians through the years, are they also unemployed? No, they are recycled into hidden jobs by other politicians.

  28. Anon 6;12

    Where will Guy Costa work next?

    It will not be in laborer capacity.

    Face the facts, folks...Guy, was not qualified but connected...

    Don't yunz wish you had on the job training and a blind eye looking the other way when you screwed up...

    Guy had agenda, wanted to be Mayor...resented Art Victor's discipline.

    Guy Costa reminds me of Pete Wagner... Pete has nice job working for Dan Onarato...

    Dan, is smuck...(will vote Corbett for Gov) balls, as long as Pete Wagner is on payroll...

  29. Monk,
    You know he didn't leave unless he had something waiting in the wings, and yes, he is connected, and that is why I don't feel bad for him. I don't think he feels too bad about leaving either.

  30. tough call. i heard penn hills after the skirmish about a year ago. lately, it's allegheny county.

    consider... currently there is one director for public works and one deputy director underneath him covering maintenance, administration and engineering and construction. a year and half ago there were three deputies and one director.

    forcast: current director wants to retire. Costa takes deputy director position for maintenance. One to two years, director retires and Costa moves up.

    Maintenance deputy is usually never in the office, but he would share a floor with Pete for those keeping score.

  31. Dear Monk.

    I don't read your posts.


  32. Dear Monk,

    I read your post and I wondered what type of illness or disability you have. Do you have a social worker?


  33. Illness I suffer from is knowledge...I have 3 Social Workers with whom I confide with regularly...My daughters all of which are in positions to render 'qualified' opinions.

    Some insight: City Felons/Rich Lord


    Spoke to an individual this morning face to face...was contacted by Rich Lord by written letter sent via USPS.

    The wording of letter that was recalled from memory, was something that I never encountered before.
    The recipient did as he was instructed to do and called Rich. Rich insisted several times that employee was convicted of a felony...

    ...after denying accusations leveled by Rich, respondent said Rich wanted him to 'rat out others.'

    The Post Gazette should print the contents of these letters in their paper...

    I forget exactly what the definition of "Yellow Journalism" is....

    Maybe I can get letter and forward to you Bram....

    The Felons have widespread support from City and County Employees... they should

  34. Not Sure If Story By PG Is Yellow Journalism By Definition. Printing Of Letter Sent To Suspected Felons Would Clarify.


    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Yellow journalism is a type of journalism that downplays legitimate news in favor of eye-catching headlines that sell more newspapers. It may feature exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, sensationalism, or unprofessional practices by news media organizations or journalists. Campbell (2001) defines Yellow Press newspapers as having daily multi-column front-page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps color), heavy reliance on unnamed sources, and unabashed self-promotion. The term was extensively used to describe certain major New York City newspapers about 1900 as they battled for circulation. By extension the term is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion, such as systematic political bias. Yellow journalism can also be the practice of over-dramatizing events.

  35. Only an insane person or perhaps one that is living on edge would ask...

    "Is thumbprint on top of Dinty Moore can of beef stew …

    identified in forensic laboratories,…admissible in Court”?

    Moore, Dinty....please!