Friday, May 31, 2013

Wade murder not linked to Officer-Involved Domestic Violence. Why treat it that way?

By Beth Pittinger

This debate on the proposed amendment to the City Code to establish as an official, permanent, City Board or Commission, a Domestic Violence Review Board, Advisory Panel, Task Force, etc. is distracting from what many have amplified: this is NOT about Officer Involved Domestic Violence (OIDV). We need everyone to focus on developing an adequate, responsive and accountable system of police intervention in community based incidents of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)/ Domestic Violence (DV), etc.

Right now there are two Domestic Violence Review Boards in the City (controlled by the administration) and one independent Citizen Police Review Board whose charter mandates review of all things related to police. Personally, I see Bill 2013-1482 as redundant, extraordinarily so, but I also see a very important purpose for a temporary, ad hoc,  task-driven group of IPV/DV advisors related to the implementation of the Maryland Lethality Assessment Protocol.

I would encourage appointment of a focused advisory task force impaneled to sit concurrently with the 24 month implementation of the Maryland LAP. They would provide guidance, research and evaluation related to the LAP project.  At the end of the two years, the need to codify such an advisory group could be reconsidered.

The substance of the landmark 2007 OIDV legislation must be off the table, and the public be assured that there is NOT a surreptitious intention to impanel this IPV/DV Board/Panel/Task Force for the real purpose of dissecting and deconstructing the OIDV ordinance. This is a common suspicion and, if accurate, is certainly not the way to go about a policy debate. It’s a sneaky notion and one that betrays public trust.

The sponsor, Councilman Burgess, set forth a legislative package to honor Ms. Wade and hopefully to prevent a similar event in the future. Officers responded to Ms. Wade as a call for “unknown trouble” not a call known to be DV related. Ms. Wade was not the victim of OIDV. So how did we get to an agenda apparently seeking to review OIDV under the guise of police implementing the Maryland Lethality Assessment under the direction of a third domestic violence advisory entity?

Another issue that comes up is the alleged disparate treatment of cops as a class different from other employees (yes, we know they are, but nonetheless...) by amending the Citywide DV policy (ordinance derived from 2010-0009) to include the OIDV instead of OIDV residing under the Director of Public safety, but to bring that up now would make it muddier than it is already!

Beth Pittinger is Executive Director of the Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB), an independent agency within the City of Pittsburgh set up to investigate citizen complaints about improper conduct by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. This editorial commentary does not reflect the official position of the CPRB.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

All eyes on Donzi's Landing, at the intersection of Transition & Transformation

MTV's Geek

Just when you thought the plot couldn't thicken.

Buncher Company has long owned an immense tract of under-developed riverfront land in the Strip District right next to Downtown. It has a development plan that recently has been advancing.

The city's URA owns a five-block long building right in the middle of it. A railroad also owns an easement upon it, and is asserting some interests. The river itself has a stake in its shoreline, and the People have a stake in both expanding Downtown and in keeping our best assets livable and fabulous.


The five-block-long Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction and Sales building, which is expected to be a linchpin of a 50-plus-acre development on surrounding land owned by the Buncher Co., has been formally nominated for historic status.

Lawrenceville resident Sarah Kroloff and Preservation Pittsburgh filed a nomination for the building with the city’s Historic Review Commission on Tuesday morning, an action spurred in part by the demolition permit posted on it. (Tim Schooley, PBT Next Move)

Historic nominations take about a 3-6 month period to process. The Ravenstahl administration of today and the Peduto administration of Jan. 1, 2014 have different notions whether the Buncher's present plans should move forward -- or if these plans should be dialed back and re-thought with a business model reliant on more creativity and that is more sensitive to the wishes of others.

Ordinarily, this is just the sort of thing that turns to fisticuffs. We shall see.

P-G, Belko: Demo permits issued, railroad unhappy.
P-G, Smydo: Council approves zoning 5-4.
Trib, Boren: Buncher forgoes TIF
The Trib: Let's Not!
P-G, O'Neill: Go for greatness.
P-G, Belko: 45% of Buncher stock now with non-profits.
Councilman Dowd: Lots of material.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A new Advisory Board: Who will be invited to the Table?

By Helen Gerhardt

On Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 at 1:00 pm, at the request of Pittsburgh City Council Member Theresa Kail-Smith, there will be a Council public post agenda hearing for discussion of legislation introduced by City Council Member, Rev. Burgess, Bill No. 2013-1482, entitled, Establishment of Pittsburgh Domestic Violence Advisory Board.

This post is an invitation to begin a preliminary discussion of questions like these:

  • In light of the past few years, what roles and powers would such a panel usually have? How should this panel function differently?
  • What main questions and concerns should this Advisory Panel address? 
  • What do you think the short, medium and long term outcome goals of such a panel should be?
  • What organizations, stakeholders and interest groups should be represented on the advisory panel? 
  • How will the invitation and selection process to the panel be managed and communicated to the public? 
  • How might such a panel work to engage, learn from and educate a wider range of communities and stakeholders?
  • How should such a panel function? 
  • Should all meetings be open to the public? 
  • How should ongoing Advisory Panel functions, meetings and findings be communicated with greater Pittsburgh and stakeholders? 
  • How might such a panel function most effectively in advising Council members in the crafting of legislation and policy?
  • How might such a panel engage the FOP to build better grounds for more effective community policing in neighborhoods most in need of more effective domestic violence response?
I may add links in this space to information which is suggested during our discussions and during interviews with various officials and experts over the next few days. Next week I will be writing a new post after I digest whatever Stone Soup we cook up together.

The Pittsburgh Investigation: Come And Get It!


"Once the feds get involved and people start down the cooperation path, you never know what you're going to end up with," said veteran defense attorney Stanton D. Levenson. "And I think that's what you're seeing. They're moving into areas they didn't know about originally. (Mod Squad, Post-Gazette)

My speculation is that the Feds are convinced they have something on people higher up than Harper - given their confidence in allowing numerous wee details to leak out over time, since that time.

But now that we are finally past the primary election, and a "new coalition" running on a believable promise of a "clean sweep" has won, it is certainly possible that more individuals will be willing to blow rusty whistles and share new perspectives with the Pittsburgh Investigators - for the sake of the accuracy and appropriateness of whatever charges are coming. Important to get this right. Preferable to be on the right side of history.

While we're on the subject... remember that public-to-political e-mail lists theory? A new respondent has since reached out to this blog, who has received Wagner campaign e-mails in an account used at, and for, a place of employment over 20 miles from Pittsburgh. That would seem to rule out the exonerating theory of e-mail lists purchased from firms "by zip code". The respondent further denies ever having subscribed to any political campaign through that account, ruling out the other legitimating avenue. But yes, the respondent indeed claims it had previously been used to sign up for e-mails "from the City (of Pittsburgh) and the Mayor."

In any event, ring the City Bell if we learn anything new and conclusive about investigations into our city. ProTip: If you have helped, that bell will sound more lovely.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: Can we conjure the fallen to inform our future?

Sirens & Gavels; Spokane S-R

Bloggers typically get to pick and choose which mile markers and civic events in the real world they are inclined to acknowledge.

Yet for the holiday set aside to remember those who offered up their lives in desperate efforts that we all might democratically scribble and scheme in pursuit of civic changes, bliss or even vengeance, there is no option:

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude, -- the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith. (Gen. John A. Logan, 1868)

In recent months we have had occasion to recall wounds still fresh and be roused by passions terribly heated. It is uncomfortable to contemplate the dissonant implications of living in a democratic nation with a large standing army active around the world foiling innumerable determined adversaries so bitterly resentful of our history.

As we attempt to cope and to grow as a nation, let us all throughout remember our fallen soldiers of each era, and attempt to conjure how they would now wish their lives and missions be remembered.

MORE: American Legacy Publishing