Bill Peduto. 2007 photo.
Mayoral challenger Bill Peduto widened his criticism of Luke Ravenstahl's handling of the police bureau finances investigation, claiming it's the latest example of "corruption" in the adminstratation since the mayor took over in mid-2006.
Peduto said the latest matter reminded him -- and should remind voters in the May 21 Democratic primary "to connect the dots" -- of past events involving a public safety director (UPDATE: actually, operations director) who intervened in police discipline to a city water and sewer authority chairman who resigned in 2011 over his ties to a firm that won an agency contract, to a URA director who complained of public corruption upon resigning in 2008.
"We're on a roller coaster ride and it seems like we've been on one for about six years, starting at the very beginning in the public safety scandal that occurred in the mayor's office and then the PWSA and the URA scandals and corruption charges, and now within our own police bureau. At some point the people of Pittsburgh have to put the dots together and figure out that it is -- as Pat Ford called it when he was leaving the URA -- a 'culture of corruption.'"
Ravenstahl's 2009 Democratic mayoral challenger, Councilman Patrick Dowd, made similar claims in the last mayoral race but they did little to impede his eventual reelection.
Peduto made the comments after discussing gun violence with a group of black clergy in Homewood. Some African-American leaders are critical of Ravenstahl's firing Wednesday of Chief Nate Harper (who is black). Peduto said last week that Harper should have been put on leave until he is charged or cleared in the FBI probe.
"Nate Harper served as more than a chief of police -- he also served as a community leader," Mr. Peduto said. "I can understand where there would be trepidation of jumping on board with the firing, but at the same time I would hope community leaders would let the process continue."
UPDATE: The mayor confirmed this morning that his two police bodyguards are among those with debit cards issued by the police credit union, which are part of the FBI probe.
UPDATE 2: Fellow mayoral candidate Michael Lamb has some more questions for Ravenstahl too. From his campaign:
"The Mayor still has failed to answer questions from the citizens of Pittsburgh. Ravenstahl used his entire press conference trying to convince the public that he is not the target of the investigation, rather than addressing the concerns of the people of Pittsburgh.
"Mayor Ravenstahl, why won't you tell the public what knowledge you have of the secret account and when you learned of it?
"What did you learn that made you change your mind about Chief Harper?
"Why would your security detail need access to a secret bank account if they were conducting official city business?"
"Who else had access to the account and what did they use it for?
"How could the use of the secret account to pay for city business be acceptable?
"Have you ever benefitted from this account?
"How are you going to reestablish the public trust and ensure that the police force is in the best position possible to protect the people of Pittsburgh?
"The Chief's resignation did not answer these questions. The people of Pittsburgh need and deserve answers and the Mayor must be prepared to answer them."