A very surprising move today by Luke Ravenstahl in replacing the city's police review board. Beyond the connections to his current squabble with the board, it also reminds one of the time he asked for the resignations of department heads citywide in June 2007, and questions about the ethics of naming his brother to the city-county sewer authority.
Might the move further increase tension between the city and supporters of Homewood teen Jordan Miles (right), who have been clamoring to see the city's investigation of his arrest and beating by three city police officers, and for those officers to be prosecuted?
The review board was created by a voter referendum in May 1997, in the wake of the beating death of black motorist Jonny Gammage in 1995 (at the hands of suburban and city police) and a 1997 federal consent decree alleging widespread city police misconduct.
Might Ravensthal's move also resurrect pesky questions about gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato's role in the board's creation? Onorato -- a city councilman back then -- opposed it. From a story I did in 2003:
During the debate on the police review board, which Onorato opposed, saying it would unnecessarily duplicate misconduct investigations by the city's office of municipal investigations, the anger showed repeatedly.
In an October 1996 debate, Onorato and Ferlo repeatedly shouted at one another, calling each other a "race-baiter." After a series of hearings in July 1996, Onorato complained that review board supporters were the "same group jumping around from hearing to hearing," to which Valerie McDonald responded, "We are all black, but we do not all look alike." Onorato called her comments "bull crap."
And will the mayor have the city council votes to pull off the replacement board? Maybe. He got six for a non-binding resolution (requested by his law department) calling for the board to slow down its court fight over G-20 documents.
Here were the six: Council President Darlene Harris, Ricky Burgess, Patrick Dowd, Daniel Lavelle, Theresa Kail-Smith and Natalia Rudiak. (Bruce Kraus, Bill Peduto and Doug Shields abstained.)
If the board is replaced, it could -- at its first meeting -- move to get rid of the CPRB's longtime director Beth Pittenger (left).