Friday, October 5, 2007

Chief Harper: Ravenstahl Homeland Security SUV Use Okay Because Everybody Else Was Using It Too

Mary Beth Buchanan Should Be Happy with 99% Compliance

During an October 3rd interview, Chief Nate Harper insisted that no rules were broken when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl used a Homeland Security SUV to take he, his wife and friends to a Toby Keith concert.

“These vehicles were purchased, yes, though Homeland Security, but they aren’t specifically always 100% used for homeland security. For example, they are assigned to the Intel Unit, they never have been reassigned to any other entity within the city, therefore, when the Intel detectives do go out for other investigations they utilized those same vehicles. They don’t switch vehicles and say ‘Oh, wait I can’t use this vehicle because its not pertaining to Homeland Security.’ Those vehicles have always been assigned there and if……For example, we have a homicide, and I have no vehicles for those homicide detectives to get out to the scene in it, those detectives will utilize those vehicles that are available.”

Thank you Chief Harper for clarifying appropriate alternative usage of the GMC Yukon in instances such as homicide investigations. But what about Toby Keith concerts for the mayor? Does the grant insist that the Homeland Security SUV be used 100% of the time for Homeland Security purposes? Does it allow usage for other “official business”? If so, might that be a Toby Keith concert? The Post Gazette tried to ascertain the answer to those very questions but the mayor’s office would not release the grant documents, saying they were “for official use only”. Much like the Yukon, no doubt.

The young mayor admits he’s used the Yukon for personal trips such as going to see his mom and dad or going to bars with his wife and friends. But that was before he realized the vehicle was purchased with federal funds. As soon as he was made aware of its Homeland Security status, the mayor quit using the vehicle.

And when was that? “It was brought to my attention within the time frame it was brought to my attention” the mayor responded.

Asked to clarify that answer the mayor said, “The word got to me whenever the word got to me.”

Nonetheless, Chief Harper seems to think no wrongdoing occurred in the first place because the vehicle has been regularly used for other purposes anyway.

“These vehicles are purchased, yes, through Homeland Security, but they aren’t specifically 100 percent always used for Homeland Security,” Harper said. He went on to say that he’s looked at the details of the grant and insists “other” usage of the Yukon is allowable.

So will the mayor continue to bar-hop and attend concerts in the big, bad Intel vehicle? Chief Harper has apparently mastered the art of the non-answer answer:

“It will be used 99% of the time ….. Its permanently assigned to the Intel unit. That is part of the contract, contractual agreement with Homeland Security. It never was intended to be reassigned to any other entity within the Pittsburgh Police Bureau. Therefore as I stated, if for example we’re in an emergency situation where we need to get to a scene or we need to deploy some officers, and its not a Homeland Security event, are you saying that then I should let those vehicles sit, not utilize them, indeed officers stand by to wait for a vehicle to come back in? We aren’t going to do that. We’re going to respond to emergencies as needed with any vehicle that we have within the Pittsburgh Police Bureau.”

Well, glad that’s cleared up. Glad and reassured to know the next time the mayor has a Toby Keith concert emergency, or an acute need to belt down the brewskis with staff and friends…..there will be a brand new, fully loaded, Homeland Security Intel vehicle to whisk him right to the scene.

The Pist-Gazette is certain Mary Beth Buchanan will see this in just the same way.


Mark Rauterkus said...

I worry about Luke using the city cars to go to campaign events.

I worry that the the Police Chief is being used as a campaign pawn too.

Mike Carpathios said...

A year ago, it was exciting to have Mayor Luke as the youngest major mayor in the country. It's not like he hasn't done anything for the city, but he has shown us what a spoiled incorrigible numskull he is and that he just can't learn from one transgression to another. I've had it. I'm a far left liberal in the city of Pittsburgh, but I don't know why everyone takes it for granted that he will be automatically elected. (He has yet to be elected even once.) If he single-handedly won the summer Olympics for the city, I might be able to look the other way. But he really has done very little that is productive other than show up on TV when there is a water main break or fire in the city (or to explain his juvenile behavior). Anything good that has happened to Pittsburgh in the past year was already set forth by prior administrations.

In the 1990's, everyone thought it was unthinkable for a Republican to become the first Chief Executive of Allegheny County. Mr. Roddey surprised a lot of people. While it is unlikely that Mr. DeSantis could win the mayorship, it's possible. And if Mr. Peduto could still somehow get on the ballot as an Independent, I think he would stand a very good chance against Mr. Toga Party Frat boy Luke.

Char said...

Who knows. Maybe we are in for another departmental purge followed by another national search for replacements.

C.Sciulli said...

In the greater scheme of local things you can be pissed about, this incident does not even rank close to other issues plaguing "America's Most Livable City."

Our public transit system is a mess, our traffic patterns are poorly designed, but most importantly Pittsburgh has some of the lowest paid wage rates in the US, but one of the highest tax burdens in the entire country.

This article in the Trib has it right when it claims Pittsburgh may be the Most Leavable city:

While I can understand your angst in principle, I just feel there are so many other, more important issues to be pissed about. The media should be riling the public up about the things I mentioned above, instead of contining to focus on this issue. It seems like petty politics.

On the brightside at least our attention has been taken away from the Steelers, if only for a moment.

Char said...


You may be surprised to know I agree with you 100%. Ravenstahl and his embarrassing antics just get to my emotional hot button. Each time I sit down to address something adult and real .... the Kid does something else and I just can't seem to help myself. Got to muster some adult restraint myself.

An important aside, however, is that the problems that make us the Most Leavable are NEVER going to be addressed by the pompous Frat Boy who calls himself mayor.