Friday, October 5, 2007

Delano Fills In Some Of The Blanks

KDKA’s John Delano spoke with Kevin Miller this afternoon, filling in some of the details regarding the Ravenstahl “Tailgate” saga. (Witty term coined by Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman.)

Delano says his various sources have reported to him that the GMC Yukon in question was one of four delivered to the Pittsburgh Police Department as part of a Homeland Security grant. From the moment the SUVs were delivered, Chief Harper said they would be great back-up vehicles for the mayor. Sgt Mona Wallace, who applied for the grant in the first place, immediately explained to Harper that the vehicles could not be used in that manner. She explained the vehicles were paid for with federal monies and therefore had specific use restrictions per grant guidelines.

Harper therefore knew of the usage restrictions from day one, but the black Yukon was nonetheless handed out to Mayor Ravenstahl on various occasions from day one. Those occasions were purportedly the US Open (when UPMC paid for the mayor’s $9000 entry fee), possibly the Mario Lemieux Golf Tournament (where Luke stalked Tiger Woods), the Toby Keith concert at the Post-Gazette Pavilion as well as others. Other occasions, oddly enough, where Chief of Staff Yarone Zober was a passenger in the Yukon. The same Yarone Zober who witnessed the Homeland Security grant in March 2006.

Sgt. Wallace sent many emails up the chain of command warning her superiors that the mayor’s repeated joyrides constituted misuse of grant funds. All her emails were ignored and the last straw for Sgt. Wallace came when the Yukon was returned from the Toby Keith shindig with BBQ stains and charcoal briquette remnants.

It was then Sgt Wallace broke the chain of command by emailing Public Safety Director Michael Huss who subsequently told Chief Harper to “take care of it.” Maybe Harper misunderstood what Huss meant by those words, or maybe not. In any event, Sgt Wallace was written up to be disciplined at that point.

Not sitting still at the prospect of being railroaded, Wallace hired an attorney and was within 24 hours of filing a suit, when lucky for Pittsburgh taxpayers, Director Huss reversed the disciplinary action.

So Chief Nate Harper was aware of the vehicle misuse. Yarone Zober was aware of the vehicle misuse. Maybe we have another round of departmental purgings and a national replacement search on the horizon.

No comments: