Thursday, March 29, 2007

McNeilly Case: How Regan Muscled Chief Costa

The process that Former Police Chief Costa described in an interview about how Denny Regan forced his hand to promote Officer Rende gives you a close look at greasy Pittsburgh politics in action. The section of the interview I post below captures what Judge Ambrose means in her ruling.

From Judge Ambrose's preliminary injunction ruling, a poignant quote excerpted by The Burgh Report:

"Furthermore, let me make something very clear. Contrary to how some may perceive this case, this case is not about corruption in the Police Department. It is about allegations of wrongdoing and improper and undue influence by officials within the Mayor's office in Police Department matters."
Former Police Chief Dominic Costa interview conducted by Office of Municipal Investigations Adminstrator Kathy Kraus on behalf of Acting City Solicitor George Specter:

Q: Do you believe – or do you – were you ordered to make Frank Rende a detective or did he ask you?

A: No, it was an order. He said – as a matter of fact, I said that -- he knew that my feelings that Frank wasn’t working, and I told him that about stats and things like that before, and Frank still wasn’t working, and then when he was there, it was definitely, when I said, well, I can look at it and he said, I want him moved, and I want them moved --- I want them graded detectives. And he says and I want it done now.

Q: So you didn’t feel you had any option not to do it?

A: Oh, no, it was an order. It was no question, it was an order to do it. Because if it wasn’t – had it been a request, I wouldn’t have done it because two of the officers’ stats weren’t up to – what I believe was defective quality.

Q: Did – did Dennis Regan ever ask you to change any other officer’s assignments?

A: No.

Earlier in the interview there is more detail on how Regan forced Costa's hand, the disciplinary action report on Rende and how he wasn't 'counseled' within 120 days, and earlier complaints from Rende (pushed by Regan) that he wasn't getting enough off-duty assignments. Well, that's because the assignments are akin to a taxpayer subsidized under-the-table racket. And it has been proven untrue that Rende didn't get a fair share of assignments. It's also strange that Rende needs to be explicitly counseled about why calling off of work sick and working side jobs isn't OK. Then again, if it isn't documented it didn't happen, right? Ugh, bureaucracy. You can also see how little Regan was aware of police policy and 'graded' detective status. In any case, the interview (linked above) is not too long and worth a read.

And Doug Shields is going to cover-up Mayor Ravenstahl's error and prevent a council discussion on this issue? For real?


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