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STOP THE FRACKING OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY REGIONAL PARKS.
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3-YEAR HOLD LEGISLATION!
Call or write to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald - leave the message. Stop Fracking Our Parks! Now.
436 Grant Street Room 101
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: (412) 350-6500 Fax: (412) 350-6512
By the way, if you would like to host a screening Gasland Part II at your home, church, union hall, hit me up on my Facebook page. I will be happy to bring the film and host a Q & A afterward.
"Morning host Marty Griffin, for example, touted the broadcast as a celebration of "hope and opportunity.”
Yes indeed, we HOPE we don’t get sick, lose our water and get gagged by Range Resources before we have the OPPORTUNITY to sell our homes before they become unlivable and worthless.
I can assure you that no one in the administration will comment, including Chief Harper, because they were told not to by the Mayor. I suppose he hopes to ride out yet another SNAFU by pointing fingers at others while saying nothing himself. It is getting a little old don’t you think.
Dear Public Source & City Paper:
Thank you for this story. It is very well done. The Mayor's office has much to answer for in this sad tale.
Ms. Doven, the Mayor's spokesperson, (does the Mayor ever publicly comment on anything?) seems to be attempting to create a new narrative on the matter, to put it kindly.
Yes, I was a "politician" and an elected Member of City Council at this time and I did introduce legislation to license tow companies to prevent the abuse of the public. It is in my job description. I did my due diligence and I got it right. If it is "political" to address abuses of the public by tow operators then, so be it.
When Jim Parsons, of WTAE TV, did a story on the abuses occurring in the private enforcement tow business, he interviewed me and asked: "What are you going to do about this?" I said I would write legislation to end it. I did. It has yet to be enforced.
In the Parsons story, I solicited the public to write to me of any abuses they may have encountered. I received over 80 responses. The vast majority of them concerned three tow operators, all Pittsburgh based. The conduct of these actors was well known to police.
I had a two hour meeting with Chief Harper to discuss the problem and the details of the legislative drafts. He was supportive of the legislation in his testimony at Council and, in private meetings with me.
Over a long career as a police officer, he is well acquainted with the bad tow operators and has a long history of concern as to their conduct and abuse of the public. He is very well aware of the scam aspects the bad apples employ in the industry.
Former police Chief, Dom Costa, then and now a State Rep., also testified before Council as to the need for this licensure legislation. He and Rep. DeLuca (Penn Hills) were working on related legislation in the State Assembly at that time. Both appeared personally before the Council and strongly supported the bill during our deliberations.
I retained competent legal counsel, Shannon Barkley, (a former assistant city solicitor) to assist me with drafting the legislation.
I consulted at length with Erie Insurance Co. and the West Penn AAA. They too had concerns related to tow truck/body shop abuses at accidents scenes and subsequent inflated repair bills and charges they were liable for via their insured's claims.
I met with Chuck Half, Manager of the Mayor's Office of Management, Accountability, Performance and Strategy on number of occasions on the matter.
I met with Wayne Bossinger of the Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI) which was responsible for developing the administration of the license program (i.e., forms, business license, registration, etc.).
I consulted with the City Solicitor's office (and, they too endorsed the legislation in its final form. See Asst. City Solicitor Zollet's comments in this story affirming that fact.
I also met with tow operators; even those who were the most egregious abusers of the public.
I took my time. Over a period of months I performed a significant amount of research. I consulted with a wide range of constituencies impacted by it. The legislation was not rushed. There was consensus among all parties that it was good legislation and addressed a clear need.
It was passed unanimously with additional amendments to address concerns that were brought forward in Council's Standing Committee. I worked with all Council Members who had any questions or concerns they brought to me. I heard not one note of concern from Mayor Ravenstahl or his representatives during this process.
After enactment, I also met with Chuck Half to discuss implementation. He requested more time for the administration to set up the license process. I immediately granted his request and introduced legislation amending the Ordinance to have the effective date moved from the Fall of 2010 to Jan.1, 2011. Not once did Mr. Half, Public Safety Director Huss, or the Mayor indicate there were any structural flaws in the Ordinance's construction.
In December of 2010, Mr. Half again came to me and, on behalf of Mayor Ravenstahl, who requested yet another extension of the effective date for implementation.
I, again, readily agreed and told him if he needed more time than that, now was the time to say so. He insisted that three more months was more than enough. I made it clear to him that March 30th would be the date and that there would be no further consideration of more extensions. Eleven months was more than enough time to get this program off the ground. It is the law.
In the meantime, Mr. Bossinger of BBI had showed to me the forms he had developed for this program, the actual license/photo ID to be worn by the tow operator and other administrative forms. BBI was clearly prepared to implement the tow business license program.
Mr. Half came to me in March and informed me, in a meeting in my office, that the program was not to go forward. He stated to me that, "The Mayor and the Director of Public Safety did not see this as a priority." I asked, "Why?" He gave me no answer. He simply reiterated his statement.
He was clearly given his orders and he delivered the message to me. I asked him, "How is it a duly enacted Ordinance is not a priority? How is it that the Mayor picks and choses such things? It is the law. It is the Mayor's duty of office to implement it. The Mayor signed it. Mr. Half had no response.
Well, suffice to say, pushing a rope has it's limitations. I had done all that I could to cooperate with all concerned, particularly the Mayor's office.
This iteration of fact runs counter to the tale Ms. Doven would have you now believe. Notably, not one person in the Mayor's office can point to any element of the law that is deficient.
Now, Ms. Doven tries to reinvent this sad tale by misrepresenting facts, and, casting aspersions on me. She has done that plenty of times in the past with others when this administration finds itself in a bad light. Her favorite chestnut is: it's all political." Really?
To put it plainly, the Mayor's failure to implement the tow licensure ordinance is at best, nonfeasance or misfeasance of his office - at worst it is malfeasance.
Epilogue: One of the city's tow company's, Halbleib (pronounced Haw-Blah) sued Pittsburgh for breech of an agreement it entered into with the Public Safety Director, Mike Huss, (husband of Ms. Doven), with the Mayor's ascent.
How is it that Mr. Huss has the ability to enter into any agreement without ratification of that agreement by the Council? Without Council's approval, there is no legally binding agreement between the city and another party.
How is it that Pubic Safety Director Huss and Mayor Ravenstahl steadfastly refuse to implement a tow license law and then subsequently enter into this contractual arrangement with Mr. Hableib?
Halbleib Towing was one of the three operators that drew the lion’s share of complaints from the public.
When this story (see the link below) ran in Oct. 2012, I know of no member of Council who was aware of this arrangement between the Mayor's office and Mr. Halbleib.
At an accident scene in the public right of way, the police are required by the city contract to have the city enforcement tow contractor, McGann & Chester, to perform all police (not private) enforcement tows if the victim is unable to summon a tow truck of their choosing.
That is yet another issue of nonfeasance of office by Mayor Ravenstahl in not enforcing the provisions of that contract.
This story raises serious questions as to what is going on here. I hope that you continue to pursue the matters at issue here and brought to light in your report.
Former Member of Pittsburgh City Council (2004-2011)
here is the Rich Lord “The Network" story. Like Wall Street bankers, nothing was ever done to stop it. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/…
The first I had ever heard of Mr. Fitzgerald is when the P-G ran the “Slime Campaign” story (I think the day before the Coyne/Cohen congressional primary election). As I read the story, I learned he was Dan Cohen’s campaign treasurer for six years. I thought “I don’t know who this Fitzgerald fellow is but remind me never to get into a foxhole with him.” I had to laugh upon reading Congressman Doyle’s opposite “foxhole” assessment.
I, too, supported Mr. Fitzgerald for County Executive after he solicited my support. I asked him to start to clean up the corruption in the “pay-to-play” system in government here. He said he would. My concern was that his opponent’s campaign was populated with the “Network” types (see the Rich Lord’s 2010 “The Network" series in the P-G).
At the time, I did not know about his money demand letter to Katy Klaber, President of the industry front group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition. In that now infamous letter, he falsely stated (lied) that my wife, Briget, was marshaling support for his opponent from anti-drilling activists. I am sure katy laughed about that one as she knew it wasn’t true and her people were behind his opponent.
The letter was sent in January, after he asked me for my endorsement. It was leaked 3 weeks before the election. Katy Klaber says she does’t know anything about how it got out there. Yeah, right. (See: http://www.politicspa.com/breaking-marcell…)
My wife was terribly upset and called Rich twice and left messages that she wanted to speak to him about this falsehood. No call back. She ran into him on election day at a polling place and told him that they needed to talk. He said they would and he turned on his heel and left. He has yet to discuss his “misstatement” with my wife.
County Council Member Danko states that, "I think Rich likes loyalty.” Well, so do I. But loyalty is a two-way street. Rich sees it as a one-way street. Just ask Dan Cohen, Cyril Wecht, Briget and I, and others who have been “mislead" by him or, as Dr. Wecht says, “bullshitting us all along.”
Now, Rich Fitzgerald is “bullshitting" us about how safe shale gas extraction is in his quest for drilling campaign money from the energy sector. I challenge to him to stand before the public and debate the “safety” of shale gas drilling at the airport or anywhere else.
Were this yet another Gov. Tom Corbett wrong-headed scheme, local Democrat officials and party types would be howling. On this issue of drilling the airport they remain silent and fearful of retribution from Mr. Fitzgerald.
Despots are feared, statesmen are followed. Suffice to say I do not view Mr. Fitzgerald as a statesman.
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