Council President Blasts KDKA Investigation

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — While the city of Pittsburgh was making budget cuts, public works crews were busy near the home of City Council President Darlene Harris.

Harris admits she pushed for the work, but at the same time denies she is benefiting from any kind of special treatment.

Harris used her microphone at council chambers to blast KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan’s report as sensationalized journalism and she maintained that work done around her home was done not for herself, but for the neighborhood.

A defiant Harris reacted strongly to the story that questioned why city workers had done so much work in the immediate vicinity of her Spring Hill home – work which the investigation found totaled $108,406 in just the past three years.

“It’s just awful funny how when you service your neighborhood and service all neighborhoods for 35 years, that they come up and say, ‘Well, you did this,’” Harris said.

The work included the paving of Buente Street in front of Harris’ house, List Street behind her house and Brahm Street leading up to her house at a cost of $86,088.

Harris also co-owns a house on List Street with her mother and in November of 2007 the city built a retaining wall just above it. The job involved 35 yards of concrete, 50 tons of stone and 10 steel beams at a cost of $22,043.

What’s more – at Harris’ request in February of 2008 – the city condemned the house next door to hers. And even though it takes an average of four years for the city to tear down a condemned structure, the city demolished it and graded the lot just eight months later at a cost of $8,275.

Harris says she requested the work for the good of the neighborhood and took a jab at KDKA’s Andy Sheehan.

“I don’t work on my own property with city merchandise or city vehicles or city equipment and I don’t fix my property though that,” says Harris, “and I just wanted to say for Andy Sheehan, he also had his street paved two years ago. He didn’t put that on television.”

Of her colleagues on council, only Bill Peduto offered this criticism of Harris, but blamed the work on a system which rewards political friends of the mayor’s administration.

“Of course it’s political,” he said. “This administration uses asphalt for political purposes. It uses public projects as ways to penalize council members or to support them.”

Harris says since opposing the mayor’s parking lease plan, she is now on the outs with the administration and said that’s why this story has come to light.

“I am just being punished like the rest of council that don’t go along with the program,” she said. “People voted me into this office to speak for the people and that’s what I intend on doing.”

Harris is an elected official and her constituents will have to decide whether she has done anything wrong.

For the record, Andy Sheehan does live in the city and his street did get paved two years ago, but he made no request to anyone at the city to have the work done.

  • Scott

    This lady gets special treatment wherever she goes. When she was with the Board Of Ed. She had her own private driver. Only one problem he was on duty as an officer getting overtime. Get rid of this mooch. She is lousy.

  • Dan

    This all revolves around the mayor. He is a real idiot who only cares about himself, and not the city or the people. Hopefully mayor Stupidstal will get voted out like Onarato did !

  • David

    this is funny because on my street in the city of Pittsburgh, on Freeland St. there are a total of 2 abandoned houses which have been empty for most of this century, 1 house that was condemed and still standing, this house itself is about to fall over. and one house that should be condemed becasue it is falling apart. My neighborhood looks digusting. we have complained numerous times about everything and does anything happen for us TAX PAYING CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH…………..NO, NO, we get the short end of the stick everytime and i am sick of it.

  • mike

    If the city is hurting for money , and we know they are, why does city council go untouched ? They should be downsized also ! Why do we need that many council members anyway ? I think they waste more money than they save with all thier studies and every time this city loses a law suit because of thier dumb decisions

  • redrock100


  • justin

    Dan is right this is RAVENSTALS fault plain and simple, hes the ringleader!

  • Mr. Soho

    Just another ” Privledged Politician ” with the I didn’t do anything attitude, Her personal interests superceed any of the Taxpayers, she needs Flushed out of Ofiice along with the Boy King Luke.

  • justin

    Hey MIke, is the city really loosing money? I just heard that light up night is going to be 2 days now. Why would they do that if they are broke. Thats like buying a new car when you make $7.00 a hour

  • Hawk

    Ms Harris is another worthless city employee under Ravenstahl’s wing along with her friend Kevin Quigley from Public Works, who also had his streets paved of which he placed the order himself to have done. He was one of Ravenstahl’s aides on council and now an Assistant Director in Public Works, the man’s lucky he can read !. Both are a piece of work – the City’s finest !

  • Bo

    I live on Taft Avenue in the City of Pittsburgh (Beltzhoover). I want to applaud the City for tearing down abandoned houses in my neighborhood. Sylvania Avenue is very close to my street. Since the summer, 10 or more houses have been torn down. One house caught fire one week and was torn down the next week. I’d rather see empty lots instead of having potential crack houses in these abandoned places. Now if we could only get the quick response with snow removal…….. We dug ourselves out earlier this year. Let’s hope this winter season goes more smoothly!!

  • AJ

    Why do we have 9 concil members in the first place? The population has decreased in half in the last thirty years. So why do we continue to budget 9 members and there staff. Every other department of the city has been cut. Public works, Police, Fire, Ems, and many other deparments. All of which have made due and maintained the same quailty of service. Council has stayed the same size and cant budget anything other than personal pet projects for political allies or friends. Our Tax paying population has decreased with council having no solution on how to fix it except to cut more of the working people of Pgh or to create some other tax to fund more failing project. Maybe council should be faced with the same cuts we all have faced over the years. Maybe that will get them motivated to make some real choices for the benefit of the people of Pgh. Rather than continuing to patronize the political machine that has run rampant for way to many years.

  • Pat

    The wall Andy spoke of in his report has nothing to do with Mrs. Harris or her mother. I along with 3 other homes are on that road where the repair was done. The road began to sink and the old railroad ties holding the wall fell apart. There are 4 families here and 7 cars. There is no other way in or out of our homes. We ask the city to look at it and see what could be done. We have all lived here for over 35yrs.
    I sent email to the mayors office when it was done thanking everyone that helped us. Not Andy or any other reporter even came back the road to speak to us. KDKA should at least get their reports verified before blaming someone for something they did not do. Mrs. Harris did help get the citys attention but that was all she did. I thank her for that, I believe thats her job.
    Schnittgen st.

  • redrock100

    just like the republicans. thats how they do.

  • dan

    PAT get a clue, if you didn’t live on the same street as Harris you would have no wall and the city would have told you to go pound salt like they did for the people in east carnegie that got flooded a few years back or the tons of people whos houses were flooded this summer because the city has not maintained the drainage system, and they were clogged. If you believe the city cares about you, or would have done the same thing if Harris didn’t live on your street you are truely a idiot!

  • Dan

    OH, by the way for Harris this is KARMA coming to get you for all the deals you make with that little snake LUKE….I am glad to see you are standing up for your people now and see what a evil person the mayor is. Run with it! I’m sure you have some dirt on him…….I know a PITT CHEERLEADER who does !

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