PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The report that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl spent more on overtime for his personal police detail in just two years than former Mayor Tom Murphy spent in 12 years brought criticism from City Council Finance Chair Bill Peduto.
“It’s completely wrong,” Peduto told KDKA’s Jon Delano at a taping of The Sunday Business Page. “That’s the overtime payment. It’s not even the salaries, the bonuses, and everything else the officers get.”
Peduto saw investigative reporter Marty Griffin’s report that Ravenstahl’s three full-time and one part-time police guards have been paid over $200,000 in overtime since 2009.
“Does the mayor have just unfettered discretion to spend whatever he wants in overtime for his police detail?” KDKA’s Delano asked Peduto.
“He certainly does not. There is a set budget that the Mayor’s Office has. However, these employees, these police officers aren’t coming out of the mayor’s budget. He’s taking them out of the public safety budget,” Peduto said.
The consequence of that, said Peduto, is short-changing public safety elsewhere in the city.
“If there are three-and-a-half officers that are dedicated to protect one person in the city of Pittsburgh, that means they’re not out in the neighborhoods where they could be,” Peduto said.
Like City Controller Michael Lamb, Peduto questioned why there was any overtime at all.
“How do you earn overtime?”
“When you think about, if each of them had an eight-hour shift…”
“That means he has 24-hour, round-the-clock protection, which no other mayor has had.”
But Peduto was unclear if City Council could stop it.
“It’s something that we will look at, but again as the mayor and his public safety director, they can allocate officers to where they believe they’re needed,” Peduto said. “And for some reason, they believe that three-and-a-half officers are needed for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.”
So far, the mayor has refused to explain why overtime is needed at all.
On Friday, his office said it also had no comment in response to Peduto’s remarks.
While overtime is a bit less this year than last, there is no indication that it has come to an end.