City Council President Accused Of Diverting Paving Funds

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh city streets are plagued with potholes and the city says it need every dollar it can spare to fix them.

So it might make a lot of people angry to learn one city council member may be diverting money for paving into pet projects.

City Council President Darlene Harris denies it.

“These are projects that the community has wanted and they need and there other places in the budget which money could be found,” she said.

City budget records show that in the past three years, Harris has moved $660,000 in paving funds to various projects in her district, including $50,000 for the restoration of a Spring Hill spring – a one-time source of mineral water that gave the neighborhood its name but has long lain dormant.

Or how about $100,000 towards turning the old Troy Hill fire station into a fire museum?

But one project that really frustrates the administration is the fixing of an old pedestrian bridge. They say that Harris is diverting funds that could benefit thousands for the benefit of a few.

The project calls for taking the bridge down and building a new one at a cost of more than $1 million. Harris has already earmarked $200,000 in paving funds.

“Some of those projects, I would call them, like, gingerbread,” City Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski said.

Harris has earmarked more than $300,000 in paving funds for other projects and while the truth is that very little of the money has been spent, Kaczorowski says she’s tied up the money in the capital budget, hampering his ability to pave streets.

“If you have a house where your roof’s leaking, the hot water tank’s shot and your furnace is broken, you don’t build a gazebo in your backyard,” he said. “You’d take care of the roof, you take care of the furnace, you take care of your hot water tank.”

Andy Sheehan: “Why don’t you release that money so you pave the streets, which look like a lunar landscape all over the city?”

Darlene Harris: “Why wouldn’t we take other money such as some of the money that is used just to go on conferences, you know, or to belong to things, like $32,000 for the mayor?”

Harris says the administration should look at its own priorities, but when KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan asked her constituents whether they’d prefer their roads paved or have these projects, they balked.

“If it’s a matter of getting the roads paved or putting this in then, you know, yeah, maybe they should pave the roads first,” Chris Waraks, of Spring Hill, said.

And some on Troy Hill aren’t thrilled about the idea of a museum.

“I don’t know where this museum comes from,” Sandra Parker said. “And not many people are going to come to it. What for the first month or so?”

But Harris says the support for her project is there and that she’s being singled out by the administration for voting against the mayor’s plan to lease the parking garages to bail out the city’s pension plan.

“All I want to do is care for the communities that I work for,” Harris said. “I listen to what the communities have to say. I do not listen to what the administration says.”

City of Pittsburgh Finds $6M To Pave Streets
Council President Blasts KDKA Investigation
City Council President Harris Defends City Work Near Her Home

City Council President Darlene Harris
Pittsburgh Dept. Of Public Works

  • Frank curnayn

    I’m dumbfounded to believe that one Cit Councle member has the ability to do this.

    • Michele

      Perhaps the Question Andy should have asked the director of DPW, the Mayor’s Office and City Council is why there are no funds to repair or replace the Wilksboro Bridge?
      Where did the Money go?
      You say only a select ‘few” benefit from this footbridge bridge how untrue that is.
      You say the taxpayers’ money should be used for paving I say we in Brighton Height also pay taxes and there should have been money there all along to fix the bridge
      The bridge did not build itself. There has been a bridge connecting both parts of Wilksboro Ave since at least 1923, please go and read the article below:
      Around town: Walking to work, the long and winding way
      Tuesday, February 05, 2008
      By Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
      So thank you to Darlene Harris for trying to correct a wrong done to our community for wanting to set aside money to replace this Bridge a Piece of OUR Neighborhoods History. If the city had been doing its job all along there would have been money to repair the bridge all along it is like any other roadway or bridge in the city.
      I have no-one to blame but myself for the closure of the footbridge (that is what the folks around here call it) in July of 2007.
      I raised concerns of its state of disrepair in Feb 2007 at a Brighton Heights Citizen meeting we were discussing the House tour for that year and they were Lying out the path folks would be taking in our neighborhood and I asked who besides me has been across that old footbridge lately let alone take 25-30 people across it at one time. I was used to the clinging and clanging of the bridge and the horrible shape of it but outsiders might not be. The city did some very lax fixing of the bridge for the tour, at least not to scare anyone for their safety but the city did close the bridge July of 2007 stating the City could not afford to replace or repair the bridge. Once again WHY NOT? Stating something to the effect the lead paint was the real costly issue but not so much of an issue to let it rot and get into the water ways.
      I grew up 1 block away from that dear old bridge when my parents moved to our neighborhood in 1969 at that time the Wilksboro Bridge was wooden and I remember in the early 70’s when the bridge was replaced with the current structure of steel. I also remember small cars (VW’s) and motorcycles going across it and the city finally made it into a pedestrian only bridge sometime late 1970’s early 80’s since it was never intended for vehicles but folks didn’t seem to care it was a short cut.
      After my husband retired from the military in 2004 we decided to move back home in 2005 right up the road from my family and besides having family around I also knew I had the footbridge it connects one part of our community to another, giving us all options when walking over it and getting to California Ave. Gong left to walk over to our neighbors in Bellevue or perhaps walking to the local grocery store or just walking around the neighborhood it allows our neighborhood to flow with the bridge being there and now it no longer flows. I, like many other residents can’t enjoy the walk across the bridge to stand on it look over it and just enjoy it. It is a little slice of heaven in our city just to stand in the middle of that bridge and listen to nothing you don’t hear the traffic you just have the sounds and perhaps if you are lucky the sights of nature. I unlike a lot of my neighbors don’t have the luxury to get in a car and drive to various places I must walk to get too many of the places I go. I am visually impaired so that bridge gives me more freedom to go.

    • Scott Mervis' Barber

      No, Frank. You’re just dumb. Cit Councle?

  • southsider

    I think councilmen Bruce Kraus was fighting to get streets paved in his district. I bet this drives him mad.

    • Butt Plug

      That and the fact that his butt plug is too tight

  • joe

    they are all full of it!

  • critter

    its called democrat rule. quit voting for these nitwits

    • terik Ororke

      That is the right idea…you get what you vote for!

  • redrock100

    Its Bush”s fault


    Frank you would be surprised, years ago I noticed that Mr. Zappalla’s signiture was on a lot of papers concerning the Crawford Village rent fraud scheme in McKeesport PA so I called his secretary Asia and she said that I wasn’t allowed to talk to him. I said well why is he signing all of these papers from Mayor Brewster accusing these people of rent fraud but not answering questions on it? She said I am sorry you are not allowed to talk to him, the weird part is George Matta charged some of the residents $100.00 for DNA testing which has nothing to do with rent fraud. In my opinion that’s strange.

  • Are there any leaders in this City of Pittsburgh?

    Darlene Harris lacks charisma, intelligence, experience, communication skills, beauty, negotiation skills, public speaking skills, business connections, nonprofit connections, friends, and most other qualities you’d want in your representative. So what does it tell us about the rest of Pittsburgh City Council that they elected her their president? Pittsburghers would be wise to wipe the slate clean with their council and start anew.

    • sammyjo

      What does beauty have to do with it?

  • Slinky

    Can somebody tell us what that bridge connects?

    • Tu Madre

      That’s easy. It connects a bridge contractor to $1million. The contractor then connects Darlene Harris with a kickback. What’s the going rate about 5%. Cash money!

    • Jim Rowdy Roddey Pipe Her

      Darlene is going to lose her re-election bid so she is hoping to land a job with the Port Authority and will use her Boondoggle Bridge as her resume.

    • Sir Galahad

      It’s the bridge of death from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

      “Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.”

      What is your favorite color?

      Blue. NO. Yel Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

  • cj

    Isn’t this the woman that did something on her street, while the rest of the city was suffering, it think it was during the snowstorm. Or maybe paving. Something. Anyway, seems she really is in it for herself, not her constituents or the city. Once is a misunderstanding, this is a pattern of behaviour. Just hope you live on her street. Bet it’s paved.

  • Constituent

    I’d be willing to let Darlene use paving funds to buy herself a better wig.

  • Joe Kerrigan

    I cant believe Andy Sheehan wouldnt give Councilwoman Harris a chance to set down her groceries before pitching her some softballs.

  • Bob Wright

    She’s an ugly, crooked, Pig……seems like a perfect choice to represent you folks…..

  • Just saying

    In my opinion it’s not what you know it’s who you know. I also asked questions about discrepensies and snafu’s in the crawford village paperwork but Mayor Brewster never got back to me on it, seven months later I saw all of those people being arrested for rent fraud which should not have happened because their work history and move in dates had been suppressed, fudged or switched.
    I am shocked that Pittsburgh would take cases from McKeesport without looking at all of the fine print to see if those residents were actually guilty of rent fraud.
    Nothing is going to happen to Darlene Harris because they all stick together.

  • question in the back of my mind

    Just Saying I called the rent office several times about that nonsense too and was told that Diane Raible would be on vacation for six months and I said ‘no poor person goes on vacation for six months’ and the person hung up on me, so on a hunch I went to the Crawford Village rent office and Ms. Raible walked out of her office in a black and white polka dot dress and still refused to talk but instead told me to call Donald Patterson in Harrisburg about why the tenants who paid cash were not given proper rent receipts. Mr. Patterson was real nice about it an referred me to Agent Folley in Pittsburgh who’s only question was how did you get my number? To my knowledge his boss agent Feebles was promoted overnight to New York City and Mr. Zapalla was left holding the bag in Pittsburgh And I also agree that nothing will be done to Ms. Harris. just my opinion.

  • Saside peep

    southsider says:
    May 5, 2011 at 9:51 PM
    I think councilmen Bruce Kraus was fighting to get streets paved in his district. I bet this drives him mad.


    The only thing that goo guzzler Kraus does is make life tough for the bars. Get him and his agenda out!

  • 1-2-3

    She paved her own street last year and built a retaining wall on the city’s dime by her residence or her mothers’s if I remember correctly. I’ts time for her to go. Keep voting Democrate, this is what you elect, a bunch of self serving dopes. Is there a honest person left in city government ?

  • MsCynic

    I’m appalled, but not remotely shocked by this. This city is stumbling on the edge of real failure, dump the democrats and quit voting the party line (regardless of WHICH PARTY) and put some responsible people in there!! I’m one who is seriously considering moving OUTSIDE of the city!! It’s politics are a joke!

  • Mathew H.

    Just Saying I walked in on agent Foley having private communication with one of the defendants lawyers from the Crawford Village case and also over heard Det. Washowitz ask this same lawyer out to a second round of golf in the spring, so obviously this lawyer had no intentions of helping that young man.
    I also called Renee Feebles with my questions and concerns and he told me that agent Carey Rubenstein had taken his position in Pittsburgh, he had no intentions of questioning agent Foley about anything and did not want to get involved. A lot of people over heard federal agent Linda tell some people that this whole charade was for Mayor Brewsters benefit but not one person stood up for the Crawford Village residents, I did what I could but who likes phone tag? I also agree with 1-2-3.

  • Michele

    If DPW is so concerned about asphalting the roads why are they digging up the asphalt roads in the park on the Northside to relay it?

  • its kind of tricky

    I agree with you Mathew about the phone tag, if Mayor Brewster sits on the board of commissioners of the Crawford Village rent office then why did all of that rent fraud nonsense happen year after year on his dime? There were strong rumors about the rent office staff not giving out receipts if someone paid in cash and if that is true the rent fraud came from within the rent office not from the residents. just my opinion too.

  • Ugly pig

    Darlene Harris is an ugly pig

  • AllGrins

    I don’t live in the city or even in the county but I do enjoy the entertainment value of the boy mayor and the city circus (oops! I mean council). You folks get what you deserve by way of the ballot! Keep it up, the surrounding areas need the laughs!

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