Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Inside the McNeilly Lawsuit

The complete
McNeilly lawsuit
against the city is
available online

Sometimes, googling for background on news stories can turn up interesting nuggets.

The latest example, which I'm linking here: the complete text of the Whistleblower Law/Free Speech lawsuit by former Commander (now Lieutenant ) Catherine McNeilly.

(We'll look at some excerpts in a second.)

The suit targets the City of Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, and Police Chief Nate Harper. The complaint alleges that she was the target of retaliation for speaking out against the nomination of Dennis Regan for public safety director. These sorts of documents are routinely available online for a fee via the PACER system for eight cents per page; generally speaking, it seems that only attorneys and reporters check them out.

To my surprise, a high-ranking hit on my Google search for "McNeilly Pittsburgh" produced the ACLU's news release on the lawsuit ...

and a copy of the complaint itself, free for the public to see.

One passage in the McNeilly lawsuit quoted below refers to an alleged threat to Commander Rashall Brackney by Dennis Regan.

"14. At the time such nomination was made, McNeilly also had information, upon which she reasonably relied, that Regan had allegedly threatened a fellow Commander with adverse personnel action if such Commander enforced criminal statutes against a purported political supporter of the Administration. "

I've gotten e-mails asking me what had become of the investigation of that allegation. This reference raises the possibility that more information about it could come to light in federal court.

Pages 4-to-7 lay out McNeilly’s timeline of the events.

Her attorneys assert that she notified the Mayor of her concerns first, then
e-mailed City Council three days later. The lawyers write that she did not provide the news media with the e-mails or attachments with confidential material. They do acknowledge that she sent...

"copies to ... her husband (the Pittsburgh Chief of Police until January 3, 2006) and her brother (the Police Bureau's current Chaplain). "


Friday, December 22, 2006

Secret Mario/Jim Balsillie Video Revealed?

Not quite, but you'll want to see this.

I stumbled upon this video while researching the Penguins story.
It's a sketch by the Royal Canadian Air Farce that I discovered while googling Jim Balsillie.

As some of you may have seen, this has been my week for unusual BlackBerry connections to the Penguins/arena/slots story.

Shortly after twelve on Thursday, my BlackBerry buzzed with the arrival of Mario Lemieux's news release revealing that the Pens would "begin discussions with other cities that may be interested in NHL teams". I quickly phoned in a report for our noon news. In the middle of answering an on-air question from Sally Wiggin, I happened to spot Mayor Ravenstahl walking up the steps of the City County Building. I cut short my live report and my photographer T.J. and I dodged lunch hour traffic on Grant Street to get the mayor's response.

To my–and the mayor's–surprise, the word had been e-mailed to the media with no advance warning to local government officials. I found myself in the position of reading Mario's statement to the mayor from the screen of my BlackBerry as we stood outside next to the city's Christmas tree.

(Credit to Karlo's Blogovich for the YouTube link.)


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What A Difference A Week Makes

“I’ll help you pack your bags...” --Attributed to Gary Bettman

Contrast this portrayal of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s evolving commitment to keeping the Penguins in Pittsburgh...

...with this statement issued by Commissioner Bettman after the Gaming Control Board’s rejection of Isle of Capri.

Click Here

The former is from a report by Canada’s National Post. The latter is now displayed on the Penguin’s website.

Divining the intentions of the National Hockey League will be one of the challenges facing government officials as they attempt to lock in Plan B.

(Note: Click here for the iWeb version of this post. Please e-mail me if you have any thoughts about the differences in the two sites. Thanks.)


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why “The Busman’s Holiday”?

Wikipedia: “Busman's holiday is an informal term for a vacation during which one engages in an activity that is similar to one's usual work.”

hy would someone who writes and reports for a living be spending time during his vacation writing and reporting?

Chalk it up to curiosity about this form of self-publishing as a means of personal expression. I’ve long enjoyed using my Mac computers, both at home and while working in the field. I pack my own PowerBook in my briefcase and use it daily. Now I’ve decided to tap into the potential of computer applications like iWeb in Apple’s ‘iLife’ suite to learn more about what they—and I—can do.

This may involve rummaging through my boxes of old audio cassettes to bring new life to a bit of local history. Check out my podcasts page for a sample. The blog can also provide a place to share more expansive quotes or observations from stories I'll be covering. Then again, time and experience may lead this project in directions entirely unrelated to my work in journalism. (Norwegian Forest Cat photo pages, anyone? )

I have great respect for those bloggers who are so prolific and creative that they’re posting through the day with charm and passion. I imagine that this site will be more of an open workshop than a daily ‘must read’ that's in their league. You’re welcome to stop by now and then and see what I’m up to. I'll experiment with providing moderated reader comments as the blog develops.

Thanks for stopping by.


Ravenstahlization Redux

The new face of city government is visible on Pittsburgh’s official government website.

here's a new wave of blog posts this weekend about Mayor Ravenstahl making his mark on the city's website and billboards. (Paul Martino did a nice job advancing the story with word about the city spending $30,000 on mailers with the mayor's photo.)

Here's a link to the web video of my report back in November.

The Pittsburgh Channel's text version of my story includes links to other city's websites as well.

Look for the "Related Links" at the bottom of that page.


Podcast Notes

"Testing, Testing...”
Can you hear me now?

So far I've posted two podcasts, using Apple's GarageBand and iWeb.
The podcasts should work with any media player, though I imagine you'll get the best results with the latest version of QuickTime.


An Introduction

“Beginnings are always messy” –ABC News Correspondent Bill Blakemore, quoting John Galsworthy

I’ll be using this site as a place to experiment with blogging, podcasting, and other online projects. While I may draw on observations made in my work, this site is a personal hobby and not affiliated with my employer, WTAE Channel 4 Action News.

I'm currently dabbling in two versions:

One via Blogger at ....

...and one via Apple's .Mac at .

Both Blogger and .Mac have their strengths.

Please feel free to e-mail any feedback about your reactions to the features of each.