Friday, September 12, 2008

Shields: "The Time Has Come ... Get To The Truth"

Here's the text of Council President Doug Shields' letter to U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. His letter to PA Attorney General Tom Corbett contains an identical message.

September 12, 2008

Ms. Mary Beth Buchanan, Esq.
United States Attorney
7th and Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Dear Ms. Buchanan,

Pursuant to the August 27, 2008 resignation letter of former URA Executive Director Pat Ford and the subsequent decision of the URA board and the City of Pittsburgh to pay both Mr. Ford and his wife a settlement beyond the terms of their contracts, I ask that the Office of the United States Attorney look into to the significant allegations raised by Mr. Ford. City Controller Michael Lamb called the settlement “paying people to shut up about what’s going on in these organizations.”

The public release of Ford’s letter took the discussion of pay to play and no bid gift contracts to contributors out of the realm of rumor and into the arena of public discourse. Yesterday’s URA settlement exceeded the obligations of Ford’s contract, awarded more than six months of additional payment beyond what his letter of resignation requested, authorized an additional payout to his wife who was a city employee, and included a "non-disparagement" clause restricting further disclosure of any information regarding charges of “culture of deception and corruption.”

With serious allegations of illegal activity acknowledged in writing and nearly $100,000 taxpayer dollars being used in conjunction with what is effectively a gag order on the people raising the allegations, the time has come to put rumor and innuendo to rest and get to the truth. It has become imperative that a fulsome inquiry be conducted because it is only under oath that this matter can be definitively resolved.

I look to your office as the appropriate place to determine the truth. There is an immediate need for resolution because neither the city nor its taxpayers should be burdened with this uncertainty. The people of Pittsburgh deserve answers and I am hopeful that you will expeditiously pursue an avenue of official inquiry.


Douglas A. Shields
City Council President


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