Police review board nominations puzzling to Pittsburgh council members

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Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris said her office was working Monday to find e-mails showing that her colleagues had ample opportunity to make nominations to the Citizen Police Review Board.

After Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced a shake-up of the seven-member board Friday, some council members said they didn't recall having any input on an issue affecting the controversial panel's future direction.

But Mrs. Harris and Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, chairwoman of council's public safety committee, reiterated Monday that all council members had the chance to put in names.

Mrs. Harris said council members received at least four e-mails on the issue from her, Ms. Kail-Smith and the city clerk's office. Ms. Kail-Smith said she stopped in her colleagues' offices to remind staff members of the need to fill board seats.

The nominations will be introduced in council today; no timetable for a confirmation vote has been announced. Nominees often are interviewed before a vote.

Meanwhile, the review board's current members will hold a regularly scheduled meeting at 6 tonight in the Hill District.

The mayor's office announced the proposed shake-up Friday as board officials were in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to renew their demand for police records that they want for a comprehensive study of police activity during the G-20 summit. The study has led to clashes with the police department and some council members, who say the board is going too far.

Elizabeth Pittinger, board executive director, said the proposed shuffling was intended to undermine the G-20 study. The mayor's office, noting the terms of all seven members had expired, said that wasn't the case.

Mr. Ravenstahl nominated three people of his choice to the board. In two of the three cases, he chose to renominate current board members to new terms.

The mayor also made four other nominations from among seven names forwarded by council members. He chose candidates suggested by Mrs. Harris, Ms. Kail-Smith and Councilman Ricky Burgess.

Councilmen Bruce Kraus, Bill Peduto and Doug Shields on Friday said they were taken aback by the shake-up and didn't recall having the opportunity to make nominations.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak on Monday said she recalled talk about the need to fill positions on the board but not an invitation to make a nomination.


Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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