Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the value of city property missing from the mayor's office and the cost to repair damaged fixtures and artifacts runs around $200,000, a price he does not believe taxpayers should have to bear.
"When they're items that are given to the city that are valued at thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars ... when there are items that are a hundred years old that have been damaged and will cost $30,000 or more to repair, then why should taxpayers be stuck with those bills?" he said. "It was damage to public property that needs to be paid for."
In a brief interview outside the mayor's office Wednesday, Mr. Peduto declined to go into much detail about the damage or what was missing from the mayor's office, including what would cost $30,000 to repair. He also did not say if he would push for the responsible parties to cover the costs.
Mr. Peduto began his move into the mayor's suite shortly after former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl finished packing up his things and moved out. Within the first week, Mr. Peduto and his staff noticed items missing from the mayor's office and damaged fixtures, all of which was eventually reported to the FBI.
The first call to the federal agency was prompted when a technician alerted the mayor to the fact that the former mayor's computer was missing.
Mr. Ravenstahl's attorney this week acknowledged that he took the computer with him before he left office. About a week and a half after Mr. Ravenstahl left office, he contacted a city employee and had him pick up the computer and return it to the city's Department of Innovation and Performance, according to an official with the department.
Charles Porter Jr., Mr. Ravenstahl's attorney, said Wednesday that the former mayor did not think the new administration would hide the computer or lie about its whereabouts, but that generally "he doesn't trust the current administration."
There is no inventory of city gifts, said mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty, who said the administration determined the items were missing "because we know that they were here before."
Regarding an inventory, Mr. McNulty said, "that's something we would look at doing in terms of protecting all city property."
Former Mayor Tom Murphy, who left office in 2005, said Mr. Peduto invited him into his office and inquired about damage to the chandeliers, which he said were missing tassels and had cracks along their cylindrical sides. He told Mr. Peduto that he didn't recall them being damaged when he was in office. Mr. Peduto also asked him about a damaged bookcase.
The missing items include an antique clock and a Waterford crystal trophy that was given to the late Mayor Bob O'Connor to commemorate the Steelers' 2006 Super Bowl win. The crystal bowl is valued at $30,000. A vase from Wuhan, China, was also missing, though its companion remains in a glass case outside of city council chambers. It's not clear when the city received the vases, but Wuhan is Pittsburgh's sister city in China and delegations from the western Chinese city have given Pittsburgh officials gifts in the past.
Moriah Balingit: email@example.com. Rich Lord contributed. First Published March 19, 2014 1:06 PM