Saturday, May 06, 2006

Meanwhile... Back in the 9th Council District

Things don't look too good for Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle. The Trib broke the story awhile earlier, and now it looks like a pile on. Saw it all over the news recently, and the P-G is really trying to make up for not picking up the story first. I hear that they have Mark Belko and Rich Lord chained to an oar.

Last night I even saw KDKA's footage of the Councilwoman making "a break for it"; this was tabloid journalism at its finest, adding much needed shots of cars "swerving" into oncoming traffic at the blistering speed of 5 mph.

Anyway, you might remember (I know that Luke does) that the Councilwoman was, how shall we say, "tweaked" for her purchase of near random books with taxpayer money while the city was going through cutbacks.

On June 22, the day that more than 250 city workers went to City Council to lobby against the deep spending cuts in the city's Act 47 plan, Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle went to Oakland and put a half-dozen books on the city's tab. Among the titles were "On the Down Low," "I Am the Central Park Jogger" and, for $27.99, Bill Clinton's "My Life."

Those were just some of the dozens of books Carlisle has charged the past 20 months, using $2,400 in taxpayer funds. Others include cookbooks, romance novels and self-help books....

On June 29, council approved the Act 47 recovery plan by a 5-4 vote over the forceful complaints of city workers facing job, health care and pension cuts in the plan. Carlisle joined Len Bodack, Jim Motznik and Luke Ravenstahl in voting against it...

Two days after Christmas in 2002, Carlisle went to the Pitt bookstore in Oakland and bought more than a dozen novels and other books, including "At Home with Carolyne Roehm" (a $60 entertaining guide) and "I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It," by former professional basketball player Charles Barkley.

Carlisle rang up $2,397 in similar book purchases through this summer, going to the store at least 13 times. She said she gave many books to constituents to promote reading and support African-American authors...
So, there's the hint at a history of questionable actions and judgment or, more seriously, impropriety there. That doesn't bode well for her.

You might also remember that Ms. Carlisle was subsequently the chief supporter of ending the Act 47 oversight, much to the delight of the Fire Fighter's Union. One may wonder how that will play in her bid for re-election in 2007. A cynic may even go so far to say that she used that vote to opportunistically grandstand.

But, I'm one to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm going to point to Rule #5 over on the right there and... let's say... Rule # 16. I don't believe that Ms. Carlisle was acting with malicious or devious intent that would constitute an illegal act. Further, the action was so obviously transparent that it would almost have to be legal; only really, really dumb person would try to pull this off if it was illegal. Still, the problem here isn't if what the Councilwoman did (directing funds to a researcher with questioned credentials who happened to be living with her mother for a study with seemingly commonsense findings that she subsequently refused to release) was illegal, but rather that it appears to be illegal.

I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say that what the Councilwoman did was not illegal... but it sure seems that way. "Perception is reality," the saying goes, and it will be up to her constituents to decide whether or not they believe that her actions warrant removal from office.

Her campaign for re-election will culminate a year from now. Two large questions spring to mind: (1) will the Mayor and the Powers-That-Be support a candidate that is proving to be political poison and (2) is there anyone else is Council District 9 that can be a reasonable challenger to both the incumbent and Rule #16.

I'm not optimistic.

No comments: