Twanda Carlisle is not a freak of government


I have not commented on the plight of City Councilor Twanda Carlisle, seen here with John Shaft, and was not planning to. Being charged with crimes is newsworthy, but that stuff is for newspapers. For the rest of us, we have known her to be crooked for a long time. I came around when I saw this Tribune-Review paragraph:

Carlisle authorized some invoices that had vague details, inflated payments for comparable city services and no receipts, the grand jury found. In some cases, required signatures were missing.

Twanda did not authorize this spending by herself; the entire council authorized it. They authorize payments like these every week with no oversight but that of their fellow councilpeople, who lack the time, and in most cases the inclination, to go around bugging their fellow council members about how this or that thousand dollars was spent.

Here is the record of one week’s worth of this kind of spending. The relevant portion:

Abdulovic, Mary Kay-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 750.00
Abdulovic, Mary Kay-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 750.00
Abdulovic, Mary Kay-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 750.00
Abdulovic, Mary Kay-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 750.00
Abdulovic, Mary Kay-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 750.00
Akyea, Bridget-professional services (City Clerk) 817.50
Akyea, Bridget-professional services (City Clerk) 665.00
Albrecht, Jill-professional services (Motznik, Dist. 4) 500.00
Albrecht, Jill-professional services (Motznik, Dist. 4) 450.00
Allied Office Supplies-professional services (Motznik, Dist. 4) 71.94
Bodack, Len-reimbursement for District Office (Dist. 7) 148.89
Bloomfield Preservation & Heritage Society-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 125.00
Brown, Paul-professional services (Carlisle, Dist. 9) 139.00
Dinda’s Catering-professional services (Hertzberg, Dist. 2) 595.00
Drake, Eileen-professional services (City Clerk) 707.50
Karabinos, Jack-professional services (Motznik, Dist. 4) 750.00
Karabinos, Jack-professional services (Motznik, Dist. 4) 750.00
Kramm, Robert-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 1,000.00
Kramm, Robert-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 1,000.00
Kramm, Robert-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 1,000.00
Lawrenceville United-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 1,000.00
Lawrenceville United-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 1,000.00
N. St. Clair Toy Drive-professional services (Carlisle, Dist. 9) 250.00
Polish Hill Civic Assoc.-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 500.00
Robert Morris University-professional services (Motznik, Dist. 4) 1,000.00
VFW Morningside Post #3945-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 1,000.00
VFW Morningside Post #3945-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 1,000.00
YWCA of Greater Pgh-professional services (Bodack, Dist. 7) 750.00

You might notice, up there in the K area, a couple of guys who got paid in installments. My guess is this is done to avoid raising the interest of the City Controller or the Act 47 Board, although this is just speculation. Pretty much everything you could say about this spending is speculative, because what you are looking at here is all that you, citizen, get to see.

This work that these people did, whatever it might be, is not advertised for, nor is there any requirement for work product, apart from requirements the individual council members might invent. This spending traditionally passes unanimously.

Statements like the one from the Trib above further the perception that Twanda Carlisle is a single bad apple, hiding within council. In fact, the problem is not individual, although Twanda was more flagrant, perhaps, than others, but systemic: this method of disbursing funds encourages and rewards opacity, graft, and corruption. There is really no way to know if other council members have succumbed, as Twanda did, to greed, or to the wish to transform money, not theirs, into political favors. Of course there isn’t: it was designed that way.

2 Comments so far

  1. Char (unregistered) on April 13th, 2007 @ 12:49 am

    Yes, there is a reason for the “installment” payments you noticed.

    Back when the Twanda “Health Study” broke, council realized they needed to either get tough on policing themselves …. or at least look like they were getting tough on policing themselves.

    To that end, Peduto and Shields tried to amend the rules by saying a single payment to any consultant in excess of $1000 had to be accompanied by some sort of verification of the consultant’s credentials and real contract specifying what was going to be done and when it was going to be done. In addition, no matter how small the invoices were, once a single consultant reached billing levels of $1000 within 1 calendar year, the credential check and contract thing would kick in.

    Surprisingly (?) enough, Motznik, Ravenstahl (then Council Prez) and the other goons were adamantly against this. They were forced to do something now that Peduto/Shields had brought the subject to the public’s attention. So they introduced their own bill with scrutiny levels kicking in on single invoices over $1000 or year-to-date totals over $10,000.

    I remember Shields arguing that “after you pay someone $10,000, the horse is already out of the barn.”

    But Luke just smugly retorted that these levels were “good enough”. Besides, anyone who was intent on defrauding the city would find a way around any rule they came up with. But they had no worry, really. They were all an honorable group. He would, however, be personally reviewing the “suspect” invoices to make sure everything was kosher.

    So that is why you see the above list showing the same person being paid 2,3,4 times in increments of $1000 or less.

    And as I’ve said now for the 3rd time tonight, on 3 different blogs ……WHERE IS THE ETHICS BOARD?


  2. Mark Rauterkus (unregistered) on April 13th, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

    Good post.

    Watchdogs are needed.

    Bloggers, bark more.



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