by Chris Potter
In today's copwatch news, a federal judge denied a request by the city to delay the trial of a former detective, Bradley Walker, accused of an off-duty road-rage incident. The judge, Arthur Schwab, ruled that the city was trying to delay the March 18 trial to minimize publicity stemming from former police chief Nate Harper's legal troubles. "[T]here is no reason to believe that any publicity ... would diminish over the [four to six] months for which Defendants request for a continuance," Schwab wrote. Yeah, but at least it would happen after the election. Also from the Post-Gazette, turns out there is an awful lot of goddamn money at stake in police officer's off-duty secondary details work. Like $6 million worth each year. At least.
Also on the Officer Unfriendly beat, the Tribune-Review purports to have a secret FBI file that reveals a cover-up in prisoner abuse at the Allegheny County Jail. The file, some 1,000 pages long, reportedly says that former jail warden Ramon Rustin was among those involved in sanitizing incident reports of abuse directed at inmate Gary Barbour. Barbour is suing; his attorney -- who by the way has also represented the Tribune-Review and its publisher -- is alleging a "vast and deliberate cover-up" in his lawsuit.
In what's become an annual event almost as predictable as the Oscars themselves, the city's film office is grousing that the state's film-tax credit isn't large enough to attract all the film production work the city could be getting. The state allocated $60 million to the purpose in the current fiscal year, and while next year's budget has money, this year's allotment is already tapped out.
In most other states, Republican plans to monkey with Electoral College rules are being seen as the embarrassment they are -- an admission that the GOP has to change the rules because it can't win Presidential elections under the system we've been using for centuries. But being a Pennsylvania legislator requires abandoning all sense of shame ... so it's no surprise that 13 Republicans have proposed a bill to allocated Electoral votes proportionally. That would have garnered Mitt Romney 8 electoral votes here, as opposed to the zero he got in the winner-take-all system. In the abstract, there's no reason to stick with the existing system ... but changing the rules in Blue states while leaving the existing system in Red states is just another way of tilting the playing field.
Could Gov. Tom Corbett's approach to cutting public pension costs actually increase them instead? Some signs point to yes. Among other concerns, Corbett's proposal actually reduces the amount school districts and municipalities pay to the pension fund ... which logically will increase the shortfalls in the fund. You'd think someone would have thought of that.