PITTSBURGH - Budget office records show some staggering overtime figures for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's bodyguards, Channel 11's Alan Jennings reported.
In one case, a single bodyguard made more than $60,000 in overtime pay for three consecutive years.
Ravenstahl has, for some time, been under fire regarding how often he uses bodyguards for personal protection.
When city councilman Bill Peduto, a mayoral candidate, requested specific numbers, including "premium" pay records for Ravenstahl's bodyguards, officials initially said that they could not be located. When they later turned up, Jennings took a close look.
In addition to the aforementioned bodyguard who raked in nearly $190,000 of OT in the last three years, the records show that another one was paid approximately $114,000 in OT over that same time span. In 2010 alone, a third bodyguard made more than $27,000. Add it all up, and the overtime shelled out from 2010 to 2012 was in excess of $330,000.
"The use of Pittsburgh police officers are to protect the people of the city of Pittsburgh. I don't think a mayor should have three officers working overtime to be able to go out with him socializing," Peduto said, adding that the amount of OT pay under Ravenstahl "goes well beyond" anything paid by former mayors Tom Murphy and Sophie Masloff. Peduto said those two each had one security detail that worked a regular 40-hour week.
The mayor's office claims that much of the OT was paid by private businesses, and not funded by taxpayers. Channel 11 News has asked to see that breakdown.
Channel 11 News initially made a contemporary comparison that suggested Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald does not use a bodyguard. It turns out that he, in fact, does have a security detail. While Channel 11 News regrets the error, the difference in OT paid by each politico is considerable.
"The detail also drives for the Executive, allowing him to get work done and make phone calls between meetings/events," Allegheny County Director of Communications Amie Downs said. "There are currently two county police officers assigned to that duty. One works from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the other works 4 p.m. to midnight. Their primary duty is as the Executive's detail, but when not needed, they are part of the General Investigations (GI) Unit, and work cases as assigned by their supervisors within the chain of command.
"A third officer is utilized, as needed, when vacations, etc., require another officer to be available. The two officers alternate assigned weekends, but only work when needed. Obviously, the Executive is very conscious of the overtime and uses them infrequently on Saturday and Sunday. For 2012, overtime costs for the two officers totaled $20,287.46, and to date, in 2013, total $1,146.59."
Meanwhile, Ravenstahl talked to Target 11 investigator Rick Earle about reported accusations made by a former bodyguard that alleged the mayor authorized non-official use of debit cards linked to a slush fund.
Ravenstahl fired back by calling the accusations a pack of lies. He said the accuser is simply a disgruntled ex-employee. He also told Earle that he had no idea the cards were linked to an unauthorized secret account.