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City Neighborhoods
City Briefs: 5/8/2003

Thursday, May 08, 2003

CITY COUNCIL: Review board shrinking

More than half of the seats on the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board will be vacant this summer, barring the body from holding hearings on alleged police misconduct, unless Mayor Tom Murphy and City Council nominate new members.

Two of the seven slots were already vacant when two more members announced their resignations last month, review board director Elizabeth Pittenger told council yesterday. The Rev. Toussaint Hill Jr.'s resignation will be effective June 1 and former police officer Craig Edwards left as of April 30.

Charles Peters and Eric Roberson resigned earlier.

Only board Chairman Marsha Hinton, Vice Chairman John Bingler and the Rev. Johnnie Monroe remain.

Without a quorum of four members the review board will not be able to authorize public hearings on police misconduct or make recommendations on police discipline, Pittenger said.

"We have seven seats on the board and three are filled. We've got to correct that situation," said city Councilman Sala Udin, who supported the citywide referendum that created the review board in 1997.

Council President Gene Ricciardi urged the Murphy administration and other council members to issue board nominations by Wednesday.

The board has unsuccessfully sued the Murphy administration to force police officers to testify before it, and is currently appealing the matter to the state Supreme Court.

Fellowships awarded

City Councilman William Peduto yesterday awarded paid fellowships to three city residents to study economic development issues and to report back to council later this year with their results.

The fellowships were given to: Seth Hufford, 28, of Friendship, who will study the city's tax structure; Alexandra Laporte, 28, of Shadyside, studying neighborhood development; and Abhisek Mitra, 25, of Shadyside, studying tax increment financing.

The "Guyasuta Fellows" will be led by Pat Clark of Friendship, a co-founder of the Ground Zero network and managing partner of Jackson/Clark Partners. They will be paid with about $10,000 from Peduto's office salary account.

The purpose of the fellowship is to gather public policy ideas from young city residents and give them a voice, Peduto said.

EAST HILLS: Accused killer gets break

An East Hills teenager who initially was arrested and charged with homicide as an adult in the slaying last year of a Homewood man will instead be prosecuted as a juvenile.

In a hearing yesterday, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel granted a motion by attorney Warner Mariani to decertify the adult charges against his client, Eric Patterson, 16. McDaniel now will try Patterson under juvenile law, meaning that if he is found guilty he will be incarcerated only until he is 21.

Patterson will be tried in the slaying of Michael Givens, 21, of Homewood, who was shot 13 times on Nov. 9 behind a house on East Hills Drive. Police said his assailants fired 22 shots from two guns during the attack.

Also charged in the Givens killing is Devon Cleveland, 20, of Wilkinsburg.

STANTON HEIGHTS: Tire slashings probed

About 50 tires were slashed in Stanton Heights early yesterday, leaving Pittsburgh police with few clues but plenty of angry vehicle owners.

Whoever committed the vandalism concentrated on vehicles parked on Brintell, Coleridge and McCabe streets and Stanton Court.

The slashings appear to have occurred roughly between midnight and 6 a.m., said Lt. Michael Scott of the East Liberty station.

Scott said some of the slashings involved multiple tires on one vehicle. Police were still taking calls yesterday about the vandalism.

HILL DISTRICT: Man charged in robberies

Moving quickly, Pittsburgh police yesterday arrested a man for a bank robbery Tuesday in the Hill District and then charged him with holding up three other businesses.

David L. Butler, 49, of Beltzhoover, was charged with four counts of robbery in connection with four holdups on consecutive days, starting Saturday.

Police said Butler targeted Dwelling House Savings & Loan on Herron Avenue in the most recent robbery.

He is also accused of robbing a parking garage at Chatham Center on Monday, a Sunoco service station on Centre Avenue on Sunday and the Melwood drugstore on Centre Avenue on Saturday.

Butler was arrested just after noon yesterday on Francis Street.

U.S. DISTRICT COURT: City, ACLU, judge to meet

The city of Pittsburgh has agreed to a settlement conference this morning with the American Civil Liberties Union in a federal lawsuit charging the city with depriving homeless people of their rights.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by the ACLU on behalf of four homeless men. It asks that the city not only give adequate warning to homeless people before their encampments are cleaned out but also that it safeguard their property.

Chief U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose will meet with ACLU and city attorneys at 9:30 a.m. in her courtroom.

If no agreement is reached, the city has agreed not to conduct the sweeps until a hearing is held.

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