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Ferlo slams TV station at meeting

Wednesday, October 27, 1999

By Timothy McNulty, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pittsburgh City Councilman Jim Ferlo -- who has a voluble opinion on just about everything -- has turned into a television critic, offering the following opinion on the news gathering skills of WPXI:

"Channel 11 [stinks], period," Ferlo announced at a council meeting yesterday morning.

City Council usually gives out heartwarming proclamations at the beginning of its meetings to Boy Scout troops, grandmothers and priests. But Ferlo had something new in store for the station.

The hard-charging councilman unfurled a large, embossed city council resolution for the station, which he signed and gave to a WPXI cameraman. Inside in bold letters it said "GOLDEN SCREW AWARD. Presented to Channel 11 for Inaccurate & Sensationalistic Reporting." As an added flourish, printed in the middle of the resolution was a 6-inch gold screw.

"Channel 11 is a useless news media outlet. They run ridiculous stories," he said.

Ferlo was tweaked by a WPXI report last week that he intervened to have parking tickets rescinded for residents of a section of Bloomfield who commonly park halfway on sidewalks, in violation of city law. While admitting the parking practice is "technically illegal," he said it doesn't hurt anybody and police don't usually mind.

When some residents were tagged recently, Ferlo intervened and had the tickets voided. Ferlo said he commonly intervenes that way for residents of his district, but WPXI's report made it seem as though he were doing something illegal.

"Anyone on this council has done this to accommodate and resolve these disputes," Ferlo said. "So Channel 11, it's no big scandal, go on to some other great crime."

Channel 11 news director Jennifer Rigby said she was surprised Ferlo would take time away from city business to make such a proclamation. She said the station stands by its story.

"We did speak with Pittsburgh Police Commander Dom Costa and he had taken issue with this practice," Rigby said. "I know Councilman Ferlo was upset with us doing the story. He called and tried to get me to kill the story before it went on the air. We will continue to report on what's going on in City Hall and on the actions of our elected officials. That's our job."


Post-Gazette TV editor Rob Owen contributed to this story.



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