Pittsburgh would settle with Blush strip club for $25K
By Bob Bauder
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 1:39 p.m.
The short-lived decision to ban Pittsburgh police officers from providing off-duty security at a Downtown strip club could be a costly one.
Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday will introduce legislation to pay One Three Five Inc., which does business as Blush, to settle a lawsuit the company filed claiming the ban violated its First Amendment rights.
Acting police Chief Regina McDonald enacted the ban shortly after being promoted in February and did it without consulting city attorneys, according to her testimony in the case.
McDonald referred questions Tuesday to the city's Law Department. Assistant solicitor Wendy Kobee declined to comment on whether McDonald should have asked for legal advice in advance other than to say, “The Law Department is always available to confer with department heads.”
McDonald testified before a federal judge in April that she made her decision after reading articles stating that other cities prohibit police from working at adult entertainment businesses.
She cited a 2007 department policy that prohibits off-duty officers from working at places that would “tend to bring the Bureau of Police into disrepute.”
City police had been working at Blush for nearly 50 years until the ban.
“We look forward to maintaining our wonderful partnership with the city and its police department,” said Downtown attorney Jonathan Kamin, who represented Blush.
U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer overturned the ban in June, ruling that it likely violated the club's constitutional rights. Officers resumed working at the club afterward, according to police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
Public Safety Director Mike Huss said he is negotiating with the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 to establish a new policy for police moonlighting. The policy, among other things, would define when and where off-duty officers can work, he said. He declined further comment, citing ongoing negotiations.
FOP President Mike LaPorte said the city could incur costs in addition to the settlement. The union has filed a grievance seeking back pay of $10,000 to $12,000 for two officers who work security at Blush, as well as Cheerleaders in the Strip District, he said.
Council President Darlene Harris said she could not comment because the Law Department has yet to brief council on the proposed settlement.
Businesses pay about $40 an hour for off-duty officers. That includes a $3.85 per hour administrative fee the city charges.
A federal grand jury in March indicted former police Chief Nate Harper, 60, of Stanton Heights with diverting some of the money to accounts he opened at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Credit Union and spending at least $31,986 on personal uses. The grand jury accused him of failing to file tax returns for four years. McDonald became acting chief when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl asked Harper to resign in February.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Club helps members speak up
- Zelienople pastry shop has been sweet retreat for 4 decades
- Penn State trustee resigns, regrets Paterno vote
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- Penguins stave off Ducks’ shooting barrage to win in shootout
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- 12 local wrestlers advance to PIAA Class AAA finals
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant
- East Hills brawl involves 50 people, nets at least 1 arrest