City contractor lands project at mayor's home
A contractor who owns a company that is renovating Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's house received more than $2 million for city work since 2010.
The city paid about $2.3 million — mostly for construction of an athletic field in Riverview Park — to R&B Contracting and Excavation Inc. of West Homestead, according to invoices in the city controller's office. State records show the company is owned by William J. Rogers, 47, of New Homestead.
Rogers also owns All State Development, which is listed on a building permit as the company performing at least $8,500 worth of exterior and interior work on a house in Fineview that Ravenstahl purchased on Aug. 31. According to the permit issued by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspection, work included a block retaining wall, which is under construction.
Several pallets of block remained on the side of the driveway along with what appeared to be boxes of construction material. Ravenstahl could not be reached for comment on Friday. His spokeswoman Marissa Doyle did not return a call.
Rogers declined to comment.
A federal grand jury reviewing city spending in public safety this week turned its attention to Ravenstahl. His two bodyguards and personal secretary appeared on Wednesday before the panel.
Using a contractor that does business with the city raises sticky questions for Ravenstahl, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
“The wise thing for the mayor would be to not give the work to a contractor who works with the city,” she said. “A smart mayor would not raise those concerns because you don't want people to ask those questions.
“It may call into question his political judgment,” she said.
Jamieson said a strong city ethics policy should outline whether such business is proper.
Pittsburgh's Code of Conduct states an employee should not “accept any service or anything of value … upon more favorable terms than those granted to the public generally from any person, firm or corporation having dealings with the city.”
If Ravenstahl got a better price for the work at his home than other people would get from the contractor, that would cause an appearance of impropriety, Jamieson said.
“If that's the price any other contractor would have bid, and the mayor does not control the process of where contracts go, there's no problem,” she said.
The city paid R&B about $1.3 million to build a soccer field in Riverview Park on the North Side. The company was the lowest bidder for the job, according to documents in the controller's office.
Pittsburgh paid the company about $605,000 to clean up a landslide last year on the P.J. McArdle Roadway on Mt. Washington, which was nearly double what the city expected to pay. The contract was let without bid because it was considered an emergency.
Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski, a Ravenstahl appointee, signed all the contracts with R&B. Kaczorowski did not return a phone call.
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.
- Knoxville man charged in high-speed chase through city
- Pa. woman charged with forging docs to claim she was an attorney
- Police seek couple in assault, robbery
- Washington County school superintendent charged with DUI gets probation
- Region’s Goodwill spends $51.6M in 2014, report says
- Energetic guest conductor inspires fresh performances
- North Fayette company changes defendants in Antonio Brown endorsement lawsuit
- Jury acquits man accused of 2005 murder in Braddock
- Iran, powers struggle to overcome disputes in push for nuclear deal
- Roberto Clemente Bridge closes for construction of bike lanes
- O’Hara ALS awareness advocate dies at 49