Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
On the “Watch List”:
• Nate Harper. Pittsburgh's police chief is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation. At issue: Did he play a role in awarding a city contract to a shell company established by a friend to install computers in police vehicles? The chief previously said the department “had no involvement in securing the contract”; a spokeswoman says Mr. Harper was unaware of any investigation. Stay tuned.
• The race for Pittsburgh mayor. City Controller Michael Lamb has joined City Councilman Bill Peduto in the effort to unseat incumbent Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the Democrats' May primary. Maybe former state Auditor General and council President Jack Wagner will join the fray, too. But perhaps there's a clever lad or lass waiting in the wings for an independent or Republican run, one who could make such a run more than the usual exercise in futility? Don't touch that dial.
• West Penn Allegheny Health System. Highmark Inc. has cut a deal with bondholders of the struggling health system to pay off its strangling, bankruptcy-threatening $726 million debt for a cash payment of about $635 million. It's considered key to the insurance giant subsuming, and saving, West Penn Allegheny. But while officials say the pensions of the health system's employees will be protected, nobody's saying how the plan's multimillion-dollar unfunded liability will be addressed. Details straightaway?