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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Lance: To Michael Lamb. The Pittsburgh controller and Democrat mayoral wannabe has been making near-daily political hay out of the Bureau of Police scandal, placing the blame squarely at the feet of incumbent Democrat Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to convicting Mr. Ravenstahl in the court of public opinion: Turns out Mr. Lamb was alerted to the hinkiness three months ago and says his staff was too busy to begin an audit. Ah, the bleats of a hypocrite.

On the “Watch List”: As much as we would detest the resulting UPMC monopoly, it appears more and more likely that the state Insurance Department will reject Highmark Inc.'s plan to essentially subsume the beleaguered West Penn Allegheny Health System. That's because, as Highmark now freely admits, it needs a new contract with UPMC, West Penn's chief rival, to make the West Penn deal work. The admission could end up being the goose that further gilds the golden Romoff, so to speak.

Lance: To West Penn Allegheny. Its financial controls were so loosey-goosey that its onetime financial services manager allegedly was able to steal more than $700,000 over nearly four years. Ira L. Johnson of Penn Hills now faces 10 charges for diverting the money between mid-2007 and late 2011. Worse, while Mr. Johnson was fired in November 2011, the hospital system didn't learn of the theft for another 14 months. If oversight was so sloppy here, what's that say for the rest of the institution?

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