North Side man says Pittsburgh fired him for political reasons |
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Bob Bauder

A North Side man running for Pittsburgh City Council says the city fired him in January from his job as a public works foreman because Mayor Bill Peduto is supporting another candidate in the race.

It marks the third time that the city has terminated Mark Brentley Sr. during his 32-year career.

Brentley, 62, said arbitration panels ordered his reinstatement the previous two times.

He said he suspects Peduto approved the latest firing. The mayor denied that Tuesday and said politics played no part in the termination.

Brentley is running for a District 1 council seat held by Councilwoman Darlene Harris of Spring Hill, who is seeking re-election. Brentley and Bobby Wilson, also of Spring Hill, are challenging Harris in the Democratic primary on Mary 21. Peduto in March publicly endorsed Wilson.

“It had nothing to do with the decision,” Peduto said.

The mayor claimed that Brentley wasn’t showing up for his scheduled night shift. Brentley was promoted and in his new position, had the least amount of seniority, Peduto said.

“As such he does not get to choose what hours he works but is the last to choose,” Peduto said. “He was working a night shift that he wouldn’t show up for. He was showing up for work during the day, but he was scheduled to work during the evening.”

Peduto said Brentley was given three chances to return to work but refused.

Brentley said employees with less seniority than he were on the job, and the city violated his union contract by requiring him to work nights. He said the Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission agreed to reinstate him so long as he signed a last chance agreement.

He said he signed the agreement but stipulated in writing that he was doing so under duress. The commission then reversed its decision and upheld the termination, he said.

“If this isn’t a perfect example of abuse of power, I do not know what is,” Brentley said. “I’m saying that nothing happens in this city in terms of hire, fire, promotion, demotion that the mayor isn’t somehow aware of. I believe there is a strong possibility that they reversed their decision for political reasons.”

Peduto disputed Brentley’s account of what happened.

“That’s not how I was told it happened,” Peduto said. “He was given a warning once. He was given a second warning. He was told to write a letter to the director in order to be able to ask why he should be even considered to come back. He didn’t write the letter, and he wouldn’t write the letter. The third time he was finally dismissed.”

Brentley, who served for 16 years as a Pittsburgh Public Schools director and has run unsuccessfully for various city and state offices in past years, said he has filed a complaint with the Pittsburgh Human Services Commission and is considering other options. He said his case is pending before the commission.

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