Editorial: Mayor Peduto, stick to your job
First came the knee-jerk reaction of “It wasn't in Pittsburgh.” Soon followed an apology for being so crass.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's initial thought in the hours following the June 19 fatal shooting in which an East Pittsburgh police officer killed Antwon Rose, 17, was to tell the world that it wasn't his city. “It was in the suburbs of East Pittsburgh. Not part of the city. Not Pittsburgh Police. Not Pittsburgh. Please clarify,” Peduto tweeted the night Officer Michael Rosfeld shot Rose three times in the back.
The blow back was instant and clear: Stand down, person after person told Peduto. He seemed to have listened.
“Last night I tweeted about the tragedy in East Pittsburgh. I was wrong. In an attempt to clarify, I made a tragic event worse,” Peduto posted to Twitter. “To the family & friends of Antwon Rose, I apologize for any additional grief I may have caused. To my constituents, I will work to be better.”
That would have been a great place to stop, ponder one's actions and learn a heart-felt lesson following what appeared to be a heart-felt apology.
Too bad that didn't happen.
As a series of protests over several days and nights — and now, sporadically, several weeks — sometimes took to Pittsburgh streets, Mayor Peduto has had every right and even the responsibility to talk about public safety, civil rights, social change and other related topics. And no doubt, he has.
But in publicly calling for criminal charges to be filed in the case, for a jury trial to be convened and that Rosfeld's bond and electronically monitored house arrest be revoked, Peduto once again stepped in it.
He wrote Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning “respectfully asking for the reconsideration of the bond” that Rosfeld received — which a district magistrate set at $250,000, unsecured. A ridiculous decision, no doubt.
The order that Rosfeld be placed on electronic home monitoring didn't go far enough, the mayor asserted.
“It sends the wrong message to people I represent in the City of Pittsburgh who are concerned that the officer is receiving special treatment not afforded to others facing the same charges, and are further concerned that this case will be fully and fairly adjudicated.”
As mayor, of course Peduto has a job to do. Those duties, however, do not extend to being the district attorney or a judge. Those, too, are elected offices which Peduto is free to run for. He hasn't.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala on June 27 charged Rosfeld with criminal homicide. Aside from possibly irking him, Peduto's public cry for how Zappala should do his job had no bearing on the outcome. Just as Peduto's calls for a jury trial or for Rosfeld's bond to be revoked will have nothing to do with how either of those matters play out.
As a citizen, Peduto has the right to say what he wants. As a public figure, he should be more measured and wise enough to stay in his own lane.
Stick to your job, Mr. Mayor, and let others do the ones they've been elected to do. In short, stand down. Again.