Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants to break the law.
The push by him and city councilmembers like Corey O’Connor is nothing more than people looking to break the law to get what they want. In that way, it makes them no different than a carjacker or burglar. As such, it seems reasonable that they are subjected to the same criminal repercussions as any other criminal, right?
Except, we know good and well that politicians who try to ignore state preemption ordinances don’t get prosecuted. When the prosecutors are political creatures themselves, there’s not a lot of chance that they’ll prosecute other politicians without a reason they can’t ignore, like corruption.
Mayor Bill Peduto and most of Pittsburgh City Council were hit Thursday with private criminal complaints filed against them with the district attorney over proposed gun legislation — but the District Attorney’s Office says the complaints were filed prematurely and improperly.
Val Finnell of Kennedy Township and Alexis Stefko of Pittsburgh filed their complaints separately and electronically, using a web form on the DA’s office website.
“If a bank robber is going to rob a bank or if a terrorist is going to blow up a building, you don’t have to wait for that, you can arrest them ahead of time,” Finnell told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.
Earlier in the week, Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 video showed Finnell chatting with District Attorney Steve Zappala about Finnell’s plans when they crossed paths in a courthouse hallway outside Zappala’s office.
The complaints were submitted to the DA because he is the one who must decide whether to approve the private complaint for action. The complaints accuse Peduto, the seven council members who are co-sponsoring the gun legislation, and the city solicitor of violating Pennsylvania’s Constitution and laws, official oppression, and criminal intent.
Finnell writes in his complaints that the city officials are “in knowing violation” of provisions of the state constitution and laws and that “Mayor Peduto and City Council members have attempted, solicited, and conspired to introduce and have introduced (the legislation) for the sole purpose of denying or otherwise impeding individuals residing in or traveling through Pittsburgh the exercise or enjoyment of their rights and privileges.”
But the DA’s Office says Finnell and Stefko got it wrong since the gun bills aren’t yet law.
Zappala is probably right, unfortunately. While some crimes are such that people can be arrested in the planning stage, this likely isn’t one of them. I know, it’s frustrating for me too, but that’s just the fact of the matter, and we can’t change that.
Look at it this way; if Peduto gets his way, he’ll face multiple court cases. First, there will be the lawsuits to overturn the law because the state has a preemption law on the books. Then there will be ample opportunity to prosecute both he and people like O’Connor for their crime.
It’s worth noting that Zappala hasn’t said he wouldn’t prosecute, only that he can’t prosecute over a mere political discussion.
For better or worse, he’s right.
Because he hasn’t refused to prosecute at all, there’s still hope that he’ll do so if and when the Pittsburgh City Council passes the measure. Then I hope everyone who voted for it gets prosecuted.