Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Not Sore Loser. Rather Sore Victor. To the victor goes the spoils.

I'd rather not say anything here and now as I don't want to get "paved over" nor "railroaded" nor "9-to-5-ed" (whatever that might mean).

I did see Diven driving to town yesterday in his big black SUV. I guess he had a court date. Did he miss the budget session in Harrisburg for this?
Libel lawsuit has undercurrent of South Hills political battle Libel lawsuit has undercurrent of South Hills political battle

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A long-running battle for political dominance in the city's southern wards went litigious yesterday, as a city councilman sued a foe backed by a rival group.


Bryce said...

All I can say about this is that this is TDB - Typical Democrat Behavior. I should have taken a clue back in 2000 with Sore Loserman Al Gore.

Motznik won - get over it. Furthermore, he didn't exactly win by a landslide. But he won, so I can't see what his beef is, unless he really DID misuse city resources.

This case will also give Coghill instant name recognition if he chooses to run for anything again, so this deal could very well backfire.

My real concern is the type of precedents this case will set in terms of political speech and disclosure requirements. Soon, most every election will be followed by a lawsuit. I pity the

Anonymous said...

Libel lawsuit has undercurrent of South Hills political battle

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A long-running battle for political dominance in the city's southern wards went litigious yesterday, as a city councilman sued a foe backed by a rival group.

Jim Motznik, left, and Anthony Coghill
Councilman Jim Motznik accused vanquished Democratic primary opponent Anthony Coghill of making "scandalous, defamatory and libelous statements" in campaign literature. Motznik also sued Coghill's campaign committee, campaign treasurer, and his mother, who chaired his campaign.

The lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, focuses on a piece of Coghill campaign literature distributed before the May 17 primary. The flier alleged that Motznik and state Rep. Michael Diven, R-Brookline, helped Pittsburgh School Board member Dan Romaniello get a "free illegal driveway" at taxpayer expense.

"Everything we said is true, as far as I know it," said Coghill.

The city did, in fact, pave 220 square feet of publicly owned right of way at the end of Romaniello's driveway, said city Public Works Director Guy Costa. That violated city policy, said Costa, resulting in a verbal reprimand for the unnamed city employee involved and an as-yet-unpaid $751.23 invoice for Romaniello.

But who paved what for whom was less an issue yesterday than who asked whom to pave what.

"I had absolutely nothing to do with anything done on the street near Mr. Romaniello's house," said Motznik. He also denied a claim, made in the flier, that Romaniello's home served as his campaign headquarters.

Diven, too, denied asking the city to pave the driveway.

Motznik, Diven and Romaniello are political allies. When Diven was a councilman, Motznik was his aide. Romaniello's wife is Diven's campaign treasurer.

On the other side, Coghill was backed by the Wagner family, which includes state Auditor General Jack Wagner and his brother, 19th Ward Democratic Chairman Pete Wagner.

The 19th Ward includes Beechview, Duquesne Heights, Mount Washington and most of Brookline, and typically generates more votes than any other ward except the 14th, which centers on Squirrel Hill.

The Motznik-Coghill race was actually the undercard in May, overshadowed by a muddy state Senate race between Diven and Wayne Fontana. Fontana, with Wagner backing, won that one.

Both of those races reflected past contests, like Motznik's defeat of Coghill in 2001 and Diven's win over Richard Nerone in 2004.

"In the 19th Ward, it's not about Democrat or Republican," said Diven, who switched from the former party to the latter in January. "It's about, you listen to the Wagners, or you don't get the [Democratic] party's support."

"I just think it's humorous," said Pete Wagner of the lawsuit and Diven's characterization.

Lawsuits related to political charges are hard to win, conceded Motznik's attorney, Ira Weiss. That doesn't stop people from filing them.

In May, Paul Renne sued Melissa Rossiter, saying she falsely accused him of mishandling funds raised to operate Ream Pool. Renne and Rossiter, both of Mt. Washington, finished second and third in a May 17 council primary.

The lawsuit is a gamble for Motznik. It gives the driveway issue new life after he beat Coghill by just 272 votes out of nearly 7,000 cast, and before he faces Republican Bob Hillen in the November election.

It also precedes an anticipated bid for the council presidency.

The lawsuit "has nothing to do with the council presidency," said Motznik. "If you're going to put out literature, there's got to be some truth to it."

Otherwise, he said, "What's to stop this from happening the next time I run, or anybody else runs?"

(Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.)

Mark Rauterkus said...

Interesting how Pete Wagner just thinks it is humorous. Great answer. Good to have him interviewed too. Well done, again Rich Lord.

Interesting how the Motznik and Coghill race for the D's nomination was just the "undercard."

I wasn't mentioned in the Fontana vs. Diven vs. Rauterkus race -- but I guess it is better to be left out of the mud tossing -- again.

However, the 19th Ward was very populated with voters in our race. It is also home to Michael Lamb and that too was a bigger headline race than the council seat's Dem primary. But, there was a lot of skin in the game on many fronts in that election in those neighborhoods.

Finally, I saw Jack Wagner recently. I mentioned how one radio guest host said that Jack won the race for Wayne. Jack was quick to say it was really Pete Wagner (Jack Brother) who should be given the credit. Pete did a lot of heavy lifting in that race, as usual.

When I went to the polls on election day for some visits, I was quite impressed by Pete's grip on the voters at his corner of the world. He knew exactly how many INDIES were in the ward and had voted by 4:30 pm.