Peduto presents Pittsburgh 'blueprint'

Over 1,100 people take mayor-elect up on offer to recommend fixes to Pittsburgh

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Kevin Acklin, Mayor-elect Bill Peduto's incoming chief of staff, said he was initially skeptical of his boss' plan to open his transition team up to help from the public with little more than a month before the new administration took office.

Nearly 1,110 people took the new mayor, a former city councilman, up on his offer to recommend fixes to the vast universe of issues confronting Pittsburgh and the city government, from education and affordable housing to public safety and economic development, among many others.

"You guys hit the ball out of the park," Mr. Acklin told an audience of several hundred Monday night during a two-hour summary of the group's recommendations at the David Lawrence Hall on the Pitt campus. "Bill was right."

Mr. Peduto, who will be sworn in Monday, hefted the white binder holding the 1,100 pages submitted by the volunteer committees, telling the crowd it would become the "blueprint" for his administration.

"It's not that we're going to be able to do all of this, but we're going to try to do a lot of it," Mr. Peduto said, adding that working on the committees' reports brought his new team together and gave them an introduction to the issues they'll face. "This gives us something very real to work from."

The committees' work will be compiled into a final report and posted on a specially designed website in about a month, Mr. Acklin said. The summary of the recommendations is expected to be posted to the transition team's website, www.billpeduto.com, sooner.

Among the common themes Mr. Peduto's team identified in the reports were the need for a "culture change" in the city workforce, more transparency and community engagement, technology upgrades and instituting ethics and good government standards.

Other members of Mr. Peduto's incoming administration presented broad overviews of the findings from the eight committees, which were broken into 47 smaller subcommittees.

They offered recommendations on how to better combat blighted neighborhoods and abandoned properties, tools to finance new development and better market Pittsburgh to the world and plans to strengthen relationships with nonprofits, improve regional transportation and city government services, reduce complaints of police misconduct and improve the relations between officers and the community. There were also recommendations to revamp how appointments are made to city boards, authorities and commissions and put in place new ethics programs and procedures for municipal investigations.

"We're not going to be able to do it all at once. But we can find the low-hanging fruit," Mr. Peduto said.

Mr. Acklin acknowledged that many of the fixes will require local and state legislative action, though he noted that the items will split among the leaders of the incoming administration and prioritized according to what can be accomplished in the first 100 days in office.

"This was an amazing process for all of us," Mr. Acklin told the audience. "We will never let you down, We want you to hold us accountable. We want to available. Because all of us want to do the right thing."

Karen Brean, 59, of Point Breeze worked on mixed-use housing and civic engagement during the 30-day process and typified the prevailing sunny attitude in the room toward Mr. Peduto's incoming administration.

"Folks are very optimistic, and I share in that optimism," said Ms. Brean, an architect and former city planner and now the executive director of the Community Technical Assistance Center, which supports community development groups. "I've known him for a long time. I'm really excited about his commitment to listening to folks."


Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3909.

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