Peduto offering residents a seat at the table

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Bill Peduto is going to need a bigger boardroom.

Just a few hours after the soon-to-be Pittsburgh mayor sent out a call Monday morning for volunteers to serve on transition teams tackling city issues, Mr. Peduto had nearly 200 applications in his inbox.

They're clamoring for a seat on one of the mayor-elect's eight committees, which will debate at a breakneck speed and provide Mr. Peduto with proposed policies by the end of the year. City residents have a little less than a week -- until 5 p.m. Monday -- to finish their applications, which can be submitted online at

"I am honored and excited by the initial response in the community, and I encourage more residents to sign up to take part in building a new Pittsburgh," Mr. Peduto said in a statement announcing the numbers.

Mr. Peduto appears to be following the lead of his political ally, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who convened "vision teams" shortly after his election that met regularly and eventually submitted policy recommendations. But while Mr. Fitzgerald's committees took more than a year to complete their duties, Mr. Peduto's will have just a month, with final reports due by Dec. 31.

"Our teams are going to be focused on very specific issues," said Kevin Acklin, Mr. Peduto's chief of staff. "These aren't going to be high-minded, long-running vision teams. They're going to be closer to implementation teams."

The committees include:

* Economic development, chaired by Mr. Acklin;

* Innovation and performance, chaired by Debra Lam, chief innovation and performance officer;

* Administration and finance, chaired by Debbie Lestitian, chief administration officer;

* Operations and infrastructure, chaired by Guy Costa, chief operations officer;

* Housing and urban empowerment, chaired by Valerie McDonald-Roberts, chief urban affairs officer;

* Education and neighborhood re-investment, chaired by Curtiss Porter, chief education and neighborhood reinvestment officer;

* Public safety, chaired by Mr. Peduto;

* Law and ethics, chaired by Lourdes Sanchez Ridge, solicitor and chief legal officer.

With a nod to the campaign's commitment to fight cronyism, the Peduto administration says it wants ordinary folks to serve on the teams.

"Oftentimes, transition teams aren't open to the public," Mr. Acklin said. "Regular city residents should have an opportunity to have a seat at the table."

But they'll have to get a move on: Mr. Peduto wants the teams to begin their work Nov. 25.

Andrew McGill: or 412-263-1497. First Published November 11, 2013 10:49 AM

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