Pittsburgh hires new public works director, calls for new applicants for public safety

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The Peduto administration continued its efforts Tuesday to reshape Pittsburgh city government, proposing a restructuring of some city departments, hiring a veteran to head the department of public works and announcing that it was seeking another round of applicants for public safety director.

Pittsburgh City Council also approved a severance program that would offer lump sum or monthly payments to eligible non-union and non-uniform employees to retire early, a proposal by Mayor Bill Peduto to usher out some longtime city employees to make room for his own hires.

Tuesday morning, Mr. Peduto announced he was hiring Mike Gable, a 39-year veteran of city government who retired as a deputy public works director last year, to head that department. Mr. Gable, 57, briefly served as a deputy director of public works for Allegheny County after leaving the city.

Mr. Gable will replace Rob Kaczorowski, who was appointed by former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, to head one of the city's largest departments. With a budget of $35 million, public works handles construction projects, road maintenance, refuse pickup and snow plowing, among other things.

He is the administration's first hire through Talent City, an initiative underwritten and organized by foundations to scrutinize candidates for dozens of city positions with human resource professionals and selection committees. The Peduto administration has the final say on the hires, but has committed to hiring from the finalists recommended by Talent City.

For public safety, though, Mr. Peduto said he plans to re-advertise the position through Talent City to attract new candidates and new finalists. Early this month, he said he was close to making a decision among three finalists from Talent City, but later he said he no longer wanted to put a timeline on the process.

Mike Huss, the current director of public safety and a holdover from the Ravenstahl administration, remains a finalist for the position. The Peduto administration also proposed a budget amendment Tuesday that would raise the director's salary from $105,00 to $125,000, making the position one of the few that pays more than the mayor's.

The retirement incentive package approved by city council is a critical piece of Mr. Peduto's plan to bring in fresh faces and to eliminate some positions. Under the program, 176 non-union and non-uniform employees are eligible because they have a combined 70 years of age and years of service. The deadline for employees to take the program was extended Tuesday to March 14.

Another bill, to allocate $7.1 million for the program from the city's surplus, also was introduced Tuesday, though administration officials have said they believe it will cost considerably less.

The administration also proposed nearly a dozen budget amendments to reorganize several city departments, moving some closer to the mayor's office and renaming others.

Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published January 28, 2014 11:33 AM

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