65 employees take Pittsburgh's buyout offer

A buyout program designed by Mayor Bill Peduto spurred the retirement of 65 city employees on Friday, a move that has left vacancies in his administration but also will save the city money, he said.

Mr. Peduto also announced the appointment or nomination of 45 people to 11 boards, authorities and commissions that oversee the city's parking, stadiums, public housing and the water and sewer authority.

The deadline to sign up for the program, which offered longtime nonunion employees a payout to retire early, was Friday. Some of those who took advantage of the program did so voluntarily. But others already have been terminated or faced termination, either because their job was eliminated by the budget or because someone else had been hired to replace them.

John Jennings, the acting chief of the Bureau of Building Inspections, was among those who took the buyout. His departure means that Mr. Peduto's pick for the position, Maura Kennedy, started Monday in an acting capacity.

The nomination of Ms. Kennedy, who previously headed up the Bureau of Licensing and Inspection in Philadelphia, has troubled some. Though she comes to Pittsburgh with high marks for modernizing the bureau in Philadelphia, she fails to meet the minimum qualifications spelled out in the job description. She is neither a certified architect nor an engineer, and she lacks certification as a building code officer.

Ms. Kennedy was one of the finalists selected by Talent City, an initiative funded and organized by the Pittsburgh Foundation and other foundations intended to encourage merit-based hiring by using outside committees to vet candidates and select finalists for top city jobs.

"That's part of what I'm looking for, to see why her name was submitted, to see why the administration thought she was a good candidate," Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said. City council will have to vote to confirm Ms. Kennedy.

But Ms. Kennedy said she plans to take the building code certification exam the next time it's offered by the state, in May. She pointed out that state law doesn't require the head of a buildings organization to be certified.

She said she hopes to bring the same aggressive code enforcement program she designed in Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, one that has been lauded for reducing blight in the city.

"Blight has a tremendous impact on our community and really correlates with other negative impacts," she said.

The mayor's appointments to boards and authorities will mean that some can restart voting board meetings. Several -- including the water and sewer and the parking authorities -- canceled February meetings because Mr. Peduto had asked all mayoral appointees to resign in mid-January.

Those who applied for board positions weren't put through the wringer like job candidates were. Instead, the board positions were posted on the Talent City website and application materials were forwarded to the mayor, who made his picks after consulting "with stakeholder groups," according to a statement.

Mr. Peduto said around a quarter of those nominated or appointed are African-American and around half are women.

His selections included three Pittsburgh City Council members. Councilman Corey O'Connor will serve on the Alcosan board, Councilman Dan Gilman on the Sports and Exhibition Authority and Councilwoman Deb Gross on the water and sewer authority board. Chief administration officer Debbie Lestitian also will serve on the PWSA board.


Here is a full list of the appointees and nominations :

ALCOSAN: Brenda Smith, Councilman Corey O’Connor, Greg Jones, Sylvia Wilson

Allegheny Regional Asset District: Sylvia Fields, Don Linzer

Planning Commission: Paul Gitnik, Esq., Fred Brown, Barb Valaw, Jennifer Askey, Christine Mondor, John Paul Jones, Lucy Spruill, LaShawn Burton-Faulk

Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh: Enid Miller, Lara Washington, Peter Robert Kaplan, Leroy Morgan, Lena Andrews

Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh: Jeff Cohen, Loralyn Fabian, Aradhna Oliphant, Cathy Qureshi

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority: Debbie Lestitian, Esq., Councilwoman Deborah Gross, Andrea Geraghty, Esq., Caren Glotfelty, Margaret Lanier, Alex Thomson

Sports and Exhibition Authority: Councilman Dan Gilman, the Rev. John Welch, Jill Weimer

Stadium Authority: Stanley Lederman, Esq., Jay Anderko, Jim Malanos

Urban Redevelopment Authority: Kevin Acklin, Esq., state Rep. Ed Gainey, Cheryl Hall Russell

Zoning Board of Adjustment: J.J. Richardson, Esq., Alice Mitinger, Lashawn Burton-Faulk

Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission: Mayor William Peduto, state Rep. Erin Molchany, Scott Bricker, Mavis Rainey

Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published March 17, 2014 3:03 PM

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