O'Connor plans to do his duty

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Mayor Bob O'Connor has no plans to appoint an acting mayor because of his illness, and his doctors said yesterday that he should be able to continue working during his course of chemotherapy.

The Pittsburgh home-rule charter outlines procedures for such an appointment, but does not require one.

Section 207 of the charter states that in the event of absence from the city, or temporary disability, the mayor may designate a deputy, or acting mayor, from among his "non-elected major administrative unit head[s]," by notifying City Council. That makes the major department heads eligible to wield virtually all of the mayor's normal powers, except for hiring and firing.

Mr. O'Connor has routinely given that designation to his solicitor, Susan Malie, when he was traveling.

During the administration of the late Mayor Richard Caliguiri, Dan Pellegrini, then his solicitor, now a Commonwealth Court judge, routinely served as deputy mayor when Mr. Caliguiri was out of the city.

The procedures are different if a mayor dies in office or otherwise gives up the position. Then, the president of City Council normally assumes the office of mayor and must resign his or her seat on council. That's what occurred when Mr. Caliguiri died from the rare disease amyloidosis and when Pete Flaherty took a job with the U.S. Justice Department.

If, however, the council president did not accept the office, for whatever reason, a majority of council could appoint any adult resident of the city to serve as successor until the next election.

Politics Editor James O'Toole can be reached at jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.


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