Peduto picks four to head Pittsburgh bureaus


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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced his choices for the heads of four city departments Wednesday, a group he touted as being potential change makers.

His picks to lead the Bureau of Building Inspections, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Personnel and Civil Service, and the Office of Municipal Investigation must be approved by City Council. All of the candidates were selected through Talent City, a foundation-backed initiative meant to take the politics out of hiring by using outside committees to vet candidates and select finalists.

In addition, although it hasn't been formally announced, Timothy McNulty, a former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter who has worked for the newspaper since 1996, is expected to be named the mayor's spokesman.

Maura Kennedy, who currently works for the city of Philadelphia, was selected by the mayor to head Building Inspections, a bureau that has been criticized for being technologically out-of-date, unwieldy and paper-driven. In Philadelphia, Ms. Kennedy, 32, modernized the Department of Licenses and Inspections and started the Vacant Property Strategy, an award-winning program that aimed to reduced vacant properties.

"What we were looking for there was somebody who could really utilize technology to make our permitting systems easier to use," Mr. Peduto said.

Ms. Kennedy, if confirmed, would earn $100,889 and replace acting chief John Jennings.

A former University of Pittsburgh police officer, Deborah Walker, 59, was nominated to manage the Office of Municipal Investigations, a unit that investigates complaints against city employees, including police officers. Her predecessor, Kathy Kraus, was terminated Wednesday.

Ms. Walker, who will earn $74,775, formerly chaired the Citizen Police Review Board, an independent agency charged with investigating complaints against police. Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the board, said she hopes Ms. Walker will be able to bridge the gap between OMI and the board, which, despite sharing similar goals, have not worked together well.

"I certainly hope there would be more information shared and more collegial without compromising the independence of the board," she said.

James Griffin was tapped by the mayor to head Parks and Recreation because of his familiarity with the parks in his current job managing projects for the Parks Conservancy. If confirmed, he will be paid $96,410.

Mr. Griffin, 47, would replace acting director Louann Horan, who has served in that role since the former director retired last year and will become a fiscal manager for the department.

Todd Siegel is the sole candidate announced Wednesday to come from within the city's ranks. Mr. Siegel, 52, nominated to head Personnel and Civil Service, was an assistant director there. He will head the department in an acting capacity until he is confirmed and be paid $96,410.

His predecessor, Judy Hill-Finnegan, recently retired, taking advantage of a buyout that was proposed by the Peduto administration.

The candidates

James Griffin, 47, Squirrel Hill, nominated to be director of the Department of Parks and Recreation

Mr. Griffin is director of facilities for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, an organization that has partnered with the city on numerous projects related to the parks, including restoration of Frick and Schenley parks. In his role, he oversees all of the conservancy's projects. Mr. Griffin, who holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, has worked at IBM, PriceWaterhouseCooper and as the chief technology officer for the Marianas Islands Public Health Department.

Mayor Bill Peduto cited his "detailed knowledge of parks" in nominating him for the role.

Maura Kennedy, 32, nominated to be chief of the Bureau of Building Inspection

Ms. Kennedy is the executive director of development services in the Department of Licenses and Inspections for the city of Philadelphia, a role she was promoted to in July. Prior to that, she directed that city's Vacant Property Strategy, a program that sought to reduce the number of vacant properties through strengthening private property maintenance standards. She holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in government and got her start in Philadelphia as Mayor Michael Nutter's deputy press secretary.

Todd Siegel, 52, of Greenfield, nominated to be director of Personnel and Civil Service

Mr. Siegel was the assistant director of the department he has been nominated to lead and has worked for the city's human resources department since 1989. He holds a master's degree in public management from Carnegie Mellon University and a master's degree in information science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Deborah Walker, 59, of Allentown, nominated to be manager of the Office of Municipal Investigations

Ms. Walker is a retired police officer at the University of Pittsburgh, where she also served as a student conduct officer. She previously served on the city's Citizen Police Review Board, which she also chaired. She left the board in July 2012. She holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and legal studies and a master's in public policy and management from the University of Pittsburgh. She also is an adjunct professor at Point Park University and Pitt.


Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Twitter: @pgtraffic.

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