Rubber stamps: Fitzgerald should treat appointees like grown-ups

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County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has made his position clear: He wants a bunch of yes men (and women) on the various advisory boards and authorities that operate in tandem with county government.

Mr. Fitzgerald's policy of requiring his appointees to sign undated resignation letters before beginning their service is good for the county executive; it pretty much guarantees that he'll have veto power over any decisions that his designees make. Displeasing the executive could trigger their "resignation."

Mr. Fitzgerald has not applied this policy judiciously either. He's collected more than 40 of the undated resignation letters in the last two years, which means he can remove members at will, regardless of any specified term of office that comes with the appointment.

That's not good for the residents of Allegheny County.

In most instances, the boards and authorities are legally independent, and they've been established to provide a layer of oversight that otherwise would not be present. If board members simply follow Mr. Fitzgerald's orders, that won't happen. The members are then just rubber stamps.

Mr. Fitzgerald's overkill isn't necessary. After all, the process of selecting citizens to serve on boards and authorities already is stacked in the executive's favor. In most cases, he selects the nominees, who then must be approved by county council. The system practically guarantees that only individuals whose views align with his will be chosen.

Once those individuals are in office, however, they need to have a modicum of independence. Mr. Fitzgerald, unfortunately, doesn't see it that way.

The voters of Allegheny County have entrusted Rich Fitzgerald with a great deal of authority by electing him. He should have the same faith in the people he nominates to serve their fellow citizens.

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