Help wanted: It’s time for Mayor Peduto to fill key positions

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Nobody’s going to accuse Bill Peduto of sitting down on the job. His first four months as mayor of Pittsburgh have been characterized by near-constant motion, and he has moved the city forward on important tracks.

Now, though, he needs to slow down long enough to fill several key positions in his administration — police chief, public safety director and heads for the finance department and the office of management and budget.

Long before he took office, Mr. Peduto knew he was going to need a new police chief — former chief Nate Harper was convicted of helping himself to city funds — and that, ideally, a permanent public safety director would be on board to help select the chief.

It hasn’t been easy. The mayor’s first two choices turned down offers, and he now is reviewing a handful of candidates culled from 160 applicants by Talent City, a foundation-backed effort that uses outside professionals to screen people, with the goal of removing politics and ensuring quality in hiring.

Acting director Michael Huss has made no secret of the fact that he would like to have the appointment. During his tenure in the job for the Luke Ravenstahl administration, Mr. Huss gained a reputation as a man among boys. Whether he is the best choice available is for Mr. Peduto to say.

The mayor needs to end the state of limbo as soon as possible. The vacancy at the top of the department that includes police, fire and emergency medical services creates a trickle-down of trouble, particularly with a caretaker administration of acting police chief Regina McDonald presiding over a bureau left in turmoil by her predecessor.

When he was campaigning for the office of mayor, Mr. Peduto identified as a potential weakness his tendency to do everything himself. After four months, it is apparent that he needs a permanent core of administrators on board if he is to accomplish all he has planned. It’s time to choose, starting with his public safety director.

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