Friday, June 15, 2007

The Mayor, again, damnit...

I wanted to talk about how the PG and the New York Times both had a similar article about a non-national news story (health care in Pennsylvania and a new report), and I wanted to talk about my recent experiences with and impressions of hospitals. Then the Mayor went and fired everyone and wants to spend money willy-nilly. This is way more important than trying to spoil the surprise of some AmEx card holders who have time and cash to burn on a Monday (SPOILER ALERT !!!! Tiger Woods was there).

So the Mayor suddenly decides the city is not doing so good, although he apparently doesn’t want to blame any one person. In fact, two of the most important departments are doing quite well apparently: Police and Budget. Because of the wisdom the Mayor has shown in appointments to those two positions, crime is down and the city’s finances are going swimmingly.

So the Mayor suddenly decides the city is not doing so good, and decided to exercise his right as Mayor to ask for the resignation of those people he didn’t appoint. Because June 15 is a significant time in the Mayor’s administration. He’s just been … well, he won the primary. It’s not as though he’s opposed … well, a republican couldn’t possibly win. Let’s just pretend that something new is starting. After all, although Council needs to approve the Mayor’s choices for department and authority heads, it’s not as though the general election or next January will bring any changes to Council …

So the Mayor suddenly decides the city is not doing so good, and he wants his directors to submit their resignations. But they can apply for their current jobs. I wonder if the chaps named Costa and Onorato will keep jobs, or even get new, more prestigious posts? Meanwhile, the Mayor wants a national search for new directors. I gather he *might* have a time limit of ninety days. That’s possibly a practical limit anyway. Good thing the Mayor didn’t fire his personnel director. I know nothing about Barbara Trant. Possibly very qualified. How many national searches has she conducted? How many times has she conducted 10 simultaneous national searches? Will the city use headhunters to save time? Will the city use job postings? How far and wide will the net be cast? And of course, since the decision is ultimately the Mayor’s, how many times has he evaluated 10 times the number of candidates that make the cut people for 10 different jobs.

Presidents do this, when they take office. Governors do it. Of course, they have transition teams. The Mayor has money in his campaign fund. Is this what he is going to use? Has he consulted the two Act 47 teams about this move and how it will be paid for?

The likelihood is that the Mayor wants to and will appoint some minorities to several of these positions. They will likely be from Pittsburgh or close by. This Mayor is almost painfully earnest, he really seems to want to do the right thing. But he doesn’t have the experience to know what the right thing is, and he doesn’t seem to be seeking advice (admittedly I’m not sure who he should ask, but I’ll bet some Pitt professors would jump at the chance). There has been buzz on how good Yarone Zober is, I really have no idea. He’s what, about four years older than Luke, may six, seven? Well educated, better than Bill Peduto. But Peduto might have ten years on Yarone, all of it in politics (and besides the age difference, there the time spent in politics while Yarone was getting educated). But the timing is odd on this move and it is a slap in the face of the three democrats who defeated incumbents in the primary.


Char said...

I'm with you, Ed. We're caught in some weird space-time-Ravenstahl continuum where every day is the same day. A bizarre Ravenstahl news day. I wish it would end.

EdHeath said...

Yeah. I'm still kind of seething about this latest. I mean, yeah, Mayor's do this when they come in, but they have transition teams, and its expected, the department heads of the last Mayor expect it. This can't be good for morale.

And I more than half way think the Mayor is using the term "national search" because he thinks it sounds cool.

What are the metrics the Mayor is using to evaluate the condition of the city to justify this move? He says its not changing enough, not fast enough. He's not sure the current department heads are doing "everything" they can to move the city forward (drink), to move the city in the "right" direction (barf?). It’s like that Cat Stevens song, Father and Son. The kid is just running around saying things aren't changing fast enough. (expletive deleted for fear of offending devout Christians), the city’s broke! There’s very little we can do. And we need experienced people in those seats to do the very little.

I mean, yes, we might clean out some corruption, got to admit it. But now, instead of one or a few guys getting on the job training on our backs, everybody will be getting the on the job training. They will all be learning why things are done the way they are done, as more residents get pissed off because the government is not responding to their requests or needs.

C’mon Mayor. Turn the 311 line into a non-emergency response line. Address the pension issue. Investigate ways of cooperating with the county on finances. You can do this stuff yourself or you could have ordered one of the ten fossils you just asked for letters of resignation from to do it. The amount of *practical* new ideas that will come from inexperienced outsiders may be pretty limited. And you have new blood coming onto City Council. Couldn’t you wait a few months for that?

Paul Burr said...

I think the mayor did this so he could offer Mr. DeSantis a job. He did something similar when he thought Mayor Bob O'Conner's son might run for mayor. After hearing the eulogy he delivered at his father's funeral he gave him a job "Ridding Up Pittsburgh" (I'm just joking)