Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Water Polo, or Resistance is What Now?

There's a lot going on down below with our pipes, but I just had a quick and honest question over one facet:

[PWSA] Board Chairman Dan Deasy, who serves as a Democratic state representative from Westwood, said he plans to meet with board members next week to hear their preferences. Deasy, though, said he is leaning toward hiring a management firm as a short-term solution.

"Our No. 1 focus this year will be the executive-director search or a management firm, whatever that might be," he said. (Trib, Team Effort; Jan 14th)

Are there any management firms which run municipal water authorities aside from Resource Development Management, or RDM? It does not seem like a commonplace enterprise.

Those are the folks who conducted the blistering audit at PWSA's behest (well, the audit was at its behest, maybe not the blistering) and has also been noted as part of the present "in-network" of governmental contractors in the region. If PWSA elects to go the route of a management firm, obviously there will be an extensive process, but I'm just wondering if there is actually much competition in that obscure-seeming business sector.


  1. In case the whole thing fails, some of us have a Plan B.

  2. Speaking of sanitation, can you only get fines like this in the parts of Oakland that are nearly Shadyside or could somebody swing through and try to get the kids to use trash bags in the parts of Oakland around Blvd. of the Allies?

  3. Why in the world would any competent person ever take the PWSA job? They wouldn't. The place is a disaster and that is the fault of the board. The problem is structural and systemic. What the board isn't telling you is that their incompetence is the reason they have to go the management firm route because no one wants that job. Would you step into a hornets nest knowing that your every move would be criticized by board members, council members and the press?

    My guess - RDM doesn't want that gig either. PWSA is in big trouble folks. Get used to it.

  4. That doesn't seem to fit. All local authorities have incompetent boards as well as systemic and structural problems.

  5. @MH i agree with you on the filth. a firend of mine was sited by Building Inspection for some leaves on her steps. Seriously just leaves. i actually took pictures. Meanwhile Ward and Semple look like open garbage pits!! btw Ricciardi's a diva anything for attention!

  6. That part of Oakland is also where the PWSA or somebody has spent a great deal of time digging the same smallish holes.

  7. Anon 9:05 - That was part of the reason I was sort of like, well, maybe privatization wouldn't be all bad here? But I guess those rumors have been put to rest. The pension fund made a few million last quarter, it must be out of the woods right?

    I'm not sure what you mean by, "The problem is structural and systemic," only to highlight the "incompetence" of the board. Not contradicting you but would like to hear more; poor leadership isn't a "structural" problem under most definitions. You'd figure in this economy, for a six-figure salary, somebody with thick skin would "want the job" no matter the grief. Make some tough choices for a couple of years, then pull a Roosevelt once you've exhausted your executive capital. "I've set them on the right track".

  8. Unless by criticizing "board members, council members and the press" you're basically criticizing Councilman Dowd as the ringleader of all three. To hear him and a few others describe it, he's the only thing standing between Pittsburgh and an avalanche of poop and concrete. Of course it could all be grandstanding.

  9. Im not just criticizing Dowd. He certainly isn't helping though. The systemic problems run very deep at PWSA. From top down and down up. They don't like outsiders making changes. In order for anyone to make real change they would surely take a lot of flak. While most people think a six figure salary is with whatever flak is to be absorbed, anyone that is competent is already making that kind of money. Why would they throw away their career? Roosevelt is a great example though Bram. He had a board that was completely behind him and behind the scenes they knew that if they didn't back him he would skip town. The board knew the importance of the mission and were not going to sell him down the river for petty politics. In the end, I think Dowd is probably right about many of the problems at PWSA, but if you were a professional would you go work for him? Seriously, just think about it. If you were making six figures at some rural water authority, private company or another metro area, would you come here? Not a chance. It isn't about thick skin it is about being able to accomplish things and advance your career. Motivated people like to do a good job and advance the ball. As someone pointed out earlier, there are only so many people in this industry and they all know each. Mickey Kenney is going to know the guys at the insurance program and the next water system down the river. And the next guy down the river knows the next. Good companies don't attract top talent with acrimony and finger pointing. Down expect any big changes anytime soon, especially when prospective board members are told they can't serve if they dare to even have a brain and consider all options.

  10. Anon you write:

    "The systemic problems run very deep at PWSA. From top down and down up. They don't like outsiders making changes."

    Well this makes it sound quite bad. :(

    At least in the absence of specifics about the nature of "systemic problems".

    But anyway, investing in a real national search? A world-wide search? Market the position for a few months, sell glossy ads in The Economist. Hire someone from Pakistan, from Iran, the bright middle managers there can't be too comfortable and are probably super-educated and fixing to get on the winning team. The problem is if these systemic problems are really prevalent throughout the board, in which case well, once again, some clues please.

  11. The glossy classified ad the Economist ITSELF can double as an advertisement for Pittsburgh.

    We just need a liiiitle help with our water situation. Because of our BEAUTIFUL RIVERS and TOPOGRAPHY and BOOMING DEVELOPMENT AND PROSPERITY.

  12. Fueled by the natural gas explosion (bad phrasing) brought about by the Marcellus Shale and rich, deep Utica Shale underneath. You can write whatever you want. CAN WE ADVERTISE THIS POSITION / MANAGEMENT CONTRACT IN THE ECONOMIST??? ECONOMIST IS BEST MAGAZINE.


  13. What's up with the mention of Water Polo?

    Anyone want to play water polo, go to Facebook and sign-up for the open group, "Pittsburgh Schenley Waterpolo."

    We are looking for players all the time. We'll have more than 200 playing this summer -- in the hill district.