Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mayoral Transition so far a Grand Slam


Most 'Burghers seem enthusiastic over the new leadership and increased civic engagement.

@Toonseum
(The People is the Hulk)

The media has been thrilled over the Transition's repeated, extensive and reflective engagement over the qualifications and the integrating roles of the new suits on 5th Floor North.

Residents and stakeholders are encouraged that they are all highly-qualified, accomplished professionals, successful in public-spirited service and a diverse array (in all but age -- no 20-something whiz kids quite yet).

The New Haters, such as we've seen them, are not raising hackles. Complaints that a few of them presently reside in immediate suburbs are divisive and insipid; grousing that a few of them were officeholders, candidates, public employees or politically active (and sometimes acted in solidarity with the Mayor-Elect and his coalition!) fails to appreciate that the bridge of this ship will need to be run by persons who have been engaged with the local politics and its possibilities. Opposing viewpoints within government appear set to be strongly institutionally encouraged.

Critics do themselves a disservice by missing the forest for the trees. Remember a few weeks ago, when we were writing of biases?

Bill Peduto (politician) on FB


Here is the sum total of everything I knew about Six Sigma:


TVQuotes.net

That is satire; and there's no indication from his tweet that our Mayor-Elect is on the verge of becoming a Six Sigma "Black Belt". But if you want to envelop Peduto in a negative conversation, question the emergence of a City in which so many highly-paid "executives" with porous duties spend their days buzzwording, statistically overanalyzing, indulging consultants and distracting staff with too much of their own Scientology homework.

Yet even that can only get the reactionaries so far. Political success for the new administration will not be determined by insider optics so much as demonstrated results: in service delivery, resource allocation, civic functionality and good outcomes, one and three years out.

Cautionary notes were raised at the Council table today that diverse "faces" do not equal diversity in terms of power or dollars. True enough. But those outcomes depend partially on how well the team works and jells. Maybe our Chief Urban Affairs Officer and our Chief Education and Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer have been appointed to actually perform.

Some of their meetings will be filmed and broadcast, as well as among Departmental directors. That innovation is another cause for optimism.

The naming of an executive team was only the first pincer in a multi-pronged Transition attack. The public invitations to serve on eight transition teams is energizing people even along with the Ideas section of the Talent City initiative. And remember the whole Talent City approach to objective, transparent and rigorous overseeing and screening of job applicants. This all cultivates the optimistic civic mindset necessary to pursue change.

Today in a step that bridges the need to transform government with the reality of our civic challenges, Peduto introduced a measure to allow for the early full-pension retirements of longtime nonunion employees. Everything seems to be ramping quickly up to speed. It's the civic challenges themselves that remain the real issues; there are a lot of turkeys on the table, and we shall need to map them out soon.

BONUS: The best open advice for our Mayor-Elect arrives via Duquesne Student Media. It has been summarily approved.

48 comments:

  1. You should have seen Bill Peduto's Excellent Adventure at the Manor Theater last night. Full house. I'm still trying to process everything Bill laid down. It's almost disconcerting to witness a leading public official being so emotionally open and unguarded, like, you know, a real person. Bill loves funky Nordic architecture, LED light manufacturers and Rocky Horror cross-dressers! He laughs; he cries, he takes road trips around Eastern Europe with Grant Oliphant riding shotgun! Bill loves himself, you and everyone in between! Seriously, it could be catching. At the very least, it's a beautiful honeymoon and I'm not looking forward to the inevitable arguments over recycling, diaper changing and marriage counseling.

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  2. Mysterious Greenfield GuyNovember 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    "And remember the whole Talent City approach to objective, transparent and rigorous overseeing and screening of job applicants."

    That's great. Bill is cleaning house and moving personnel decision making out of the hands of politicos. But at the risk of being "divisive and insipid" (i.e., raising questions) let's not kid ourselves--the oversight and screening committee members are humans too. Just because they are business people and foundation executives doesn't mean that they don't have friends and biases. Names will be printed on resumes and those names will be read and internalized. Or maybe the process is going to be completely anonymized? I guess that's a possibility.

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    1. MG Guy, what you add here is tasty and important. Foundations (Lord knows it) are people too. But the "opening of it up further" seems like an unquestionably solid step.

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  3. In statistics, you usually seek p = .05 or two sigma. Why does politics need four more sigmas?

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  4. If they are successful in moving 132 deadwood employees off of the payroll, how many of the vacancies will get filled? Is this about saving money or just creating room for new hires?

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    1. I wouldn't call them "deadwood" by any means or be expecting all 132 of them to move, but there are surely places where certain skill sets and role allocations could benefit from refreshment. There is a lot of work to do and that will require a staffed government.

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  5. Bram, your concerns about "buzzwords" and catch phrases and corporate jargon (my word, not yours) is exactly the problem. In full disclosure, I am a part time Luke supporter, but always happy Bill was there on council type. The City flourished under Luke. There is simply no denying that. Anyone who does deny it demeans all the hard work that thousands of people put in making that happen. My concern with Bill's team is that they in fact do not have any experience getting actual things done and are instead good foundation type resumes. I hope they prove me wrong and it in fact should be about results and delivery of service. But the fact that everyone is fawning over their resumes and not anything they have actually done scares me. Tony Norman's article was disgusting. How is it "progressive" or "new" to make the lives miserable of board and commission members that don't resign? Lets remember that these people are volunteers. They accepted an appointment to fulfill a term. Why should they resign if that term hasn't expired? More importantly, why is it "progressive" to demand that a volunteer resign from something and if they don't "make their life miserable." If that is what the progressives in this town are in support of, count me out.

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    1. It really depends on the volunteer board member, in my opinion. Why were they appointed? Why do they desire to serve on a board?

      Pittsburgh flourished during the time of Luke's leadership, but the reasons for that are immeasurably complex. Some of it was because of hardworking individuals and teamwork in government. I think an awful lot of it was the table Mayor Murphy set, long-term regional economic trends coming to a head, and the awesomeness of legions of hardworking civilian Pittsburghers.

      Meanwhile, opportunity costs are hard to calculate precisely.

      (By the way, I seem to recall Guy Costa having some relevant experience getting "actual things done." Which of Ravenstahl's mayors office hires are you thinking of in the "management / getting things done" light favorably compared with the new team?)

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    2. I am a part time Luke supporter

      Obamacare means more and more people will be forced into part-time political positions.

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    3. I don't have any idea which board members should stay and which ones should go. I just figure people should serve out the terms they were appointed to serve. If we want that to be different then we should stop appointing people to terms and just make everyone an at will servant and have everyone change over every time there is a new mayor. Is that really what progressives are advocating for? Or, are they really not progressive at all and just using that "buzzword" to keep playing the same old game but with a different face and hope no one notices. You point about Costa is a good one. He has been there before and is part of the machine so how does he exemplify a "new" Pittsburgh. Again, all theatrics that the people will soon catch on too if there isn't any substance.

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  6. How important is the president of city council to the mayors position? I just saw Rev. Ricky say that he wants affirmative action to pick the next prez. of council. I love Councilman Krauss and the fact that he said LGBT should be included also. Do you have odds for council positions? How would Rev. Ricky be with our wonderful new mayor? I personally think that would be a nightmare. Rev is hateful and I remember how mean he was to Bill all those years carrying the boy mayors water.

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    1. I suggest that the council president be selected with an eye toward who would make an acceptable mayor, should anything horrible happen. Because the obvious reason.

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    2. My thoughts on the Council Presidency are unorthodox. I'd rather look at who has the quirky skill sets and temperament to perform that job, and that of Finance Chair, rather than what it implies about Council's comportment towards the mayor.

      I actually like the Rev in Finance Chair quite a bit for his parliamentary skills, but suspect he may be too strategically dynamic for the dais itself. Or for the next President. At the real risk of affixing the Ultimate Kiss of Death, I suspect Kraus has it locked up. I wouldn't mind seeing Kail-Smith as finance chair in the slightest, nor Gilman due to his apprenticeship under Peduto in that position. O'Connor would be fine too. Rudiak is a mountain lion of a representative but seems slightly discombobulated on procedure at times.

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    3. The "Reverend" is putting on public display his own blatant racism to say that the second most important position in the City should be based simply on the color of the skin of the council person. Shame on the Reverend, shame on him.

      Why is this the second most important position in Pittsburgh's government ---- because the person in that position is literally a heartbeat away from being the mayor.

      I would ask the citizen's of Pittsburgh if they are happy with the last time we had a compromise fill that position.

      The leadership position should be built around a true council consensus and demonstrate the ability to bring individuals together --- the Reverend has demonstrated none of these qualities. He uses race and race baiting to support each and every one of his positions and to get more of the Cities precious resources dedicated to his district.

      Now, he is trying to set himself up as the Doug Shields to Mayor-elect Peduto.

      Again, all I can say is ---- shame on you Reverend.

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    4. I just read the news you're referencing and realized I rather blatantly left out Lavelle. Whoopsy daisy. In my opinion he'd also be fine anywhere, but not Mayor. Not at this time.

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    5. "strategically dynamic"

      Priceless! You, sir, are foundation material.

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  7. Lavelle? All he does at meetings is read his phone. Is he a dullard or what? He hides behind Theresa so you can't even see him.

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    1. He's not remotely a dullard. He's just a near-millenial and low-key. Fine choice for finance chair imho.

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    2. All he does at meetings is read his phone.

      That's what I do at meetings. It's really the only thing the justifies to the cost of a data plan.

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    3. Lavelle is actually great - totally involved with his constituent community, very fair-minded, extremely concerned with the health of this City from a uniquely broad perspective. He may not be the kind of councilman that runs his mouth senselessly like Shields or takes dramatic rhetorical spins around the table at meetings...and for that, we should all be thanking him, not calling him a dullard. He makes his constituency his business, and he takes his job and his role with the City very seriously. These things are quickly apparent to anyone who has spoken with him, or listened to him speak publicly, etc. - give a try sometime.

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  8. I must admit that the Reverend's assertion that he or Mr. Lavelle were the only Council members qualified to address the needs of city residents took me aback. Should one who vows to focus more on some communities over the interests of others, or the city as a whole, be considered to oversee all nine districts? Not to add a "hug" to Bram's "kiss of death," but I would say that Kraus has had quite a bit of experience with oppression, in addition to having exhibited enormous and unqualified support for citywide improvement. Mr. Lavelle could prove to be a good choice in time, if he is not on to "bigger and better things."

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    1. gotta luv the liberal crowd that attacks everyone else about racism and equality and diversity, except when it doesn't suit their needs. Now that Burgess is calling for a black council president he is the "racist." This is almost comical how much you guys are twisting and turning to always fit a square peg into a round political hole.

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  9. While Bill is at it, remove Rev. Ricky from the Housing Auth! aren't they under investigation? I would love to see Natalia as prez or finance chair and Kraus as prez.
    I think the Rev is worried about losing his bully pulpit.

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  10. Rev. Burgess is offering his opinion about who should be Council President. I fail to see how that ruffles anyone's feathers, regardless of what that opinion entails. I presume all nine members, and all other onlookers, have their own opinions as well, and can or will express them in due time. And...I will admit that the city appears to have survived the Council Presidencies of Darlene Harris and Doug Shields - I can't see how any present candidates might present more difficulty than either of them. To the extent that the Presidency is actually a meaningful and impactful position, things can only improve, as I see it (opinion).

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  11. There are now 4 women on council. One of them should be president. Go Natalia!!

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    1. Natalia should definitely be strongly considered.

      She has experience of leading both in the public and the private sector.

      Great candidate!

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    2. Natalia leading in the private sector? What the heck are you talking about? Seriously, we can debate policy, but where do you people come up with these whacky things. She, like Bill, are career politicians. Seriously, what did she ever do in the private sector? And don't say, "after college she worked for 6 months at Enterprise rental car."

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  12. Uh oh. I just felt a jolt of electricity up my spine ... Corey O'Connor is going to be the compromise council president choice. Halfway through his first year in office Peduto will mysteriously disappear, turning up in the arms of a Bratislavian lover and elevating Corey to mayor-for-life.

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  13. Compromise Corey actually looks plausible. He has no enemies or clear allegiances. It's Harris/Kail-Smith/Lavalle/Burgess against Kraus/Rudiak/Gilman/Gross. Would Corey open his own door by abstaining, or will he play ball with Bill ad go for Kraus? Of course, Corey as president could also work for Bill. Will history repeat itself?

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    1. He has done nothing in council to demonstrate that he is remotely qualified for the presidency

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    2. Smith might not be as much of a lock as you assume.

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  14. Corey is cute, but either he wants to be every ones BFF or he clueless. I can't remember an original thought. He wants to be all things to all people, but he needs to step up and act grown up. This cutsie stuff will not play when the knives come out in council. The back stabbing will get vicious and he will either stand with Ricky (who bashes Sq. Hill as being rich) as if the tax payers are evil or Kraus who is level headed and wants the best for everyone. District 9 is awash with totally new everything. To say they are underserve is disingenuous. How much is enough already?
    This ain't high school sports. This is the Biggs.

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  15. Corey is a perfectly fine rep for the district he serves, eager to do what needs to be done and not so easy to push around as it would appear. He also was one of Gross' numerous political endorsers

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  16. Perfectly fine and eager, oh my!

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  17. "He has done nothing in council to demonstrate that he is remotely qualified for the presidency" ... that also described Luke at the same juncture in his council career, and look what happened.

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  18. Bill won't accept Corey. He's too close to Lamb.

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    1. This bickering is pointless. Corey can't get five votes for President at this time owing to boyishness, nor can several others. The contest is obviously between Harris, Kraus and Kail-Smith, which one better suits TKS's sense of style and purpose.

      I will say it seemed as though few were enthused at the prospect of Mayor Harris this summer, but maybe Peduto looks immortal.

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    2. Harris is even closer to Lamb. Next?

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  19. So you're saying the Rev is out?

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    1. I'm speculating that he can't get to five. His temperament is of a sort that many who might vote for him, would first vote for Harris.

      It occurs to me suddenly that Theresa Kail-Smith deserves a seat on the URA board. Bruce Kraus hasn't served on an authority board since he arrived at Council in '07, so he could replace Kail-Smith on Alcosan. Lavelle could take the SEA, why not? Just spit balling here.

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    2. Gilman, you take PWSA. Work the groin. Gross, take Parking. Man coverage on Linda Judson. Burgess is fine at Housing but for its new chair, we'll see if the Talent City performs...

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  20. Why is Burgess "fine at housing"? They are under fed. investigations and won't even cooperate.
    Bram, you drink his Kool-Aid.

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  21. Corey and Lamb are close? That's interesting. I rarely see them together, except on St. Patrick's Day. But maybe that's the tell. It makes sense in a Greenfield Mafia kind of way.

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    1. Does that also explain why it takes over six months to turn Lamb's mayoral campaign HQ into a coffee place?

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  22. There are so many discreet/lawful requirements that the new Mayor and transitioning team is unaware of. Who among us is aware that per his contract, if Caster Binion (HACP) gets taken off the job he would be paid close to 0.5 M to vacate his position. Again - is anyone aware that the city does not pay relocation costs or travel reimbursement costs for job hiring purposes to its prospective employee - I am guessing that the foundations will take care of that. On another, there are no other perks - besides health insurance, the city does not pick up the tab for professional memberships - as that comes out of pocket. Has anyone even benchmark-ed what other cities are paying their employees - I have to tell you that we are nowhere close to what the market is paying out there. Now if you refer to non-profit organizations in Pittsburgh funded by the foundations - that is a different story. I was informed that the Exec. Dir. of Riverlife gets paid 180K annually. The Exec Director of the Design Center probably gets paid around that as well.

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    1. If I were to travel at near the speed of light and then return to Pittsburgh, it might seem to me that only a couple of years have passed, but Bill Peduto would have aged thirty years. Has the transition team accounted for that?

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