Fitzgerald wants Authorities on Same Page w/ The People

We ought to recognize this might seem like a good idea

On Wednesday, Mr. Fitzgerald released the more than 40 resignation letters he has collected from appointees to boards and authorities, which are legally independent from the county. The executive says the letters are a pact between appointees and county government, an understanding that he and county council sets policy, not authority members.

If a board member goes rogue, he’ll pull out the resignation, Mr. Fitzgerald said. (P-G, Andrew McGill)

… if I was County Executive. People ought to be cognizant that this blogger, if elected, would never do anything wrong with that leverage; it would never be my intention to micromanage above my pay grade, or to deprive anyone else their input or creativity, or pursue my own electoral-political agenda within the Authorities.

I would simply make sure these Authorities are fundamentally on the same page — in terms of vision and strategy — as the mandate of the popularly elected officials in charge of County government. That would not be unreasonable in the slightest.

It probably still wouldn’t be a great idea though. People would grow skeptical of me no matter what. Maybe there is a more collaborative way to accomplish the same basic goal.

14 thoughts on “Fitzgerald wants Authorities on Same Page w/ The People

  1. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 10:38 – I was thinking Politics: working out differences with board members from other factions using reason, good will, charm, and if necessary threats of public showdowns and righteous public embarrassment, all with the aid of the press and your popular mandate as well as your other power strengthening those negotiations. Not as efficient but not as uncomfortably tyrannical. Do it well for long enough and try for good government purposes to get the Authority bylaws changed to at-will board members with Council confirmation necessary for midterm dismissals.

  2. Anonymous

    If Fitz had a vision people could buy into he would not need to get resignation letters. This is political hackery at its finest.

  3. Anonymous

    I feel sorry for the people who are willing to serve for the good of the County, who are experts in their fields, and who are being demeaned in this way. We did not elect a King. The Allegheny County Council needs to stand up and put a stop to this.

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    It's not a formula for good collaboration, it doesn't sound like. But I don't think it's “demeaning”, let's not get dramatic. It's silly of government, but no skin off the volunteer's noses.

    I'm not sure why they don't just refuse to write the letters or write them, and vote how they want in either event, and argue with the County Exec and let the chips fall where they may. These aren't paid positions. Democracy it up.

  5. Mark Rauterkus


    If I am elected, I will do, or try to do, two things that up your pledge.

    First, I will liquidate all the authorities. Those letters of resignation get changed to termination.

    Second, if we can't liquidate quicker than a few dozen heart beats, I would set up Authority Board Member Retention Votes for the citizens to vote upon. Those who get the appointment would have to face the voters approval.

  6. Anonymous

    Mark, I agree 100%. The money is too big, too many private agenda's, too much personal gain and a lack of trust and transparecy. The number of board's that some people sit on is outragous. Take Rev Burgess, City Housing (prez)budget 100 million alone, CCAC, Health Dept, those are just the ones I know of. I say just one board at a time for starters.
    What is the monetary reward? Without disclosure and oversite this is out of control. I'm sick of it! I'm glad that Rich is paying attention.

  7. flybylight

    Yes, what Mark says! Doing away with Authorities is the best idea.

    Our current Mayor has been known to shift folks around – including Council members – on boards too often. He also sometimes takes another tack in this matter – he allows terms to expire, does not appoint replacements, then the members know that they can be knocked out at a moment's notice so they must comply with what the Mayor wishes.

  8. Anonymous

    Bram, this is the biggest piece of hypocrisy you have ever written and now makes is clear you have no desire for good government. The best way to have the authorities “work for the people” is to let their members made independent, unbiased decisions free from arm twisting from elected officials. If any politician has a hard time finding people that fit his vision and carry out his policy directives, maybe that person needs to make some more friends. Authorities were set up for the very purpose of being independent and for the very purpose of having some isolation from politicians. We don't necessarily want independent authorities changing their philosophy every four years. They are long standing institutions that carry our proprietary like functions. Besides, anytime i hear someone say “the will of the people” i get nervous. What people is Fitz referring to? How does he know “what the people” want? He doesn't. All he knows is what he wants and he doesn't want to let any appointee make his/her independent and transparent assessment of a particular issue. Besides, the freaggin law requires these authorities to be independent and for appointees to serve out a fixed term. I am amazed that you think it is ok to circumvent the law and still be “progressive” or “ok” or “for the will of the people.” Hogwash. If you want change the system then do what flybylight suggests and just do away with them, but stop defending this corrupt practice.

  9. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 1:19 – Actually that sounds awful. These authorities have to cooperate with the city, with each other and with other governments. Do you want the URA and City Planning at odds? PWSA and Public Works? The SEA doing its own thing counter to MovePGH?

    I see Authority members there to bring special expertise and to mind and vouchsafe for the creditworthiness of their institutions. They do have an important role and will make most decisions on their own, but it is not totally “independent”, it is interdependent, and dependent on accountability to units of government to retain their moral legitimacy. And it makes a heck of a lot more sense for them to reconcile with elected officials when it comes to goals if not strategy, and strategy wherever possible.

  10. Mark Rauterkus

    The authorities cooperated with each other and we had lots of cash from the water and sewer authority helping to land the stadiums which were voted against by the people.

    Cooperation like that, …. No thanks.

    So, three people agree with me, sorta, …. Bow wow. Dog has day in sun.

  11. Anonymous

    typical l word twisting to meet ones needs. You act like being independent and cooperating are mutually exclusive. But yes, sometimes I do want URA and City Planning at odds. I would hope that most often they are working together, but if URA does something isn't right or in line with the law that City Planning would make a correction. Guess what, PWSA is often at odds with public works. Ask any developer. Maybe the fact that PWSA is a jobs program is part of the problem. I'm not suggesting we actually do have viable independent entities, PWSA case in point. Perhaps though if actually worked towards that goal rather than the rationalization of the Fitz way we could make things better. Again though you act like being “totally independent” means you can never reconcile with elected officials. I would like to see more elected officials show up and take an affirmative position on issues in front of the authorities. Kinda like Ravenstahl did on the parking issue at the PA. If the elected official can't find people that generally share his/her philosophy, then that is the problem of that official. It isn't hard to find a few qualified people who share you vision. If people go against you on key issues then don't reappoint them. If they can must up a majority of board members against your position, maybe it wasn't a good position after all? Just a thought.

  12. Bram Reichbaum

    Did you miss the part where I wrote I don't think Fitzgerald should be doing this? Maybe it was too subtle.

    But what you write doesn't make sense for board members serving out the terms of past executive's appointments. At this rate, Onorato's crowd can boycott Fitzgerald for the first 3 years of his term.

  13. Anonymous

    Uh, Bram, that is the freaggin reason for staggered appointments! The very reason that was written into the code was so that one politician can't win an election and come in an clear house. Kind of like staggered terms on Federal Boards and commissions. Again, if you don't like the policy or “will of the people when they wrote the law” then change the law. Don't engage in underhanded back door tactics. Looks like Fitz finally realized he was wrong.


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