Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mayor Announces ADB *Not* Top Administration Official

Imagine waking up in the morning, having the radio alarm switch on, and finding out that you may or may not have been fired. Bleary-eyed you frantically search through last night's news to find any mention of your name. Finding none, you rush to the office to see if your stuff has been neatly packed into a small cardboard box and left for you on the sidewalk to be picked up.

In this case, yours truly was fortunate enough not to be a "top administration official."

Having had all weekend to soak this all in, let's pick up on some of the details:

First, this is the fourth or fifth major administrative shakeup in the last year and a half starting with the initial changeover from the Murphy to the O'Connor Administration, depending on how you're counting. That kind of involuntary turnover doesn't really seem healthy in an organization that's supposed to (in theory) be planning long turn.

Second: timing. As I said above, this story broke late Thursday night to the general public, which indicates that this information was conveyed to the Directors late Thursday afternoon. That seems like odd timing to me for some reason.

More importantly, however, is that the Administration isn't waiting until November to make these changes. Bob O'Connor *refused* to publicly announce any candidates for directorships until after the General Election, at least lending a token nod to the fig leaf of two party government in Pittsburgh. For some reason, the current administration can't wait the 4 1/2 months to get new blood in.

It makes one wonder what the significance of the timing is and what the Administration has in mind going forward that can't wait until November. Indeed, this would seem to indicate that the Mayor's Office wants to be even more involved in the day-to-day policies of the departments. Actually, the only way at this point that they could possibly get more involved would be to come downstairs and do our photocopying for us.

Third: who got the axe. There's been rampant speculation that this mass firing is just a cover for a couple select firings and that most of those canned will be brought back on. Guy Costa seems to be the popular target in this rumor, but he and Parking Authority Executive Director David Onorato are so politically connected that to fire them would seem to be the equivalent of shooting oneself in the foot.

One notable exception left off of nearly every "not fired" list was Housing Authority Executive Director Fulton Meecham, who was appointed in the waning days of the O'Connor Administration.

Fourth: the "National Search for Qualified Candidates". There's two things here (1) the City still has ridiculous numbers of jobs that still have not been filled since the Great Murphy Budget Purge and (2) Qualified National Candidates have difficulty fitting in to Pittsburgh's (admittedly arcane) Political Networks.

Fifth: when the mayor says he's disappointed with the direction of the City, which has led some to state (rather cynically) that the Mayor is not satisfied with the level of toadying. Of course, it's very difficult to ascertain what "direction" the Mayor was hoping to go at this point.

As a bureaucrat, this whole this will be a real pain in the ass: we're used to the quadrennial changes in staff and priorities, but repeated shifts in staff and management just waste a whole lot of time as we desperately try to figure out what the new priorities are and who's now in charge.

Perhaps the cold silence of forced retirement might be a blessing after all.

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