Rich Lord in the Post-Gazette today:
Two years of tumult and austerity have prompted a flight of professionals from Pittsburgh government.Of course, Mr. Lord has only hit the nub of the story. The truth is so much more dire.
Nowhere is that clearer than in the Law Department, where recent resignations of three attorneys leave the city's courtroom pugilists depleted even as newcomers learn the ropes. Other departments, including Public Works and the Office of Municipal Investigations, are also short on professional staff, with effects that are being felt on the streets of Pittsburgh...
Professional staffing "is an issue that's not singular to the Law Department," said Mr. Ravenstahl. "It's an issue that government faces. When you talk about finding qualified professionals to do these jobs -- whether it's directors or just everyday, average employees -- because the public sector certainly pays less than the private sector, it is a challenge."
Since its 2003 designation as a distressed municipality, the city's white-collar work force has been subjected to hiring freezes, wage freezes and erosion of benefits.
The Planning Department has had a hard time replacing losses like Zoning Administrator Jeremy Smith, who went to the Riverlife Task Force.
The Finance Department has lost at least three high-level professionals in the past year.
The Office of Municipal Investigations, which looks into accusations of misconduct by city workers, has seven investigator positions in the budget, but only five people to fill them.
In reality, out side of the fairly well staffed mayor's office, there are, in fact, only 5 employees in all of the City of Pittsburgh. Oh sure, you'll see people going into the City-County Building and those people may say that they "work for the City," but they don't.
Back during the filming of "The Mothman Prophecy" the Murphy administration actually began to invest part of the City payroll in Hollywood extras because of a strange quirk in state pension laws that cover employees and not retirees.
That and no one could actually tell the difference between the extras and the employees.
There are also phantom employees in the City, but these are mostly the people that are blamed for the screw ups. Something goes wrong, they blame it on Frank Golemkowski... who works in DPW... he's 50ish... graying hair... three kids... nice wife.
Anyway, if you can find him, it's all his fault. 'Cept he doesn't exist.
And finally, there are those employees that are just illusions, like the Loch Ness Monster.
Seriously, with low pay, poor benefits, little job advancement, rapidly changing goals, and fickle politics, who would ever actually *want* to work for the local government? Answer: No One. Ergo, any municipal employee you may meet is just a figment of your deranged imagination.
Which is, to be fair, far better than all the contractors that staff the County.