Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ravenstahl Announces Interdepartmental Merger

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced today a new initiative aimed at consolidating City of Pittsburgh administrative departments by combining the Department of Public Work's Bureau of Environmental Services and The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Referring to legislation to be offered to Council, Mr. Ravenstahl said this administrative move "will save hundreds of dollars for [Pittsburgh] by streamlining similar organizations within the City Government."

When asked which particular aspects of these departments made them suitable for consolidation, the Mayor responded by saying, "Well, you have the Environmental Services Department which deals with garbage and you have PWSA which deals with sewage, so in my mind, it just made sense."

Local pundits on Grant Street see this as a deliberate counter-move to Republican Mayoral Candidate's proposal to merge the City's Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Department of City Planning.

The Mayor dodged questions regarding the purported savings, saying that a full accounting will be released to Council with the legislation.

Department of Public Works Acting Director Guy Costa and PWSA Acting Executive Director Greg Tutsock could not be reached for comment on the proposed merger, but spokespersons for both organizations offered the Mayor "Good luck with that."

Joanna Doven, the Mayor's Communication director said that this would be the first step in a series of mergers which would see not only the PWSA & Environmental Services and the URA and City Planning merged, but also the Department of Finance Merged with CitiParks, Building Inspection Merged with the Law Department, Marshall-Shadeland merged with Overbrook, and Peanut Butter merged with Chocolate.

Duquesne University Law Professor Don Pelligrini, an expert in municipal governance, remarked that the plan seems to be a non-starter.

"It really shows a naiveté of this administration to think that you can just combine different departments willy-nilly. Setting aside the personnel and union issues, you have two very different organizations that do very different things, despite their superficial similarities. It would be just like combining oil and water."

Mr. Ravenstahl sees it differently and has already begun the process to merge the City's fleet fueling depot within PWSA.


Mark Rauterkus said...

What's next? Bio-Diesel?

Anonymous said...

John K.says: I guess he figured out the merger made sense based on smell alone.