PittsburghJack's Place: Luke, Regan, Skrinjar, Zober, Cassidy, Leger And Company: Part 501


PittsburghJack's Place

an outlet for political animals to share news, views and expose truths.

Luke, Regan, Skrinjar, Zober, Cassidy, Leger And Company: Part 501

OK. I am writing what I hope is the final word on this subject, but being realistic, and reading the many Pittsburgh Blogosphere postings, I know this probably won't be the case. Really, folks, this subject is getting way more attention than it deserves. I believe there are truly many more important things to discuss that will have a genuine impact on our wonderful city.

The first issue I would like to address is the proper etiquitte in replacing a mayoral staff and appointees during a transition due to the death of the mayor. There seem to be many out there who are blasting Mayor Ravenstahl for retaining Skrinjar, Cassidy, Zober, Lynch and Regan (did I miss anyone?) on staff when he assumed the mayor's seat following O'Connor's death. It is my contention that at some point, Luke should bring in his own people. But at what point should this have been done? Before O'Connor's body was buried or after a short transition? Or only after the O'Connor holdover is involved in a scandal? And should only those on the personal mayoral staff be replaced? I've heard no outrage over Luke's keeping Guy Costa in General Services, George Specter in the Law Department or Kevin Quigley of the Redd-up Pittsburgh campaign, for instance. Quigley is a fellow Northsider and had a previous relationship with Luke, so should that matter? There are many other O'Connor appointees that were retained without any public comment also. Where should the line be drawn? And should Luke be cleaning political house now or wait until after the primary or general elections?

Re: Leber, Leger and Malie: Mayor O'Connor erred in bringing Leber on board as Chief of Staff. By his own admission, he had no real relationship with her prior to the appointment. In addition, she was untested waters in public administration. In the post of Chief of Staff, a mayor should appoint someone they are very familiar with, trust and worked with in the past. At the very least, that person should have some familiarity with the workings of city government and share the mayor's vision. Her work with WQED did not qualify her for the post. And not having a working relationship or real trust with O'Connor doomed that appointment from the start. I don't believe she would have lasted long in that position anyway.

Leger was another appointee made by O'Connor that was flawed from the beginning. Again, Bobby O had no real working relationship with him and therefore no real trust in him. If O'Connor had done his homework regarding Leger, he wouldn't have made the appointment. Leger looks good on paper, but his reputation is that of being controlling and of not being loyal to his bosses. He is a difficult person to work with. In this town, especially in the political arena, those on the inside and those on the outside fringe with hopes of being on the inside don't generally have the balls to speak freely publicly. For those of you who praise Leger and reference newspaper quotes praising him, if you want the truth, just privately ask those familiar with him. You will get a much different perspective of him and his management style. Truth be told, he is far from the independent, professional public servant and is as much of a hack as Regan. The difference is that Regan has loyalty to his boss and Leger has the reputation of undermining the boss. It is my understanding that during O'Connor's illness, Leger exhibited his controlling nature and attempted to undermine the mayor by trying to make his own decisions against the wishes of the mayor. Leger has a problem understanding his role. His job was to oversee finance for the city, not to mettle in policy and mayoral appointments. Even if he doesn't personally agree with the policy or appointment. That quite simply wasn't why he was hired.

Susan Malie is a good attorney, especially in the area of municipal law. She dedicated her career to that field and was a longtime employee of the city law department. When O'Connor made the appointment of Malie as solicitor, it was my belief that he had a good, close working relationship with her from his years on council. This may have been the case. However, it is my understanding that her downfall was the result of her establishing a relationship with Leger and Leber and getting caught-up in a situation that the mayor deemed inappropriate.

Dennis Regan, as we all know now, was very close to Mayor O'Connor. As a longtime, close friend of Bobby O and the husband of Judy O'Connor's late cousin, he became a trusted confidant of the mayor. It was expected by everyone that knew the mayor on a personal level that Regan would have a place in his administration. And Marlene Cassidy was the mayor's longtime employee who also became a trusted confidant of the mayor. Her appointment to the mayoral staff was a given.

Now, neither Skrinjar, Regan nor Zober are longterm friends of Mayor Ravenstahl, and if they became trusted confidants of Luke's, it was a relationship forged within the past year. Regan's true loyalty was to O'Connor, not to Ravanstahl. And Zober owes his allegiance to Ferlo. I am certain that Luke has individuals that he completely trusts and who would demonstrate loyalty to his administration. It is those persons that Luke should appoint to posts on his staff. That said, it is my belief that Mayor Ravenstahl should have offered a transfer at some point to Zober, Regan, Cassidy and Lynch from his staff into other appropriate positions within city government and made appointments of his own of trusted confidants to his staff. It is important for Luke to forge his own administration -- it has to be done sooner or later. Especially since most of the negativity surrounding his administration involves scandal involving some of these player's actions prior to him even taking the oath of office.

I applaud Luke Ravenstahl for his dedication to this city and to his determination to enact some of Mayor O'Connor's principles into his administration. But this can be done without retaining O'Connor's staff in their current positions. Luke's decision to do so is proving to be a detriment and is threatening to overshadow any positive undertakings of his administration. The mayoral staff should not be the news story. Especially when the primary election is just a couple of months away.
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17 Comments:

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke should have tried harder to convince Lamb to come on board. At least he's independent and not allied with the forces of darkness currently around Luke.

 
At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Matt H said...

I think the whole Mike Lamb thing was wishful thinking. Mike knows he has an excellent chance at winning the upcoming Controller race. That's a better move for him.

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

Details.

I don't like talking much about people, nor events. I'd rather talk about 'issues.' But... since you asked.

Someone told me that Mr. Zober is to Ravenstahl much like Jon Delano was to Doug Walgren (who was ousted from office by Rick Santorum).

Bernie Lynch is fishing for grants and soft money. The outlook for the naming rights deal with the Calif firm is projected to be $.5M to $1M. I've seen swim teams earn more money. No-smoking bingos will blow that out of the water in terms of productivity. So far, we're still running on empty. Les Ludwig had pledges, and I imagine he could of delivered, of $7-million back in 2005.

The time to make staff switches was after the budget was accepted. I think the 2007 budget was the milestone. That was the last step for the O'Connor Administration. Then it was time to switch.

I also thought that last holiday season, after Bob was elected and before he took the oath, he did very, very little. Same too with Luke.

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think the whole Mike Lamb thing was wishful thinking. Mike knows he has an excellent chance at winning the upcoming Controller race. That's a better move for him."

After Michael Coyne passed, Michael Lamb, as Deputy Prothonotary assumed the role as administartor of that antiquated office and then ran for a term. Now that it's about time that that the post of Prothonotary is being abolished, wouldn't it be the perfect time for Lamb to move on and get a job in the private sector? On what does he base his qualifications for either the office of mayor or city controller, besides the general requirement of being over the age of eighteen and a city resident? Why must he feel the need to hold a public post? The voters rejected him handily last year when he ran for mayor. Wouldn't you think that would send a message to him? I am at a loss, really, as to how being Prothonotary, which is essentially a glorified clerk of court documents, would ready him to hold positions such as mayor or controller?

 
At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right Anonymous, Lamb's got more degrees than the rest of city elected officials combined and a an excellent reputation as an administrator...he's definitiely not qualified to serve in this government.

 
At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That reminds me of something I have been meaning to have researched. I would like someone to enlighten the public as to what public "officials" obtained degrees, in many cases advanced degrees, on the public dime. The list would be staggering and the cost even more so.

 
At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Jerry said...

Given our current leadership, that does not appear to be much of a problem.

 
At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Pilsner said...

Really, most of our officials don't have degrees. So what's your point anonymous?

 
At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point is that there is a large contingent of public officials, both elected and appointed hacks of the elected, that received their degrees on the public dime. Some have received advanced and law degrees, courtesy of the unknowing taxpayer. I am not talking job-related educational tuition benefits -- I am speaking of completely funding a hack's law school tuition. It's especially troublesome during times of financial crisis in our governments. I think it'd be interesting for one of our town's esteemed investigative reporters to look into who received what and for how much.

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Jack, your man could use a little support today ...

 
At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Pilsner said...

Anonymous,

I'm still missing your point. I can't think of any city officials who even have an advanced degree.

 
At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are current city and county elected officials and hacks who would fall in that category. And over the past few years, even more have left public service after having their advanced degree paid for with public funds. Degrees were awarded from both the Duquesne University and Pitt Schools of Law, CMU Heinz School of Public Policy & Management and the Pitt School of Public & International Affairs.

 
At 12:20 AM, Anonymous nathan said...

For a new mayor with little experience to keep the existing group onboard is a good call - perhaps a bit too cautious for many, yes - but a good call nonetheless.

Not contesting the mayor's ability to, well, mayor, but it's a bad practice to just come in and assume an entirely new cabinet (is that the right word?) in a situation where he's inexperienced and the city is at a cross-roads where taking one route leads us into becoming another ghost town-bound town and the other sets us up to being one of the greatest places for young minds to congregate since Portland, OR.

Not to mention that if things were to go badly, the mayor would be put completely on a chopping block for his decisions, but this way it gives him a little bit of an out. Politically speaking, of course, which is drab to say the least.

 
At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Pilsner said...

Anonymous:

"There are current city and county elected officials...who would fall into that category." That statement is just false. As stated above there are no city elected officials with advanced degrees. In the county, Onorato and Zappala went to Law school before their public careers began. Matta got his degree when he was in private industry and Lamb went to school at night and did not qualify for any tuition reimbursement.

 
At 3:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You conveniently left out the "and hacks" portion when you quoted the post, Pilsner. Since you know the educational lineage of all of our city officials and some of the do-little custodians of the county's antiquated row office system, then you surely must be familiar with some of the hacks. And you certainly should know that over the past few years that we, the taxpaying public, helped foot the bill to educate directors and other high-ranking administrators of various city & county departments, auhtorities and commissions. Many of which left public life after helping to suck the public dry. You may also recall that other officials and hacks robbed the public by attending classes during what should have been working hours and collecting a paycheck for doing so. I am also a little unclear of your point when you state that Lamb attended school at night. I should hope he did and not during the daylight hours when he was busy being the elected Prothonotary. Is it also your assertion that the public didn't pay for any of Lamb's classes? Exactly how would you know this?

 
At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Pilsner said...

Anonymous,

You made a statement that was false and I corrected it. As for Lamb, he is a row office, management employee and, as a former row office union employee, I know that we were entitled to tuition reimbursement as part of our CBA. Management was not eligible.

 
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