New AC executive set to get started

| Monday, Jan. 2, 2012

As municipalities stop to reorganize at the turn of the calendar, so do counties.

"My administration will hit the ground running," Allegheny's Executive-elect Rich Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald, a Democrat, will be the third executive under Allegheny County's Home Rule Charter, following Republican James Roddey and Democrat Dan Onorato.

After a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, Fitzgerald will host a 7 p.m. celebration at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in RIDC Riverplace City Center of Duquesne.

Fitzgerald spokeswoman Amie Downs said attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to GPCFB as admission to the event.

Home rule also includes Allegheny County Council, over which Fitzgerald used to preside, where Democrats hold an 11-4 edge. The year's first meeting will be on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the courthouse.

Downs formerly was director of legislative services for council before working for six years as chief of staff for state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana, D-Brookline, another former councilman.

Council budget director Jennifer Liptak also was tapped by Fitzgerald for his administration. He named her as his chief of staff.

Fitzgerald's successor in District 11, Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, D-Greenfield, will be certified for a full term, as will District 6 Councilman John Palmiere, D-Castle Shannon, former councilwoman Joan Cleary's successor.

District 11 includes the Steel Valley boroughs. District 6 includes Clairton, West Elizabeth, Jefferson Hills and Pleasant Hills.

Also to be certified Tuesday are newly elected Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh, R-At Large, and re-elected Councilors John DeFazio, D-At Large; Nick Futules, D-Verona; Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park; Amanda Green Hawkins, D-Stanton Heights; Jan Rea, R-McCandless; and William Russell Robinson, D-Hill District.

Fitzgerald long has expressed interest in Mon-Yough matters, including a series of bridge summits in advance of each project to renovate county-owned spans from the Glenwood Bridge between Hays and Hazelwood to the W.D. Mansfield Memorial Bridge between McKeesport, Glassport and Dravosburg.

"I think the valley is going to be moving forward," Fitzgerald said after his election, noting U.S. Steel's return to McKeesport and flyover ramps McKeesport, Duquesne and on the drawing board for the Carrie Furnace site. "We're going to continue to do great things in the valley."

Even with over a decade of Grant Street experience, Fitzgerald still saw a need for counsel and named a steering committee as well as 12 vision teams.

On the steering panel are Laborers District Council of Western Pennsylvania president Philip Ameris, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh CEO Esther L. Bush, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 5 president Michael R. Dunleavy, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Barbara McNees, Pittsburgh Technology Council CEO Audrey Russo and University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg.

"Each and every one of these members is well respected in our community," Fitzgerald said.

The executive-elect plans to announce the vision teams after his inauguration. Downs said each will be given a specific charge and asked to focus on the appropriate role for the county in that venue.

"The vision teams will be geographically diverse and so will include individuals from the Mon Valley," Downs said.

She said each team will conduct public hearings within 30 days, then make preliminary recommendations by April with a final report to go to Fitzgerald in May.

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