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Allegheny County Councilman Gastgeb gets $113,500 job with airport authority

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 4:46 p.m.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Vince Gastgeb, the Airport Authority’s director of corporate communications and government relations, held jobs at Sara Lee Foods, Acosta Sales and the state Department of Banking and Securities, according to his financial disclosure form. Gastgeb said he no longer works at Sara Lee and Acosta.

Allegheny County Councilman Vince Gastgeb will become director of corporate and community relations for the county's airport authority.

Gastgeb, 49, a Republican from Bethel Park, said he plans to keep his seat on County Council while working for the Airport Authority. He said a provision in the county Home Rule Charter that bars council members from receiving pay from county authorities doesn't apply to the Airport Authority.

Gastgeb, a former sales manager for Sara Lee Foods, will be paid $113,500. County Council members, who are elected, are paid $9,000 annually.

“We've made a tremendous investment in the airport. Now it's time to go externally and make it a better airport for our region,” said Gastgeb, who will start Feb. 19.

The new position “is designed to increase the awareness of Pittsburgh International Airport ... in an effort to increase air travel in Pittsburgh,” authority spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.

Gastgeb said he plans to meet with corporate leaders to drum up more business for the direct flights available from the airport, as well as officials at travel websites to ensure that their software lists all the flights available from Pittsburgh.

“Also because the state Legislature is in session ... I have to work with the lobbyist we hire to see that our interests are being taken care of,” he said.

Gastgeb served as Allegheny County co-chairman for Gov. Tom Corbett's 2010 campaign. Corbett, R-Shaler, defeated then-County Executive Dan Onorato, D- Brighton Heights, by 460 votes in their shared home county, despite its two-to-one Democratic registration advantage.

“Vince and I have, obviously, had very public disagreements in the past, but I believe that he is a good choice for this position at the Airport Authority,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who was council president during Onorato's term.

Gastgeb led the Republican opposition as GOP caucus chairman.

Both joined County Council at its formation in 1999. The county Home Rule Charter says council members “shall not receive any salary, stipend or other compensation from the county or any county authority.” Gastgeb said that doesn't apply to the Airport Authority because state law created it.

Authority solicitor Mike Wojcik said he didn't review that aspect of Gastgeb's hiring. “I focused on federal laws that would tend to disqualify Mr. Gastgeb from employment by the Airport Authority and found none. I did not, however, look at any other legal authority as that was not within my proper scope of review,” Wojcik said.

County Council solicitor John Cambest could not be reached.

Staff writer Tom Fontaine contributed. Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or mwereschagin@tribweb.com.

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