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Peduto wants Pittsburgh residents to join transition teams

| Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, 10:33 a.m.

Mayor-elect Bill Peduto is tapping into former Pennsylvania governor and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell's playbook.

Peduto on Monday invited city residents to volunteer for eight transition teams. By the end of the day, about 200 people had applied online, a response that Peduto said made for an exciting start to a weeklong recruitment effort.

“Bill's long understood that when you include everyday people, when you include the residents of Pittsburgh, the outcome is much better,” spokeswoman Sonya Toler said. “This is his whole philosophy of turning government upside down.”

Peduto in September met with former Rendell Chief of Staff David Cohen, now a senior executive at Comcast. Cohen explained Rendell's transition process and shared Rendell's transition book.

“There are a lot of similarities to Rendell's approach to governing Philadelphia,” Toler said.

Neither Rendell nor Cohen returned calls.

Moe Coleman, director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh's Institute of Politics, said it is not unusual for Pittsburgh mayors to seek transition input from residents. He said Alle­gheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and former Executive Jim Roddey recruited teams from the public.

“I'm not sure whether (Mayor Luke) Ravenstahl did, but I'm sure (late Mayor) Bob O'Connor did and (former Mayor) Tom Murphy did,” Coleman said. “I served on one for Fitzgerald.”

A Ravenstahl spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

The transition teams roughly follow the alignment of Peduto's executive team, which he announced last week. A member of his executive team chairs each transition team, except for Public Safety, which Peduto will lead. He has yet to hire a public safety director.

Transition team members must live in Pittsburgh and must have some knowledge useful to the team they serve.

In addition to Public Safety, the other teams are:

• Economic Development, chaired by Peduto's Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin

• Innovation & Performance, chaired by Chief Innovation and Performance Officer Debra Lam

• Administration & Finance, chaired by Chief Administration Officer Debbie Lestitian

• Operations & Infrastructure, chaired by Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa

• Housing & Urban Empowerment, chaired by Chief Urban Affairs Officer Valerie McDonald-Roberts

• Education & Neighborhood Reinvestment, chaired by Chief Education & Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer Curtiss Porter

• Law & Ethics, chaired by Solicitor Lourdes Sanchez Ridge

Toler said Peduto has not determined how large each team will be.

They are expected to begin work on Nov. 25 and finish by the end of the year. Peduto, 49, of Point Breeze takes office in January.

Ravenstahl did not run for re-election after seven years in office.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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