Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto restarting his search for public safety director

Bob Bauder
| Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, 11:21 a.m.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has said hiring a public safety director is a top priority, but he is again hunting for good candidates.

Peduto on Tuesday announced that he is seeking more applicants to lead the police and fire bureaus through Talent City, a recruiting website sponsored by Pittsburgh's foundation community. The site is designed to recruit candidates from across the nation.

Separately, the mayor announced the hiring of a familiar face as public works director. Mike Gable retired in March as the department's deputy director. His salary will be $100,889.

“Mike Gable is a consummate professional, an experienced worker who came up through the ranks, and he will be an effective and capable leader for our Public Works Department,” Peduto said in a prepared statement. Gable could not be reached for comment.

Peduto said acting Public Safety Director Mike Huss will continue in his post and remains a finalist for the permanent job. Huss did not return a call. The city's 2014 budget sets the job's salary at $105,000.

The mayor has said he planned to hire a public safety director before other top administrators, but John Ellis, vice president of communications for the Pittsburgh Foundation, which is coordinating the Talent City effort, said the search would take some time.

“The plan was we would submit between three and five candidates for each position for the mayor to consider,” Ellis said. “If he wanted more candidates, then he would come back to us, which he's done.”

Ellis said 101 people responded to the first appeal, and Talent City sent six of them to Peduto for consideration.

Peduto said he was considering three finalists. Two, including Huss, were from Pennsylvania, and one was from Virginia. He said he wanted someone with federal law enforcement experience and an “Eliot Ness” reputation. Ness was the legendary Prohibition-era federal law enforcement agent.

Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin admitted it would be hard attracting someone of that caliber with a federal investigation of the police department ongoing.

Federal authorities charged former police Chief Nate Harper last year with siphoning money from department accounts and income tax evasion. He pleaded guilty and has a sentencing date in February. Federal authorities say the investigation is continuing.

The public safety director also oversees emergency management, building inspection and animal control.

Gable, 59, of Morningside replaces Rob Kaczorowski, who will wrap up his 34-year city career at week's end. Kaczorowski, 55, of Crafton Heights said he'll be job hunting in the coming weeks.

“I have some municipalities that have contacted me,” he said.

Gable started working for the city in 1974 as a laborer in the parks and recreation department. He transferred to public works in 1993. He retired in March as deputy public works director to become director of operations/administration with the Allegheny County Public Works Department, a job that paid $89,301.

Under his new job, he will no longer be permitted to collect a city pension, according to Peduto spokeswoman Sonya Toler.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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