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Peduto makes four nominations to key Pittsburgh department posts

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 12:03 p.m.
Maura Kennedy is Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's choice to be the city's new Bureau of Building Inspection chief.
James Griffin has been hired as the city’s director of Parks and Recreation.
Todd Siegel has been hired as the city’s personnel director.
Deborah Walker has been hired as manager of the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto on Wednesday announced his nominations for four key city management posts, including a woman who established a strategy for combating vacant and abandoned properties in Philadelphia.

Maura Kennedy, 32, is nominated to head the Bureau of Building Inspection, a department that City Council has ripped for lacking modern technology — including emails for building inspectors — and for its slow response in issuing permits and responding to complaints.

Kennedy, a director of Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections, served as department spokeswoman last June when a building collapsed during a demolition, killing six people and injuring 13. The demolition contractor and a backhoe operator have since been charged with murder.

Peduto said he nominated her because she is credited with modernizing Philadelphia's permitting and licensing system along with her work on abandoned properties.

“She's someone that can really utilize technology to make our permitting system easy to use and go from a pen-and-paper system to a modern system,” Peduto said. Kennedy, who would be paid $100,889 annually, could not be reached.

Also nominated: Todd Siegel, 52, as director of personnel and civil services at $96,410 annually; James Griffin, 47, as director of the city's parks and recreation department at $96,410 annually; and Deborah Walker, 59, as manager of the Office of Municipal Investigations at $74,775 per year.

Siegel would start his new job as personnel chief immediately. The other three are set to start in the coming weeks. All must be confirmed by City Council.

Former OMI Director Kathleen Kraus, who has worked 36 years for the city, was fired Wednesday, Peduto said.

Louann Horan, the acting parks and recreation director, will return to her former job as fiscal supervisor in that department, and John Jennings, the acting BBI chief, will return to assistant chief in BBI, Peduto said.

Siegel replaces Judy Hill Finegan, the former personnel director, who retired last week.

Peduto described the new directors as “talented, experienced professionals.“

“I think by the time we're done, we'll have one of the strongest administrations in the country,” the mayor said.

Peduto said he chose the nominees through their applications to Talent City, a group established by several Pittsburgh charitable foundations to recruit and screen job applicants on the city's behalf.

Griffin and Walker said they are grateful that Peduto chose them.

“Once the confirmation process concludes, I think we'll have a better idea of where to go and how to get there,” Griffin said.

“As a proud native Pittsburgher, it is an honor to have the opportunity to work with Mayor Peduto and his administration as we shape the vision for the Next Pittsburgh,” Walker said in an email.

Separately, the Peduto administration is planning to replace longtime Pittsburgh Police Bureau spokeswoman Diane Richard, officials said.

Talent City officials inadvertently notified Richard by email that she is no longer being considered for the position, said John Ellis, spokesman for The Pittsburgh Foundation, which is coordinating the effort.

Ellis said Richard should have been notified in person by the Peduto administration, followed by an email from Talent City.

“We made a mistake,” Ellis said, adding that Talent City has apologized to Richard.

It was unclear whether Richard would be fired or reassigned. Richard could not be reached for comment. Sonya Toler, Peduto's spokeswoman, declined comment.

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

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