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Mayor Ravenstahl boots Fontana from SEA board after he backs foe Peduto

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Saturday, March 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl appointed his aide and former campaign manager on Friday to a high-profile public authority's board, ousting state Sen. Wayne Fontana days after he endorsed one of Ravenstahl's political foes for mayor.

Fontana, D-Brookline, had served on the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority since the late Mayor Bob O'Connor appointed him in 2006. His term expired in 2010, but board members serve until replacements are named. He was elected chairman of the board for the third time last month.

Fontana endorsed City Councilman Bill Peduto of Point Breeze, a Ravenstahl foe, on Tuesday for the Democratic nomination in the mayor's race. Ravenstahl is not running for re-election.

Ravenstahl appointed Paul McKrell, the city's government affairs manager, to replace Fontana. City Council does not need to confirm appointments to the SEA board, which oversees the stadiums, the hockey arena and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Ravenstahl's chief of staff, Yarone Zober, said the move was not retribution for Fontana's endorsement. He provided a list of 21 appointments Mayor Tom Murphy made in his final year in office, including naming Anthony Ross to the SEA. Ravenstahl reappointed Ross on Friday.

“I don't know why people would make this into something political,” Zober said. “The mayor has been making a number of appointments and reappointments.”

The Pittsburgh mayor appoints three of the seven SEA board members.

Fontana questioned why, with just 10 months left in office, Ravenstahl appointed someone to a five-year term.

The mayor declined to appoint a permanent police chief after Nate Harper's resignation last month, saying that's a decision best left to the next administration.

“I certainly accept his decision,” Fontana said. “If he wants, on his way out, to remove me and not let the next mayor make the decision, that's up to him.”

Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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