There must be a better way!
By Jim Roddey
Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald is hardworking, cares about the community and its families, and is forging a productive and cooperative relationship with the region's business leaders. The agreement he negotiated for natural gas drilling at the Pittsburgh International Airport has the potential for significant economic development. Nevertheless, all of these positive aspects of his job performance are in sharp contrast to his method of appointing volunteers to the boards of county authorities and agencies.
Our many authorities and agencies are important cogs in the wheel of county government. We need competent and dedicated citizens as members of these important boards. One would assume that when considering a prospective appointee, the county executive would be seeking men and women who are intelligent, have a record of exercising good judgment, are trustworthy and will have the best interest of the public always in mind.
Aside from whether or not the practice is illegal, asking for an undated letter of resignation prior to an appointment announces: “I'll appoint you but I don't trust you.” I'm not sure why anyone worthy of consideration would sign such a letter. Serving on a board with an ax held above your head is hardly a formula for independent and creative thought. There must be a better way.
In 2000, the Allegheny County Appointments Commission was created. The commission was the brain child of Dan Booker, a prominent Democrat.
Dan served as the commission's co-chair along with the late Evans Rose, a prominent Republican. Membership on the commission included representatives of business, labor, academia and neighborhood organizations and was balanced by gender, race and age.
The mission of the commission was to fill county board vacancies with the best people available and match the needs of the authorities and agencies with the skills of the board nominees without regard to political affiliation. Three names were submitted to the county executive for each vacancy. The commission limited nominees to only one board membership, thus maximizing the number of citizens given the opportunity to serve.
A wonderful example of the value of this system occurred when there was a vacancy on the Port Authority board. It had pioneered a system (Access) for riders with disabilities. In the dozen or so years Access had operated, no person with a disability had served on the authority board.
The commission nominated, and the county executive selected, a young woman who had lost her vision. Ironically, when she was informed of her nomination she was riding a bus. She became one of the authority's best board members. Unfortunately, the appointment commission was dissolved in 2004.
I am sure there are many other examples of best practices for choosing board members. Perhaps appointments could be for a one-year term with the county executive having the option of reappointment for up to three additional one-year terms.
I would hope that Rich Fitzgerald will explore other ideas and reconsider the requirement for undated, presigned resignation letters. There must be a better way!
Jim Roddey, a former Port Authority board chairman, was Allegheny County's first elected chief executive.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Orpik taken off ice on stretcher in loss to Bruins
- Steelers still have something worth playing for
- Breaking down the Pirates’ needs entering winter meetings
- Rossi: Penguins’ Orpik among select NHLers going without gluten
- Investors put squeeze on prospective homeowners’ American dreams
- Controversial Rooney Rule has opened door for NFL minority coaching candidates
- Kovacevic: On Melancon, Mandela, molding
- Rampant misuse of antibiotics poses growing global threat, experts warn
- Ex-Pirates great Parker’s long wait for Hall of Fame could finally end
- Robinson: Video review reveals Steelers coach’s sideline movements in Baltimore were out of character
- Megaludis-Zanetta highlight soldout Penn State-Pitt wrestling dual