Disrespecting PAT board
When someone is appointed to the board of an organization, one would hope that whoever is making the appointment was doing so because he/she believes the person being appointed is intelligent, thoughtful, has good judgment and will be able to make sound decisions. This premise is evidently not true for our Allegheny County chief executive, Rich Fitzgerald.
Just as he did with the county Health Department and appears likely to do with the Parks & Recreation Commission, Fitzgerald is forcing his appointees to the Port Authority of Allegheny County board to fire the executive director, Steve Bland.
The principal duties of a board of any organization are to set policy, approve goals and objectives, oversee strategic planning and, most importantly, hire and fire the CEO. If Fitzgerald intends to make these decisions himself, why bother to have an independent authority or commission? Just turn the functions over to county departments reporting to the county executive.
In the case of Bland, Fitzgerald's decision is questionable. Bland is a highly respected transit professional who has one of the more challenging positions in the public transit industry.
The Port Authority's lack of dedicated funding, onerous union contracts and the area's tough terrain make his job extremely difficult. He has made significant progress by streamlining service, cutting overhead and introducing innovative technology. Finding another transit executive of his caliber will not be easy.
The Port Authority board, chaired by Jack Brooks, a former labor leader and one of the most capable executives in our region, should make the decision regarding the Port Authority's leadership. To do otherwise is to disrespect the citizens who volunteer as board members of the Port Authority and the many other county authorities and commissions.
The writer, a Republican who was Allegheny County's first elected chief executive, is a former Port Authority board member and chairman.