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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Peduto announces leadership team

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Mayor-elect Bill Peduto has announced his leadership team online this morning, and it's a mix of familiar faces and Grant Street newcomers.

Peduto will be holding a press conference to discuss his picks this afternoon, but he's already sent a clear statement: Taken together, the team is racially and philosophically diverse, or as Peduto put it in a statement, "I feel very fortunate to have assembled the most talented and diverse Mayoral cabinet in Pittsburgh's history, and perhaps the entire country." And some of the picks seem to have been made with an eye toward poetic justice.

Take Debbie Lestitian. She formally served, with Peduto, on the city's Stadium Authority, which controls land being developed on the North Shore. But she ran afoul of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, and along with Peduto became a poster child for a mayor's ability to reshape authorities according to his will. Among Lestitian's tasks in the new administration will be ... overseeing "Mayoral appointments to all Boards, Authorities and Commissions."

Another notable Peduto pick is his choice for solicitor: Lourdes Sanchez Ridge. She's notable not just for being a Spanish-speaking Cuban, but for a trait that is even rarer in city government ... being Republican. Though she lives in Upper St. Clair, I'm told she's already purchased a home in the city.

Not all Peduto's picks are so surprising: Valerie McDonald Roberts, who backed his campaign, will be Peduto's "chief urban affairs officer." That strikes me as a somewhat amorphous title -- isn't the mayor the ultimate "urban affairs officer? -- but Roberts' responsibilities will, we're told, include "all housing, non-profit and faith based initiatives of city government, with responsibilities over the Housing Authority, the Commission on Human Relations, and with a particular focus on underserved neighborhoods."

Peduto's chief of staff will be Kevin Acklin -- a widely expected move that was first anticipated here nearly six months ago. (ADDED: Of course, Acklin himself is a former Republican.)

The other familiar name on the list, of course, is that of Guy Costa, who headed up Peduto's campaign, and who Peduto is picking as his director of operations. That will put Costa back in charge of Public Works, where he once served as director, among other functions.

That move will come as something less than a total surprise to anonymous blog commenters and others predisposed to prove the new boss will be the same as the old boss. But all in all -- and I haven't even noted two of the appointees here -- this team strikes me as an intriguing mix of old and new. And Peduto's team may actually be MORE diverse than the city it hopes to lead.

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