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Bill Peduto defends hiring 'dear friend'

Published by Robert Zullo on .

Dick Skrinjar in 2006.Dick Skrinjar in 2006.
 
By Robert Zullo
 
Mayor Bill Peduto defended a reorganization in the city's Parks and Recreation Department that left no room for a holdover from two previous administrations and opened up a new position for a "dear friend" of the mayor who was most recently working as a car salesman.
 
Speaking to reporters on a variety of subjects in his office today, Mr. Peduto said Dick Skrinjar, a former spokesman for Mayor Bob O'Connor and briefly Mayor Luke Ravenstahl who was working as assistant director of senior programs in the parks department, had a chance to apply for the new position but did not.
 
Mr. Peduto lauded the qualifications of his friend, Mark DePasquale, son of the late former city Councilman Eugene "Jeep" DePasquale and uncle to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale, which included managing his own restaurant and the Allegheny Club and the compassion he showed caring for his incarcerated brother's children and his own elderly parents.
 
"The guy knows how to manage," he said of Mr. DePasquale, who was hired in the spring and holds one of two new program manager jobs. "That's the person I want taking care of our seniors."
 
Mr. Skrinjar's assistant director job and another assistant director position were eliminated. Mr. Skrinjar made $80,770. Mr. DePasquale earns $65,249.
 
While Mr. DePasquale, who has referred questions to the mayor's office, is a friend of Mr. Peduto, he did not work on his campaign, the mayor said. Mr. Peduto added that, given his long tenure around city government, he was bound to be on personal terms with some city employees and hires.
 
Mr. Skrinjar, also a longtime PennDot press secretary, said his departure was "not a retirement" and not performance-related in a previous interview but could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
 
In an e-mail earlier this week, however, Mr. Skrinjar took exception to a remark by Tim McNulty, the mayor's spokesman, who noted that Mr. Skrinjar's "only experience" prior to parks was in public relations.
 
"From March 2014 until I went in for knee surgery in October I managed the senior program basically alone since ... my entire staff took the early buyout or were transferred out of the operation into Public Works," he wrote. "Was distinguished alumni 2006 Point Park and Public Relations Society of America's Communicator of the Year. Not bad for only a PR guy."
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 412-263-3909. Twitter: @rczullo.
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Lamb heralds re-election bid

Published by James O'Toole on .

Allegheny County Controller Michael Lamb. (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

City Controller Michael Lamb heralded his re-election bid Wednesday in an appearance before the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council.

"Over the past several years we have made many strides in getting the city financial house in order,'' he said in a statement released by his campaign. "Despite those successes, we still see increased spending, and waste of taxpayer dollars. I am running for re-election because I will continue to be an independent voice fighting to stop the waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars, and fighting for a more transparent city government.''

So far, no other candidates have emerged to challenge the Democrat, who has served in the city office since 2008. Before that, he was the Allegheny County prothonotary, an office since abolished in a consolidation of county row offices. He was an influential proponent of the reform in county government that did away with the former board of commissioners and replaced it with an executive and council, serving as campaign manager for the referendum that paved the way for the transition.

He twice ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Pittsburgh. He lost in the Democratic primary to the late Mayor Bob O'Connor in 2005. He embarked on another bid for the Democratic nomination for mayor in 2013, but dropped from the race, endorsing former Auditor General Jack Wagner, who would go on to lose the primary to Bill Peduto, the current mayor.

Mr. Lamb, a Mt. Washington resident, is a Penn State graduate. He earned a law degree from Duquesne University and a masters degree in public policy from Carnegie-Mellon University.

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Perry on Politics: Cuomo's speech would still bring down the house

Published by Mike Pound on .

 In this July 17, 1984, file photo, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo gives a thumbs-up gesture with both hands during his keynote address to the opening session of the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. Cuomo, a three-term governor, died Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, the day his son Andrew started his second term as governor, the New York governor's office confirmed. He was 82. (Associated Press Photo/File) In this July 17, 1984, file photo, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo gives a thumbs-up gesture with both hands during his keynote address to the opening session of the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. Cuomo, a three-term governor, died Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, the day his son Andrew started his second term as governor, the New York governor's office confirmed. He was 82. (Associated Press Photo/File)

By James M. Perry

Mario Cuomo, the governor of New York who twice thought about running for president, was a pretty good baseball player in his youth and a brilliant orator in his mature years. He died the other day at the age of 82.

His most famous speech was the one he delivered in July of 1984 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco at the Democratic Party's national convention.

Was it really that good? Does it tell us anything today? Yes. Yes. It was brilliant and with a little editing, it would bring down the house today. I was there, and I never saw or heard such a rapturous crowd at a Democratic convention.

The convention nominated Minnesota's Walter Mondale for president and New York's Geraldine Ferraro for vice president. What Mr. Cuomo did at the convention was urge the party to unite behind traditional liberal values.

Mr. Mondale's opponent, Ronald Reagan, seeking a second term in the White House, had called the United States "a shining city on the hill."

"A shining city," Mr. Cuomo said in his keynote address, "is perhaps all the President sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of the ranch, where everybody seems to be doing well. But there's another city; there's another part to the shining city; the part where some people can't pay their mortgages... where students can't afford the education they need; and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.

"In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation -- Mr. President, you ought to know that this nation is more a 'Tale of Two Cities' than it is just a 'Shining City on a Hill.' "

The heart of his speech came towards the end when he ticked off what he and good liberal Democrats believed.

We believe," he said, "in a government strong enough to use words like 'love' and 'compassion' and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.

We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.

We -- our -- our government should be a able to rise to the level where it can fill the gaps that are left by chance or by a wisdom we don't fully understand.

We believe -- we believe as Democrats that society as blessed as ours ... ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute.

We believe in privacy for people, openness by government.

We believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights.

We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be; the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings -- reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.

We believe we must be the family of America.

Mr. Cuomo should have run for president; only he, at the time, I think, could have articulated this liberal agenda he so neatly described in San Francisco. But he dithered. Once, his plane was warmed up on the runway in Albany, ready to carry his papers entering the primary in New Hampshire. It never took off.

Mr. Mondale was a good and decent man and Ms. Ferraro was the first woman to appear on a national ticket. Mr. Reagan, the man standing tall on a shining city on the hill, carried 49 states.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

From our friends at muckrack.com.From our friends at muckrack.com.

Starting 2015 with the flu isn't much fun – but at least we were will hungry for a good breakfast.

1) Yeah, we were stretched out on the couch at home as this developed, but the saga of Kirby Delauter – the Maryland county councilman Kirby Delauter who threatened the local newspaper with a lawsuit Kirby Delauter for printing his name (that would be Kirby Delauter) without his permission – is too good not to mention. Bonus points to reporter Bethany Rodgers, who deftly handled Kirby Delauter's attempt to bully her into submission, and the editorial writer at The Frederick News-Post, for the newspaper's formal reply to Kirby Delauter. How good is the editorial? Check the first letter of each paragraph to find out.

2) We have a new General Assembly, but no matter the buzz at the end of 2014, we probably won't see them in action until after Tom Wolf takes office. Not long after the state's new legislators were sworn in, leadership adjourned the shiny new session until Jan. 20, when Mr. Wolf, the Democratic governor-elect, is sworn in. There had been discussion of the Republican-controlled legislature moving on an item or two while Tom Corbett, a Republican, still held the office. But Jake Corman, the newly sworn-in Senate majority leader, said it would be "highly unlikely" that the Senate would conduct any business before Mr. Wolf took office.

3) He may be second in command, but there's no doubt that Vice President Joe Biden is Washington's host with the most. After stumbling upon C-Span's coverage of oath-of-office ceremonies on Tuesday, we noticed that Mr. Biden was clearly having more fun than anyone else in the room. Want to get in on the fun but not getting elected to the United States Senate anytime soon? You just need to give the Washington Post's Joe Biden random compliment generator a try.

4) For a guy who is said to have not yet made up his mind about another run for the presidency, Rick Santorum is spending a lot of time talking about making another run for the presidency.

5) Winter is easier when we embrace it, so let's follow the lead of the pandas at the National Zoo.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

pork-roast-with-sauerkraut-and-kielbasa

Time to start 2015 off right:

1) We're still a couple of weeks away from the inauguration of Tom Wolf, but our governor-elect will face a steep hill to climb – and a newly seated General Assembly that just a big step towards the right – once he gets started.

2) Among the things Mr. Wolf wants to tackle? An increase in the state's minimum wage. We wonder those legislators will give this a look, especially given that our neighbors – Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and West Virginia – all enacted increases that kicked in this week.

3) We've given a fair amount of attention to ethics and the state legislature recently, so this story about Congress and how its members deal with – or don't – potential conflicts of interest is a timely read.

4) Justice Thomas Saylor takes over as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court next week; presumably, Justice Saylor won't have to spend as much time on pornographic emails, internal squabbles and the convictions of fellow justices as his predecessor.

5) It wasn't without controversy – as the folks at TCU or Baylor would remind us – but the first College Football Playoff seemed to get off to a good start. Anyone have extra tickets for the Jan. 12 championship game in Dallas?