Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Googling David White, The Mayor's Choice

UPDATED: added quotes from Mayor Ravenstahl.

David White, Mayor Ravental's choice as Director of Public Affairs, has made news before--and for much more than being the mayor's athletic trainer at North Catholic High School . White has been UPMC's Community Relations Manager and also headed the 2005 Senior Olympics staged in Pittsburgh.

•Here's a 2004 Post-Gazette story (with a photo) profiling White as "The Force behind the Senior Games". It appeared as part of the paper's "annual Dozen Making A Difference, focusing on 12 people in our community who are working to improve our health".

•This Pittsburgh Business Times story from 2003 that describes his "enormous energy and talent" as "the point man for a major regional event".

•In 2005, a Tribune-Review reporter talked with White about the games' accomplishments under his leadership.

•A University Times item in 2003 also described his work at Pitt and his role in the Senior Games.

Mayor Ravenstahl describes White as a "longtime friend of mine of mine and my family's." The mayor says he "got to know him when I was in high school. And stayed very close with him, and was impressed with the work that he was able to achieve with the Senior Games."

Ravenstahl tells me that he is "very impressed with the work he did as a community relations manager with UPMC. And really felt it was a natural fit, in the transition from his work in UPMC in the private sector, to come over here in the mayor's office and work for me. I'm honored that he chose to walk away from UPMC, which is the largest employer in this region to come and work for my administration, and so I'm excited about the opportunity."

White's connection to the mayor dates back to Ravenstahl's high school education at North Catholic. "That's right. He was my athletic trainer in high school, yes. (He) got my off the injury table and back out onto the field as quickly as possible."

The mayor confirms that they've remained in touch over the years, sharing social contacts, including playing golf and running together. "He's been a close friend of mine and my family's, and when I would like to get away from the job, or spend some private time, he's always been a close friend of mine, and I think that's important to have. Somebody, and as many people as possibly can in your administration that you trust, that you know that are confidants of yours, and that's certainly what he is."

Ravenstahl also said that "as a result of his experience in the senior games and his work at UPMC, there are a lot of relationships in the Pittsburgh area that he was able to build over time. That will be helpful to me as well. This position is one that will be more interactive with the constituents of the City of Pittsburgh, whether that's neighborhood organizations and community groups, business leaders or business organizations, other governmental agencies." Ravenstahl says White "will be conduit and the sharer of information among all of those organizations."


EdHeath said...

Looking at your Googling results, it appears David White was a trainer at UPMC before becoming Executive Director of the 2005 Pittsburgh Senior Games. I guess after that he became either �the� or �a� community relations manager with UPMC Health Plan. It does sound like he did a great job with the senior games, but it also sounds like he could have less than two years experience with community relations at a health insurance company. Once again, there is the worry that he may not have the experience to think of possible problems or negative consequences in future community initiatives, that he may not be able to impart wisdom from years of city hall experience that he doesn�t have.

I applauded the O�Connor hiring of BJ Leber as a professional person who would presumably eschew politics in favor of efficiency, in keeping with O�Connor�s business experience. But Ravenstahl seems to need someone (anyone) with political experience, to help him take control of the news cycles. It does *not* appear that David White is that person.

Bob Mayo said...

A blog reader called to my attention that the mayor's new deputy chief of staff, Kristin Baginski ( http://www.law.umaryland.edu/faculty_profile.asp?facultynum=278 ), is also a North Catholic Alum (Class of 1992).

Mayor Ravenstahl himself had noted the personal connection,telling me:

"there was certainly some comfortablity levels there, with David White and Kristen Baginski, who have been long acquaintances of mine and my family, so that made that choice rather simple. The others are individuals who I dealt with in my work as the mayor, and through their work in their previous jobs. It was more of, I guess, a local search in terms of filling my office here on the fifth floor."