Wednesday, July 15, 2009

City Government Summer Hockey: 5 on 4 Power Play

Imagine the shock waves in Washington if U.S. Senate Democrats used a filibuster-proof majority to approve a raft of President Obama's appointees without interviewing the nominees first.

The Post-Gazette's initial web story on Tuesday captures a flavor of the unusual nature of what happened in city government:

"Pittsburgh City Council divided sharply today before taking the unusual step of opting not to interview 12 nominees to city boards prior to approving them."

Today's PG account notes that about half of the large number of simultaneous appointments had already been approved by City Council in a matter of a few weeks:

Mr. Ravenstahl made 21 nominations on June 22, and council interviewed and confirmed nine of them within the usual two- or three-week time frame.

Council members Jim Motznik and Theresa Smith are quoted in the PG:

Mr. Motznik said the nominees "have been scheduled for interviews, only to have them canceled the night before" by Council President Doug Shields, calling such tactics "the gamesmanship, the political crap that we have to go through."

"I know what my community wants," countered Ms. Smith. "They have elected a mayor of the city of Pittsburgh, overwhelmingly," and mayors pick board members.

The Trib's council coverage doesn't touch on the no-interview approval process, opting for a four sentence story about the opportunity to apply for a new city commission.

Over on Pittsblog 2.0, Mike Madison offered analysis weeks back in June about the background of some of Mayor Ravenstahl's appointments. Council's action passes on the opportunity for citizens to hear from the nominees.

There's conversation about the story in the comments section of this post by on The Pittsburgh Comet.

2 Political Junkies has critical commentary and a biting editorial illustration.


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