Dixon: Politics Played Role in Ouster from Health Department Post

Article excerpt

The ousted chief of the Allegheny County Health Department said Thursday he likely lost his job because of politics, but he will leave confident of his contributions to improve public health.

Dr. Bruce Dixon, 73, said the Board of Health is too closely influenced by politics, when it should operate at a distance.

"That's not the intent of the law. Somebody ought to look at that," Dixon told the Tribune-Review.

Dixon, who was fired Wednesday by the county's Board of Health, has not decided when to leave the department, which he headed for the past 20 years. In accordance with his contract, which runs through June 2013, the board gave him a 90-day notice of termination.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said she did not have details on Dixon's severance package or the search for his replacement.

New County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has said the health department needs to be reorganized and that business people and environmental groups complained to him about the department during his election campaign. Board of Health Chairman Lee Harrison said Wednesday the board felt no political pressure to fire Dixon.

Dixon has been criticized for his decision not to overhaul the county's restaurant grading system and for his handling of the health care program at the Allegheny County Jail.

"If you take action against some individuals, it's only natural they're not going to be happy," Dixon said.

Dixon said he doubts his successor will be offered the salary arrangement he had, which called for payments by both the county and the University of Pittsburgh. …