Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Three Want to Run County Council

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Three Want to Run County Council

Article excerpt

At least three Allegheny County Council members want to be council president, a job that's often more akin to United Nations peacekeeper than commander-in-chief.

John DeFazio, D-Shaler; Michael Finnerty, D-Scott; and Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, have announced interest in the top spot. Whoever's selected by their peers at today's meeting will take command of a legislative body that's... well, kind of in a snit.

"We can't be fighting," said Mr. DeFazio, who serves as an at- large representative rather than representing a particular district. "People want to see things done. People don't want to see fighting over petty things."

Dec. 31 marked the end of a contentious year on council, with more hurt feelings and new cliques than a public school playground.

First came the debate on drilling for natural gas on county land, which attracted activists en masse and split council into two camps.

Next came squabbles over whether county Executive Rich Fitzgerald held too much power. Mr. Fitzgerald backed down from the controversial practice of requiring undated resignation letters from independent board members but remained firm in his stance that he's in the county's driver's seat.

And as the year drew to a close, council fought over the capital budget, with Mr. Robinson leading the unsuccessful charge to include funding for the struggling August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Several members voted against Mr. Finnerty's last-minute counter-proposal, saying he short-circuited the budget process.

Since then, the playing field has changed dramatically.

Mr. Robinson has lost power, fired from his post as budget chairman.

Mr. Finnerty is on the rise, replacing Mr. Robinson on the influential committee and winning praise from like-minded colleagues.

And Mr. DeFazio has emerged as a unifying candidate for president, commanding the respect of his colleagues and a reputation unsoiled by recent spats. …

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