Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-DPW Manager Sues City over Firing

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-DPW Manager Sues City over Firing

Article excerpt

A former assistant director for the city's public works department who said he wanted nothing more than to clear Pittsburgh's streets and work on its special events sued the city and its top administrators Thursday, saying he was fired because he didn't support new Mayor Bill Peduto.

Robert Palmosina, 50, of Banksville worked in the Department of Public Works from 1987 when he was hired as a laborer until Jan. 7 when he was fired from a job that paid around $77,000. Like many members of the department, he also had a political role, as a Democratic Committee member and eventually as 20th Ward chairman.

"I never brought politics into this job," he said in an interview after the lawsuit was filed. "I push my candidates in my community. I promoted the people that I thought should be promoted."

In the run-up to the May 2013 primary, Mr. Peduto's backers including current city operations director Guy Costa asked for his support, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court by attorney Timothy O'Brien.

"In an April 2013 meeting attended by representatives from the Peduto campaign ... [Mr. Palmosina] asked what would happen if he did not support Peduto's campaign, and was informed by defendant Costa that plaintiff needed to be 'on the right side,' " according to the complaint.

However, the South Hills wards in which Mr. Palmosina was active voted for mayoral candidate Jack Wagner, a Beechview Democrat, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Palmosina said in an interview that he supported Mr. Wagner.

Mr. Palmosina was dismissed on the same day that his fellow public works assistant directors Kevin Quigley and Dennis James were fired. All were Democratic Committee ward chairmen.

The administration has maintained that decisions were made based on performance and that long-standing employees in managerial positions were invited to reapply for their jobs. …

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