Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's decision to nominate his brother Adam to the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority board just plain stinks.
It is true, as the mayor's spokeswoman asserted, that there long has been an effort to include in Alcosan's leadership someone who lives near the North Side plant and, thus, would be aware of and subjected to odor, traffic or other problems emanating from the sewage treatment facility. Adam Ravenstahl, the mayor's 25-year-old brother who won a special election to the state House of Representatives on May 18, does live in the Summer Hill section of the North Side, but plenty of other individuals meet the criterion of being Alcosan's neighbor.
If the legislator whose district includes the Alcosan plant held a seat on the seven-member authority, we might buy the argument that Adam Ravenstahl deserves it, too. Unforuntately, that doesn't hold water as his precedessor, Don Walko, wasn't a member.
Is it vital to have a member of the Legislature on the board? Maybe, but Mr. Ravenstahl's appointment isn't necessary for that reason either. Another state representative, Harry Readshaw, is already chairman of the Alcosan board and his five-year term runs through 2011.
Adam Ravenstahl, who until his election was a business analyst with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, wouldn't bring any particular expertise to the board either.
The mayor's selection of his brother also raises questions about whether it simply is political payback. If approved, Adam Ravenstahl will replace Dan Keller, one of three candidates who, unsuccessfully, ran against him for the Democratic nomination for the Legislature. Mr. Keller long has been active in the Brighton Heights Citizen Federation, which has been involved in efforts to reduce odors from the Alcosan plant and, though his term ended on Dec. 31, he said he would have preferred to remain on the board.
This nepotism may not be against the law, but it is the sort of decision that leads citizens to distrust the public process and conclude that know-who trumps know-how every time.
City Council should say no to this ill-advised nomination.