Tube City Almanac

December 02, 2010

McLaughlin Named Mayor; McCall Rejoins Council

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MP3 file downloadAllegheny County's second-largest city has a new mayor.

At Tuesday's meeting, city council unanimously elected Council President Regis McLaughlin to fill the remaining year on the term of former Mayor Jim Brewster. Brewster officially resigned Tuesday night.

McLaughlin, 75, has served on city council since 1998, when he was first appointed to fill a vacancy left by the death of Councilman Jim Honick.

Brewster, 62, was elected in November to the state senate seat vacated by Sean Logan, a Plum Democrat.

. . .

Retired from U.S. Steel's National Works and the owner of the former Rege's Place, McLaughlin has been a member of the board of the city's sewerage authority since 1991 and currently serves as its chairman. He is a resident of the city's Grandview neighborhood.

Brewster's resignation is bittersweet, McLaughlin said.

"If you think it's sad for him to leave, it's sad for me to see him leave, because I won't have anyone to fight with," McLaughlin joked.

. . .

Reading aloud from his resignation letter, Brewster thanked council, department heads and employees for saving the city from possible Act 47 municipal bankruptcy.

(Listen to former Mayor Jim Brewster read his resignation. MP3 file, 30 minutes.)

When Brewster took office in 2003, city council was sharply divided and engaged in open battles with former Mayor Wayne Kucich, who earned the enmity of several different political factions by firing and demoting department heads and shuffling employees. Thirteen police officers and firefighters who claimed their demotions by Kucich were politically motivated sued the city, winning $600,000 in damages.

Brewster cautioned council and his successor not to allow that type of factionalism to return.

. . .

"The leadership that elected officials must provide, the image that you project --- is it to be one of chaos, disagreement, vindictiveness and anger?" he said. "Or is it going to be one of vision, harmony, unity and balance?

"You have the answer to these questions in the palms of your hands," Brewster said.

While acknowledging that much work needs to be done to reduce the city's crime rate, demolish vacant buildings, pave roads and attract new business, Brewster said the city's future remains bright "if the right path is taken."

"Put your personal feelings aside, put your personal agendas aside, and do what's right for the City of McKeesport and the people who live here," he said. "It's a great city with a great history, great resources and great people."

. . .

Also Tuesday night, the new senator put to rest a potential controversy over $83,500 in wages and compensation that were deferred during his time as mayor.

Brewster asked that the money owed him instead be divided equally and donated to two dozen local charities and civic organizations, including the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, the McKeesport NAACP, the planned Noah's Ark Community Center, Auberle and the Womansplace shelter.

"The money will be used to help the youth, families and disadvantaged of McKeesport," he said, adding that he would work with the organizations to "determine how the money will be used."

Despite leaving the mayor's office, Brewster remains an important figure in city politics, retaining his chairmanship of the McKeesport Democratic Committee and keeping his district senatorial office in McKeesport's city hall.

. . .

Former city councilman Dale McCall was appointed to fill the year remaining in McLaughlin's term. A retired guard at the Allegheny County Jail, McCall served on council from 2001 until 2009, when he lost a bid for a third term.

One councilor suggested that instead of appointing McCall to the seat, resumes should be taken from interested applicants.

Instead, McCall was selected by 4-2 vote, with Councilmen Darryl Segina and A.J. Tedesco dissenting.

. . .

City council also approved the 2011 municipal budget. The $19.5 million spending plan includes no tax increase, but does call for increasing the municipal fee for garbage collection and other services by $20 per year.

In addition, the budget will require the city to refinance debt to close a $750,000 shortfall, city officials said. The budget passed 5-2, with Tedesco and Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker dissenting.

McKeesport expects to end the year with about $500,000 cash on hand, said Dennis Pittman, city administrator.

(Download a summary of McKeesport's 2011 budget. 2.1 MB, PDF reader required.)

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I salute Jim Brewster for donating his salary to several LOCAL good causes. He seems to be a stand up guy — a characteristic that is very much needed in Harrisburg — I just hope he does not get caught up in the corruption and self serving habits of the other Senators. Good luck Jim – remember where you came from.
Donn Nemchick - December 03, 2010

Thank you Tube City for taking the time to post the Budget on your site! Although McKeesport has a full time computer technician, they cant seem to be any better than 2 months behind on council minutes and the budget is no where to be found there.
Shadango - December 05, 2010

Although I am pleased that JB didn’t take the “owed” salary himself, the net result is the same…..$80k is taken out of McKeesport’s coffers when the city could use it towards the $750k budget shortfall predicted. He SHOULD have just refused it.
Shadango - December 05, 2010

Editor’s Note:

I have incorrectly deleted comments from someone named “Shadango,” at least one of which came in from the same IP address as someone who identified himself as a former city councilman who is running for mayor.

“Shadango” has identified himself. He is not that city councilman. It is also possible that someone has been playing games by posting comments under multiple names.

Tube City Almanac apologizes and I regret the error.

However, we will no longer accept anonymous comments. You may request that your name be withheld, but you may no longer comment anonymously.
Webmaster - December 14, 2010

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