MWCDC board sides with committee on election nominations
Voices were again raised in anger and accusations were made at another Mount Washington Community Development Corporation meeting on Oct. 7.
The controversial subject at the board meeting that night was the same one that generated bickering at a membership meeting on Sept. 16. Some MWCDC members are disturbed about a recent change in the nominating process in which a committee of three persons now interviews the candidates to be recommended for listing on the ballot and rejects others. Previously any dues paying member who opted to be a candidate could run for election.
The committee, chaired by Pete Karlovich, recommended eight candidates run for seven board director positions: Emily Anderson, Father Victor Cianca, Phil Delmer, Jerry Dettore, Joanna Doven, Eric Horwith, Gloria Ostermeyer and Mike Tabachnick.
The following candidates were recommended by the committee to run for officer positions: J.T. Smith, president; Tom Brady, vice president; Jon Lusin, vice president; and Jerry Dettore, treasurer.
Committee members are: Jay Molluso, Darla D'Anna and Mr. Karlovich.
Board member Frank Valenta and others wanted all of the applicants listed on the ballot; however the board that night voted 6-2, with one abstention, against his motion that would have allowed all on the ballot.
Anne Massucci, one of the board's current two vice presidents, said some candidates were rejected only to make it easier for the committee's preferred candidates to win. She seconded and voted for Mr. Valenta's motion.
Rob Frank, one of the rejected candidates, mentioned some of his qualifications. He served on the Brookline Community Council, worked as an administrative assistant for former city councilman Eugene Ricciardi and was a member of the South Pittsburgh Economic Revitalization Team.
"I know that only way you can get things done is to pound the pavement…I am about making a difference. I'm about compromise," Mr. Frank said.
MWCDC member Georgia Blotzer said when she ran for a board director position she chose not to be part of a slate recommended and picked by Mr. Valenta and consequently she did not win. The new system gave candidates an opportunity to be "vetted," she said.
Tom McCue, another of the organization's members,
pointed out the board had originally approved the new policy for selecting candidates.
"All that we are asking for is to let people vote for whomever they want," former board member Jim Nolan said.
"The process was fine the way it was," Ms. Massucci said. "This is a membership organization, not anything unto itself."
"You are opening a can of worms, a hornets' nest here," MWCDC member Bill Oakes said. Another member, Bill Conroy, said the organization could become "elitist.
Mr. Dettore said the MWCDC had "to play by the rules" requested by the foundations providing the grant money. "They hold all the cards."
"Changes were made (to the nominating process) not because of one person. They were done in the best interest of the organization," Executive Director Chris Beichner said.
Due to disruptions at the membership meeting, candidates were not able to give speeches at the membership's Candidates Night traditionally held in September.
Among routine announcements made by Mr. Beichner was a Tellers Committee has been chosen to distribute and count ballots on Oct. 21, Election Night. Members are: Judy Hackel, Chuck Wallace, Carl Sutter and Ms. Blotzer.
He had board members vote on the MWCDC's Outstanding Partner for the Year. The three nominees are: City Council member Theresa Kail-Smith; the funders that paid for the MWCDC's organizational assessment; and, Duquesne University.
The final choice will be announced at the MWCDC's second annual dinner at 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Le Mont Restaurant. Master of Ceremonies will be Pirates announcer Greg Brown and there will be a Silent Auction. Tickets cost $60.
Mr. Beichner said the former Boggs Avenue School, that closed in 1985, will be purchased this month by the MWCDC from the city's school board and sold for the same price, $15,000, to interested developer John Bazari who plans to build a 14-apartment complex there. "We brought the developer to the table," he said.
He also reported board member Greg Falvo has resigned. The board president will follow the by-laws and will ask the nominating committee for recommendations on filling the vacancy and then make an appointment, he said.