MWCDC elects new board and officers
Neighborhood activists beat out some local professionals when members of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation chose 11 board members and several officers last Thursday, Oct. 19.
Eight of the nineteen board candidates and three of the five vice-president candidates were rejected and they included an interior designer, a financial analyst with an MBA degree in finance, the former president of the Mount Lebanon Community Development Corporation (now living on the Mount) and an attorney.
The candidates gave short speeches prior to the vote and their backgrounds and interests were published in the October issue of the official MWCDC publication, The Viewpoint.
The newly elected board members include: Mary Causey, a retired Pittsburgh police detective; Donald Rall, an electrician and building inspector; Thomas Reinheimer, who runs the Duquesne Incline; and, Donald Lehew, a contractor, among a group whose work and educational resumes may not be as impressive as those they beat but includes neighborhood volunteers who spent a lot of time on community projects. The other board victors were: Frank Valenta, Mary McCoy, Anne Massucci, Kate Sobocinski, Thomas Reinheimer, Paul Renne, Richard Kownacki and Lynne Squilla.
The turnout that night was the probably the most MWCDC has seen on its annual election night, 170 people, compared to over 70 last year.
The membership also voted 86 to 73 in favor of a letter of support favoring Station Square as the MWCDC's preferred location for a casino. Developer Forest City Enterprises had requested such a letter from the group. MWCDC has not yet negotiated a benefits agreement with Forest City.
Ms. Squilla argued the con position and Mr. Valenta, helped by Mr. Reinheimer, explained the pro side.
She said that during negotiations she had seen no signs of good faith and good will. “All I heard was ‘Endorse us and maybe something will happen.' There's no real benefit to giving away our endorsement cheaply.”
Mr. Valenta said Ms. Squilla had always taken the con position and explained past history of the debate over the endorsement issue. Mr. Reinheimer said that if MWCDC does not endorse them, “they have no reason to consider what we say.”
Mr. Valenta, the highest vote getter with 119 votes, and Mrs. Massucci, who has a B.S. degree in science from the University of Pittsburgh, are the two newly elected vice presidents.
Architect Paul Tellers was uncontested in his bid for the presidency. Paul Renne won as treasurer over write-in candidate Janice Stock, 105 to 37.
Pam Feczko, unopposed, was elected secretary but cannot serve because she did not get enough votes to be elected to the board. There is a board vacancy and the board could appoint her; the board needs to decide what to do about it, outgoing president Ms. Squilla said.
The members approved two new by-laws. One allows for semi-annual voting meetings instead of just annual ones, so that new by-laws could be discussed and approved of in March. The second adds the executive director to the list of those who can sign checks.
Ms. Squilla reminded members of two events scheduled for October 25. The first will be the unveiling of a new tourist attraction, a statue called “Point of View,” which depicts the 1870 meeting of George Washington and Guyasuta, leader of the Seneca Indians; this event at 2 p.m. at Sweetbriar Street and Grandview Avenue is free to the public. The second one is a gala fundraiser celebration at 6:30 p.m. at the LeMont Restaurant. Tickets to this will cost $75 per person and $140 per couple and can be ordered by calling MWCDC at 412 481-3220.
In a farewell speech as MWCDC president, Ms. Squilla said, “It was a great experience but there were moments that were horrifically hard and I questioned why I was doing it.”
But, she said, the accomplishments of the organization transcended those bad moments.
She said she hopes the board always works together and the organization is not destroyed through bickering.