Saturday, July 02, 2005

City's loss is UPMC's soon

The saga with the #3 guy in the Murphy Administration gets another article to freshen the thread.
Kennedy won't be involved in EMS talks in new job Departing City of Pittsburgh Operations Director Bob Kennedy probably won't have an opportunity to finish the biggest job he's left undone: the transfer of the city's paramedic service to local hospitals.

Older (June 29) posting on this blog about Kennedy:
Pittsburgh losing operations director to UPMC Pittsburgh Operations Director Bob Kennedy will leave the city post this week to become a vice president for government relations at UPMC Health System.


A couple of years ago, I called upon some of Pittsburgh's biggest employers, and that would include UPMC for sure, to do the city a big favor. I asked that the big employers HIRE Mayor Murphy and some of his cronies in City Hall -- for the good of the city.

Often, when you get into a tangle, the best thing you can do to get beyond is to show the oppostion a better exit. Getting the trouble to leave with grace is a great way to win in the end.

Well, back then, no outfit (not Mellon, Giant Eagle, PNC, UPMC, nor the Peace Corps) offered Tom Murphy a corner office, parking space, secretary. Tom Cox still works for the city too. Others flew to Detroit and Cinci. Whew.

Now comes the news of Kennedy's departure. Did UPMC finally get the message? Let's not kid ourselves.

How about a package deal?

But really, given this time -- what's the worry. Who cares if they go to the private sector or to unemployment?

Kennedy, on the other hand, isn't the worst of the worst. But, why would UPMC hitch its GOVERNMENT RELATIONS post to a person from the MURPHY ADMINISTRATION?

Either: UPMC doesn't understand the horrors of the Pittsburgh legacy of the Murphy Administration; Or, UPMC thinks the #3 guy in the horror-filled administration is not a culprit too; Or, UPMC is holding up its civic duty to take him on as a rehab case-study; Or, Kenneydy might hold value with a EMS deal yet to unfold in the past decade; Or, Altmire made em do it; Or, you can tell us what you think in the comments below.

If AGH hires Murphy and Tom Cox goes to work for Alcoa, the PG, the Steelers, or even American West Airlines, I'll be happy for them, personally. My only wish was that those shoes would have fallen two years ago.

Mr. Kennedy, way to go on getting the new position. Hope you have a splendid career henceforth.


Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh losing operations director to UPMC

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Operations Director Bob Kennedy will leave the city post this week to become a vice president for government relations at UPMC Health System.

Kennedy is the highest-ranking official to leave the administration of Mayor Tom Murphy, who did not seek re-election and will leave office at year's end. He is viewed as the administration's third-in-command, behind only Murphy and executive secretary Tom Cox.

Kennedy will replace Jason Altmire, who is leaving the UPMC post to run for Congress against Melissa Hart, R-Bradford Woods.

Altmire confirmed that his last day at UPMC will be tomorrow and that Kennedy will replace him.

The Murphy administration said Kennedy was on vacation and would not discuss his plans until Friday. UPMC said it had no comment at this time.

Kennedy, 56, is a Sharon native and University of Pittsburgh graduate. He earned a Bronze Star and other medals as an Army infantryman in the Vietnam War and joined the city as a paramedic in 1975.

Kennedy was named chief of the Emergency Medical Services Bureau in 1986. When former Deputy Mayor Sal Sirabella left the administration to join Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll's staff in January 2003, Murphy tapped Kennedy as his replacement.

In that role, Kennedy has overseen the day-to-day performance of all city departments, from Public Safety to Public Works, Zoning and Building Inspection.

It's been a tumultuous time for the city, marked by budget shortfalls and layoffs. An early priority, which Kennedy never completed, was the merger of the city Fire and EMS bureaus.

An alternative plan, to turn over EMS to the local hospitals, is still the subject of negotiations between the city, the health-care industry and fiscal overseers. It's unclear whether Kennedy's presence at UPMC would advance that effort.

Through it all, Kennedy maintained good relationships with most of city hall's constituencies.

"He knew how to do business with people," said Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics President Jeff Vesci. "At the end of the day, you could always come to some kind of compromise with him."

(Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.)

Mark Rauterkus said...

Who out there is going to be the one to put SALA UDIN to work?

Rob said...


You obviously don't know Bob Kennedy. I've had some interesting disagreements with him. But UPMC is getting an EMS leader by hiring Kennedy.

You're better off when you know what you're talking about.

Rob of UnSpace

Mark Rauterkus said...

Everyone is better off knowing more -- and reserving comment until fully aware. But, with a blog, I get to share my thoughts and have others give me pointers when I'm not fully aware.

But, --- no and yes.

I don't know Mr. Kennedy well. I'll grant you that. But, I know the city well, and I know the work (and lack of it) of the Administration well. And, Kennedy is one of the top players in the city's administration.

If the city administation was a basketball team of five players -- Kennedy would be (say) a power forward. Trouble is Pittsburgh's team can't rebound, fast-break, nor operate with much of an inside game.

The hit on Kennedy from me comes as he has been associated with such a poor excuse of an administration.

But on the other hand, I beg to differ on the notion of the other remark. UPMC isn't getting Kennedy to serve as an EMS pro. UPMC is getting a GOVERNMENT RELATIONS leader. If Kennedy was going in as a special projects manager to resolve this EMS merger thing -- GREAT. I'd be jumping for joy. Perhaps that is the covert mission?

The EMS / Fire / Hospital alliance is a JOKE. Totally stalled. There is a log-jam there and Kennedy is at the helm. He didn't fix it. It needed to be fixed.

The day-to-day EMS service -- no worries. Pittsburgh is a great place to be if you are in need of urgent care out on the streets. The above and beyond stuff is what I see -- and those calls from the bleachers are sounding like the hoops crowd repeating "air-ball."

But UPMC is way beyond an ambulance service.

Decent and pretty good at UPMC is flat-out not nearly good enough. When it comes to Governmental Relations -- we'll see how he does over time. All-star performances are necessary.

Al L'Agheny said...

This is politics, pure and simple. This man knows the town's connections very well, and will help UPMC navigate the political waters as things change over.

UPMC is quite an institution that bridges into the political for all the obvious reasons. Given the volume of charity it hands out, as well as the fact that healthcare is over 50% socialized these days... Plus, its tax exempt -- which gals quite a few politicians who'd like to have it pay for certain services, never mind the volumes of free services it provides the community, or the fact that it brings in heavy amounts of other taxes related to employment....

Anyway.. I digress. In the world of politics, there is nothing you won't do if it helps your cause. If you don't, someone will be in your pocket before you can say, "Stop! Theif!"

Anonymous said...

Kennedy won't be involved in EMS talks in new job

Saturday, July 02, 2005
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Departing City of Pittsburgh Operations Director Bob Kennedy probably won't have an opportunity to finish the biggest job he's left undone: the transfer of the city's paramedic service to local hospitals.

Kennedy is leaving the city to become vice president of governmental relations and community health services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, effective July 13. He said he began job hunting in late May, and was "very fortunate" to find a new post quickly.

Kennedy has been involved in negotiations between the city and local hospitals regarding the possible shift of the Emergency Medical Service from the city to a hospital-related entity. Asked whether there was any overlap between his job hunt and those negotiations, he said, "None."

UPMC spokeswoman Jane Duffield said the health system continues to be involved in talks regarding EMS's future. "Mr. Kennedy in his new role won't be involved in that," she said.

Kennedy said he was leaving the city because it seemed the appropriate thing to do since Mayor Tom Murphy will be replaced in January. He said his biggest regret was not being able to help the EMS department "to grow and continue to be a premier service through a partnership with the hospitals."

The Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics believes such a move would be difficult, because local hospitals have been hesitant to pledge enough funding, said union President Jeff Vesci.

Spinning off EMS is one of the few significant pieces of the city's fiscal recovery plan that hasn't been completed, according to a June 23 progress report from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

It's also personally important to Kennedy, since he started at the city as a paramedic in 1975, and became EMS director in 1986 before his promotion to the city's third-in-command in 2003.

His new role will put him in charge of all of UPMC's federal, state and local government relations, according the health system. He'll also direct the Division of Community Health Services and oversee charitable contributions.

Kennedy said he's not aware of any law or rules barring him from negotiating with the city he has served for 30 years. He said he continues to believe shifting EMS to the hospitals "would be a positive step."

Kennedy said his proudest achievements with the city are merging the city's 911 call center into Allegheny County and restructuring the Fire Bureau.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect Mark, I find your comments on Kennedy unfounded and even irresponsible. Here’s a guy who has dedicated his entire career to public service--including military service in Vietnam--who started out as a paramedic with the city’s fledgling EMS bureau, helped develop the bureau into one of the highest regarded in the country and worked his way up to where he is today. Being critical of Murphy and Cox (who has served during Murphy’s entire tenure) is warranted. But being critical of Kennedy out of “guilt by association” because he served two years as the #3 guy out of a 30-year career with the city is terribly careless. To use your basketball analogy, you could have the world’s best players on the court, but if they’re led by the world’s worst coach, they’re never going to win a championship. If the coach doesn’t let his star guard play to his fullest potential or continually puts the guard and team in hopeless situations, you can’t blame the guard for a string of losing seasons.

You’re missing a very important point when you use this “guilt by association” argument. If a city resident wants a career in public service at the local level, he or she has very few options for employment—either the city or the county. If this person gets an entry-level job with the city, is truly talented and ambitiously works his or her way up in the organization, he or she doesn’t get to choose who the mayor is going to be. There may be a bad mayor in office, but the public servant’s work shouldn’t be considered any less honorable because of that fact. It’s like any other place of employment. However, though a doctor at UPMC doesn’t get to choose who the CEO is, he does have options of working at other hospitals if he’s not happy with how the hospital is being led. Someone who wants to work in local government in Pittsburgh doesn’t have that luxury.

And blaming Kennedy for the UPMC EMS takeover not going anywhere is also irresponsible. UPMC has all the leverage in that deal. What incentive would UPMC have to take it? The city has nothing to offer. Insurance and Medicare reimburses costs for emergency and ambulatory care. But who’s going to pick up the tab for the countless number of residents without health insurance? It’s a losing proposition and the reason why the city provides the service instead of a private entity. Though one can justifiably question if UPMC is a true non-profit, they certainly aren’t a charity and they’re smart enough not to take on a new function that loses money.

Anonymous said...

TRIB's Whispters had:

EXODUS ON GRANT STREET. Pittsburgh Operations Director Bob Kennedy became the latest member of outgoing Mayor Tom Murphy's administration to pack it in.

Kennedy last week took a job to become a vice president for government relations at UPMC Health System. He will replace Jason Altmire, who left to run for Congress against Republican U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods.

Murphy, whose overwhelming unpopularity in the wake of the city's near financial collapse last year made winning a fourth term an unrealistic goal, leaves office in December.

Kennedy becomes the fourth high-ranking city or city authority official to depart in the past year or so.

Sports & Exhibition Authority Executive Director Steve Leeper left for a job in Cincinnati. Urban Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Mulugetta Birru went to Detroit. Parking Authority Executive Director Ralph Horgan took a job at Carnegie Mellon University.

Expect the pace of the departures to pick up as the January inauguration date of presumptive Mayor-elect Bob O'Connor draws nearer.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I don't know who else the Trib thinks can depart the Murphy Administration -- other than Tom Cox. ???

Many have left already.

The Mayor's Spokesperson is still there.

Who else?

Citiparks' Director Ashley might just stay. Perhaps a #2 guy in Citiparks. ??