Between the lines with Marty LaMar

Between the lines with Marty LaMar

It was on New Year’s Eve that we asked this public policy question:

Why was Marty LaMar fired in May 2017?

On Jan. 14, the Post-Gazette’s Rich Lord offered some insight.

LaMar took over as the City of Pittsburgh’s chief development officer on Jan. 6.

The P-G’s sister paper in Toledo, The Blade, reported that LaMar was fired for unspecified reasons as president and chief executive officer of the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority two-and-a-half years ago.

But Lord reports that in a June 2016 memo to LaMar, from that authority’s then-director, Linnie B. Willis, LaMar’s behavior as her deputy was scrutinized.

“For the past few months, you have been absent from (the) Central Office on a regular basis, in fact, at least 95 percent of the work week,” Willis wrote.

The memo also noted a “pattern of absences, lack of engagement in the day-to-day operations” and, as the P-G characterized it, “inadequate communications” with Willis.

LaMar blames an “uneasy” relationship with Willis that led him, again, as the P-G reported, “to work remotely, typically in other offices of the authority.”

All that said, upon Willis’ retirement six weeks later, LaMar was chosen to replace her. And 10 months later, LaMar was let go and with a parting gift – three months’ worth of his annual $150,000 salary.

Of course, now that the matter is receiving more publicity, just about everyone associated with it has gone mum.

But LaMar told the P-G that he and his old authority’s board “just had a different philosophy in terms of how the organization should go forward. … I think probably to get into the details of it doesn’t do me or the organization any justice.”

How’s that? Reasonable people reading between the lines likely will not find a flattering narrative.

Simply put, if the details of LaMar’s brief tenure don’t do him justice, why was he hired by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto as the city’s chief development officer?

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).