Pittsburghers for Public Transit Calls on Governor Wolf to Remove Port Authority Board Member Embroiled in Controversy, and Appoint Rider Advocate Heather McClain
In an open letter co-signed by 13 regional and statewide organizations and elected officials, Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) is calling on Governor Tom Wolf to appoint rider advocate Heather McClain to the expired Port Authority Board seat currently occupied by Robert Kania.
PPT believes that the demographics of the Port Authority board should reflect the demographics of the riders, and that board members should have a deep understanding of the importance of transit in advancing equity and economic development. Moreover, effective board members must be regular users of the transit system which they oversee, in order to understand and uplift the grassroots expertise of fellow riders and operators.
“In her role as the Community Initiatives Manager for Healthy Ride, Heather McClain has been a tireless advocate for increasing mobility and access, particularly for marginalized communities.” says Laura Wiens, Executive Director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit. “She is a long-time, regular transit rider, and is a leader in advancing equitable, inclusive growth in the Beechview community. We believe that Ms. McClain is an ideal steward of this vital community asset.”
Current Port Authority Board member Mr. Kania is the subject of a campaign finance complaint recently filed by the DC-based nonprofit transparency organization Campaign for Accountability, for failing to register with the state around his political activity and report campaign finances. Moreover, the term of his appointment by Republican former Governor Corbett expired in 2017. WESA broke this story back in November and covered it again in December. This week the Post Gazette and WESA took an even deeper dive into Kania’s grossly inappropriate behavior.
Alice Huling, Council for the Campaign for Accountability – the DC-based non-profit that filed the Complaint against Kania, commented; “Pittsburghers are right to question whether Robert Kania is fit to serve on the board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Mr. Kania attempted to unfairly influence an election outcome by operating a secret campaign; he tried to dupe voters and appears to have run afoul of Pennsylvania’s campaign finance laws. Mr. Kania should be held accountable for any campaign finance violations, and Governor Wolf should seriously consider whether someone who behaved in this way is fit to serve as a public official in Allegheny County.”
Letter of Support for Appointment of Heather McClain to PAAC Board of Directors sent 4/11/19 from Pittsburghers for Public Transit and 13 other leaders of regional and statewide organizations
Campaign Finance Complaint against Kania filed 4/8/19 by Campaign for Accountability