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County Council Reappoints Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee Members, GASP Again Implores Offi

Allegheny County Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to reappoint several members of the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee whose terms had expired, although a key vacancy there remains both unacknowledged and unfilled: The one created by GASP’s outgoing leader Rachel Filippini.

GASP has been clear: We want to retain our seat at this particular decision-making table and reached out to Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald in September to respectfully request that our senior staff attorney John Baillie be nominated to replace Filippini on the committee.

Despite writing and calling, Fitzgerald has yet to in any way acknowledge our request, which we find unfortunate. 

“At this point, he’s not only ignoring GASP, he’s ignoring the other 113 local residents who sent him emails asking that he consider John Baillie to fill the vacancy,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. 

To reiterate our request and update Council on steps GASP has taken to remain a part of the committee, we submitted the following public comments Tuesday:

Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. My name is Patrick Campbell and I am the new executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), an environmental watchdog organization that’s been advocating for improved air quality for more than 50 years.As we told you earlier this month, our outgoing leader Rachel Filippini was a member of the Allegheny County Air Advisory Committee and the chair of the Pollution Prevention and Education Subcommittee prior to her exit last month. At your last meeting, I let Council know that GASP is very interested in retaining a seat on the Air Advisory Committee, and that we both wrote and called Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to respectfully ask that he nominate GASP’s staff attorney John Baillie to serve in that role. As Ms. Filippini’s former alternate on the Air Advisory Committee and a member of ACHD’s regulation subcommittee, we believe he would be an outstanding replacement. Unfortunately, Mr. Fitzgerald has not yet acknowledged our request in any way. To help punctuate our request, GASP recently asked local residents to join us in asking for Mr. Baillie to be nominated. We think it’s important to note that more than 100 people did just that, sending emails to Mr. Fitzgerald asking that the appointment be made as soon as possible.GASP also sent correspondence to Air Advisory Committee Chair Dan Bricmont, asking him to reach out to Mr. Fitzgerald in his formal capacity to request the vacancy created by Ms. Filippini be filled by Mr. Bailllie.Since Allegheny County Council is poised to approve the reappointment of many committee members tonight, we wanted to update you on our work to remain on the Air Advisory Committee.We know that Council does not have the power to make nominations to county boards but the Home Rule Charter does charge Council will helping to “provide better access to County government.” With that in mind, we are asking members of the appointment committee to consider inquiring about the status of Mr. Baillie’s nomination.If you have any questions related to Mr. Baillie’s qualifications, please contact me at,Patrick Campbell

We’ll keep you posted on when – or whether – we hear back from Fitzgerald, Bricmont, or members of the appointment review committee. If you’d like to let the county executive know that you support John Baillie’s nomination to the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee, it’s not too late. We’ve got an automated form complete with sample language here.

It’s our hope that together, we can ensure GASP has a seat at the table along with these recently reappointed committee members:

Their terms expire Dec. 31, 2023.

Editor’s Note: You can read more about what the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee does here and here.

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