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Rendell stocking Cabinet

Governor-elect will nominate 4 men from Allegheny County

Sunday, January 19, 2003

By James O'Toole, Post-Gazette Politics Editor

At a Downtown news conference this morning, Gov.-elect Ed Rendell will announce the nominations of four Allegheny County men for his Cabinet.


Rendell's Cabinet nominations


On his final visit to the city before taking the oath of office Tuesday, Rendell will name:

dot.gif Pittsburgh lawyer Stephen M. Schmerin, 52, of Gibsonia, as his nominee to be secretary of labor and industry.

dot.gif Dennis Yablonsky, 50, of Mt. Lebanon, the head of the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, as secretary of the Department of Community and Economic development.

dot.gif Former state Rep. Greg Fajt, 48, of Mt. Lebanon, as secretary of revenue.

dot.gif William Schenck, 59, a Fox Chapel financial consultant, as secretary of banking.

Today's announcement follows the unveiling of three other Cabinet nominees yesterday. In Philadelphia, Rendell nominated Katie McGinty, to be the state's new secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and David Sanko to be director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

McGinty is a former environmental adviser to Vice President Al Gore..

Rendell reached across party lines in choosing Sanko, a Republican who is Gov. Mark Schweiker's chief of staff..

Later, in a news conference in Bethlehem, Rendell named the city's mayor, Democrat Don Cunningham as his nominee for secretary of General Services.

Ken Snyder, Rendell's spokesman, declined to comment on any of the nominees to be announced today, but people close to the governor-elect's transition team confirmed the planned announcements. Rendell was to fly in to Pittsburgh this morning to introduce his four selections at the Hilton Hotel and Towers.

Fajt is a lawyer and certified public accountant. He formerly represented the 42nd District in the state Legislature He from 1990 to 1996, when he relinquished the seatto run for state Senate. Fajt was defeated in that race by now-U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.

Fajt is a graduate of St. Vincent College and the Duquesne University School of Law.

Schmerin, also is a graduate of Duquesne Law School, specializes in labor law and has offices Downtown.

Snyder, Rendell's spokesman, while declining to comment on Schmerin specifically, said Rendell's goals for the department included making it more consumer friendly andreducing delays in processing worker compensation claims.

Yablonsky is a software executive who helped run two state-funded economic development groups in the last decade. The Life Sciences Greenhouse is intended to spur development of biotechnology businesses.

Until last fall, Yablonsky also headed the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, another state-funded group.Its goal is making the Pittsburgh region a magnet for high-tech firms.

Yablonsky formerly worked at Carnegie Group Inc., a Pittsburgh based artificial intelligence software firm that was later acquired by a Boston firm.

Schenck, 59, the banking department nominee, is a financial consultant who divides his time between Pittsburgh and New York.

He is active in civic affairs, serving on numerous boards of charitable organizations. He is a former vice chairman of Great Western Financial Corp. and former chairman and CEO of Fleet Mortgage. Before that, he was a senior executive at PNC Corp., formerly Pittsburgh National Bank, for 26 years. More recently, Schenck commuted to Silicon Valley where he served as president and CEO Tradenable Inc, formerly known as i-Escrow, a firm that provides escrow and other financial services over the Internet.

In Philadelphia yesterday, Rendell said his Department of Environmental Protection nominee, McGinty,was one of the leading environmental expert in the country. A Philadelphia native, McGinty served as a senior White House aide during the Clinton administration and chaired the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

McGinty said her goals include improving the state's water quality. She also said air pollution would be a priority for her administration, and she would consider providing incentives for power plants to reduce emissions to improve air quality.

Sanko, 43, said the first thing the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency needs to address is finalizing a smallpox vaccination plan for bioterrorism first responders.

Snyder said Sanko, though a Republican, was nominated because he "knows perhaps more about PEMA and emergency services generally than anyone working in government."

James O'Toole can be reached at jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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