The Faces of 90.5 WESA
Tue December 20, 2011
Shields Leaves City Council
Doug Shields has been working in city government since 1992, a time when Nirvana still toured, George H.W. Bush sat in the Oval Office, and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl wasn't yet 13 years old.
Shields, who's leaving his post as Councilman after eight years on the job, started as an aide to then-Councilman Bob O'Connor, who would later be elected as mayor.
Ironically, it's O'Connor's son, Corey, who will take Shields' place.
"I like Corey. I've known him since he was a baby, and maybe that's another reason why I should be leaving. When the babies grow up, and now they're 27, 28 years old, it's time for the old man to move aside," he said, with a laugh.
Shields took up his Council seat as Finance Chair in January 2004, just after the city fell under Act 47 state financial oversight. He characterized the ensuing financial austerity measures as frustrating, but necessary.
"Our debates were honest. They may have been heated. There was a lot of emotion involved, but also, I would say, I think [the Act 47 team] recognized the passion of the people on this Council too," said Shields. "As we worked together, we put this city in a place to succeed, and that was really big."
During his two terms as Councilman, Shields has been the driving force behind some important — and at times controversial — pieces of legislation, including a measure to require the reporting of lost or stolen handguns and a citywide ban on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. He also wrote measures to reform the Police Bureau guidelines for domestic violence and to regulate the financing of political campaigns.
He's also been part of a voting bloc of Council Members that has pushed through several high-profile bills, including a last-minute, New Year's Eve 2010 effort to avoid a state takeover of the city's pension fund. But Shields said that it's a shame that the "Fab Five" — Council Members Shields, Peduto, Rudiak, Harris, and Kraus — couldn't get along better with Mayor Ravenstahl.
"I would call that 'not a great success' on my part or the mayor's part to form some sort of working relationship," said Shields. "All we've ever done is bang heads, between this Council and the mayor."
Nonetheless, Shields said that he's proud of the Council's accomplishments during his time there, and thankful to his constituents for the opportunity. He said that he's looking at a few options for a new job.
"All of them kind of have their hand in government," said Shields. "So, I'll be a player here at some level."
"I'm like Regis [Philbin]," said Shields. "I'm not retiring; I'm just trying to do something different."