Kevin Acklin, Mayor Bill Peduto’s former chief of staff, will become senior vice president of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team announced today. In addition, Acklin will oversee development of the former Civic Arena site.
Acklin will resign his position as board chair of the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Thursday, he’s held the post since 2013. The URA played an integral role in rewriting the terms of the Lower Hill development, and retains ownership of some of the land.
The URA did not immediately return a request for comment.
Carl Redwood is head of the Hill District Consensus Group. He said Acklin will ensure the Penguins get what they want from local government.
"That's why they hired him. Not so much for his business stuff, because they got business people," he said. "But he has business stuff and he has political connections."
Acklin's new role is great news for the city, said Dan Gilman, Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff.
"Having somebody who comes out of the Peduto administration, who knows the mayor's vision, who understands the financing tools of the private sector, state government, federal government, local government...it's fantastic."
Gilman referred questions about the ethics of Acklin's move to the city solicitor, but said he and Peduto will demand the city's ethics guidelines be "followed to a 'T'." The city's ethics handbook prohibits public officials from representing people for a year in cases where they played a major role.
Acklin will depart his most recent post as chief legal counsel for Peoples Gas, which has proposed a plan to become a regional water provider.
“Our policy is we don’t talk about transitioning employees,” said Barry Kukovich, the company’s manager of community affairs. “We wish him well. He’s very well-known in the community, it’s a great opportunity for him.”
Kukovich said Acklin’s move will have no effect on Peoples’ plan to create Peoples Water.