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Peduto and Staff to Participate in Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' Forum Thursday

From pension plans to Act 47 and dog parks to bike lanes – many Pittsburghers have questions about the future of the city and Mayor Bill Peduto and his staff hope to have the answers.

That’s why he is taking to popular social media forum Reddit Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the city’s first “Mayor’s Night On(line).”

Peduto has used Reddit in the past to connect to the community – especially while campaigning – but this is the first time he’s done so as mayor, and this time he’s doing it differently.

“In this case, instead of just taking the questions himself, the mayor is going to field the questions, but then look at the experts in the room - whether it’s the head of public works or the head of building inspection or the head of public safety - and ask them to give detailed answers to each of the queries from the Reddit community,” Tim McNulty, the mayor’s communications manager, said.

Though other public officials have used Reddit to answer questions before, this is the first time one will have their top aides gathered to provide in-depth and follow-up answers, according to the 9-year-old social media and news site.

McNulty said Peduto will take over a training room in the city’s Department of Innovation and Performance office.

“It’s filled with computer terminals and all the directors are going to be sitting behind him,” McNulty said. “And the Reddit questions are going to be on a big screen and he’s going to point to them and ask the department directors to answer the questions individually.”

Peduto and his administrators have already had a series of four public forums – a “Mayor’s Night Out” in Beltzhoover and in Perry North and two “Mayor’s Night In” events in his City-County Building office.

“Now that we’ve gone through this a few times, we know where most of the questions are going to go,” McNulty said. “There’s parks questions, public works questions, police planning, that kind of thing, so we’ll have all the main departments represented.”

McNulty said the goal is the same as it has always been: to provide direct access to the mayor as well as his top staff.

“From the beginning the mayor has promised to open up the doors of city government and the data of city government to the public,” McNulty said. “And so he’s following through on that – meeting one-on-one with residents to talk about whatever issues they want, literally having these meetings in his office.”

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.