PhillyDeals: John McNichol is confirmed as CEO of Convention Center

John McNichol says he will seek more center shows.
John McNichol says he will seek more center shows.
Posted: February 21, 2014

When the top jobs open up at some of Philadelphia's most powerful public institutions, the politically appointed boards don't look too far for replacement bosses.

Harrisburg lobbyist John McNichol was confirmed Wednesday by his fellow board members as the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority's chief executive officer, a position that will pay $220,000 per year, plus benefits.

McNichol had been acting in the job since predecessor Ahmeenah Young was sent away last fall, when the board hired facilities manager SMG to handle day-to-day operations and negotiate new union contracts.

That reduced the CEO's job to overseeing SMG and other contractors on behalf of the state, whose taxpayers financed the center's $800 million expansion in hopes of boosting Philadelphia's hotel business.

McNichol says he'll work harder to land more shows at the underused center.

City and union representatives on the center's board had groused that there ought to be a formal search for a CEO that included black and female candidates.

But that opposition vanished, and McNichol was elected unanimously, as the board agreed to name Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, as the vice chairman. Shapiro broke ranks with some of Mayor Nutter's allies and supported booting Young and bringing in SMG.

McNichol justified his appointment by citing his volunteer service on the board and his career as a corporate lobbyist for Greenlee Partners, and as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Pa.).

McNichol's wife, Danielle, is the $170,000-a-year chief counsel of the Delaware River Port Authority. His brother, Paul, has succeeded their late father as head of Upper Darby's once-solid Republican organization, which has been losing ground to Democrats.

Mental-health mogul

NHS Human Services, of Lafayette Hill, which employs more than 10,000 at nearly 700 mental-health group homes and other government-funded facilities from New York to Louisiana, says former State Sen. M. Joseph Rocks, (R., Phila.), is stepping down as the mostly nonprofit institution's chairman and chief executive officer at the end of the year.

Rocks, who ran NHS for 14 years, expanded the former Northwest Human Services into six other states, and grew the yearly budget to more than $500 million, will be replaced by Joseph S. Martz, executive director and secretary at Philadelphia's Board of Managers of City Trusts.

Tax records show Rocks collected about $1 million annually from NHS. NHS won't say what Martz will be paid.

Martz served as managing director under Mayors Ed Rendell and John F. Street. He also worked for government IT contractor ACS Corp., for Elliott-Lewis, a labor-services firm whose clients include the Convention Center, and for military contractor Lockheed Martin.

On Martz's watch, the City Trusts board laid off staff, cut enrollment, and made plans to suspend for a while the overnight boarding program at Girard College. Martz blamed Girard cuts on rising expenses compared with profits from the board's investments in real estate and other assets.

Wills Eye Hospital, another board charity with roots in the 1800s, has fared better lately, setting up for-profit clinics and a modern Center City hospital and research center.

The architect of Wills' expansion, Joseph Bilson, its president since 2007, will replace Martz as executive director of the City Trusts board.


JoeD@phillynews.com

215-854-5194

@PhillyJoeD

www.inquirer.com/phillydeals

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