What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 31, 2007

Ethics Board Recommendations: Public or A Secret?

Big Hat tip to Bram on this one.

Ok, this is getting tiresome. Now I have an some idea of what parents must feel when they hear story after story about their lying, disrespectful child. The Trib's Jeremy Borem has the story:
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl refused to release a letter Thursday that contains changes the city Ethics Hearing Board has recommended to ethics rules.
Remember all this? The $9,000 golf outing paid for by UPMC and the Penguins? The Ethics Board "dialog" with the mayor? The appearance of impropriety? I guess there wasn't enough there for the ethics board to publicly spank master Luke, but there was enough there for the ethics board to decide that some clarification of the ethics code was needed. They said they'd send the recommendations to the Mayor's office.

Those are the recommendations he's keeping secret:
Kate DeSimone, an assistant city solicitor who works with the board, said the letter isn't subject to the state open records law because the board members consider the letter to be "personal between them and the mayor."
I'm happy to see the Trib giving Coucilman Peduto the last word:
"If they think that's a private matter, that's insane," said Councilman Bill Peduto, who often criticizes Ravenstahl's administration. "It was a letter from a public board, from a public meeting that was sent to a public official. What makes them think the public can't see it?"
Damn straight.

By the way, the Trib's filed a request for the letter via Pennsylvania's Right-to-know law.

UPDATE: DeSantis responds:

Mayoral candidate Mark DeSantis challenged Luke Ravenstahl to abide by Pennsylvania law and publish the Ethics Board recommendations. Ravenstahl has now made this bad situation even worse by defying Pennsylvania's Right to Know law and refusing to release to the public the recommendations of the Ethics Board. This was a decision the Ethics board was forced to make as a result of Ravensthal’s conduct.

“This represents everything that is wrong with City government. The idea that an ethics issue of a public official is viewed as a private matter is absurd and unacceptable. I call on Mayor Ravenstahl to release the Ethics Board’s findings immediately. The citizens of Pittsburgh deserve an open and transparent government not more of the same old style of politics. Transparency in government is a hallmark of my campaign. I assure the citizens of Pittsburgh that they will not have to compel me to release public documents.”

Absurd and unacceptable. That's what the man said.


414 Grant Street said...

Kate Desimone is an idiot...the Trib will win that open records request with their eyes closed...


The Burgher said...

The Ethics Board's determination is a secret?

We live in absurd times.

Mike said...

It's a private matter is one of the worst lines a public official can come up with to hide his public actions. That letter will be brought out, and it will be scathing. By hiding it, Ravenstahl only ensures that it will happen closer to the election in November, and therefore be an even bigger impediment to his election hopes.

EdHeath said...

So you file a Right to Know act request. You wait x days and nothing. Who do you talk to? Do you have to swear out a complaint? Sue somebody (the city)? Wait for the courts to find time for a hearing? The city asserts its not bound by the act for some reason. You wait for a court to rule on that, and the city appeals. You wait for the city to lose the appeal. If the city simply ignores the judgment of the court, what do you do? Make some clerk pay $300 a day?

McArdle said...

A government entity has business five days to respond to a request under the right-to-know law. If it is in the city, you call George Specter next. I have never had to go past that, but I suppose the next thing to do would be to bring a lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court to compel disclosure. If the city fails to comply then, the state police go into the mayor's office with a subpoena and get the document for you.