Pittsburgh Council approves reforms; Peduto pushes for more

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Fresh off the passage of new campaign finance, contracting, lobbying and ethics rules, Pittsburgh Councilman William Peduto today launched a push for broad changes to the way the city is governed, calling for reforms to hiring, development, management and more.

He said today's unanimous votes on a raft of bills that aim to control the relationships between city officials and special interests demonstrate "a warming-up to reform" that he wants to build on by way of "a one-year process" of gathering the best governmental thinking and turning it into legislation here.

He also launched a "report card" on the Web site reformpittsburghnow.com that he said will show how council members vote on the coming measures, and whether Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signs them.

Mr. Peduto's 10 "theses" on reforming city government are: 1) attacking waste, fraud and abuse; 2) ending "pay-to-play" politics in which contracts and campaign contributions coincide; 3) separating politics and government; 4) eliminating grants often called "walking around money;" 5) ending no-bid contracts; 6) merit-based hiring; 7) professionalizing management; 8) putting government information online; 9) reforming development subsidies; and 10) strengthening ethics rules.

Mr. Peduto said he didn't know which theses would become legislation first, but suggested a few specific bills that might emerge soon.

"You cannot and should not, as a public official, have the benefit of putting your name or picture on public property," or sending out city-paid mailings close to election time, he said. It has been a long-standing practice to put mayors' names on items like trash cans, and some officials send out "newsletters" to constituents during campaign season.

City subsidies for development should come only with "measurements to minimize the effects on the adjacent neighborhood, minimize the effects on the environment, and ensure opportunity for all."

Data on the resolution of citizen complaints should be placed online in an easily understandable format, he said, so people can easily see which neighborhoods or types of complaints are getting the fastest service.

And council members shouldn't be allowed to steer money meant to pay for office staff to community groups instead, he said.

Mr. Ravenstahl has indicated he would sign reform measures approved by council today.

Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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