City will activate ethics board

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A city ethics panel that has been dormant for 16 years will finally get its five members, Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor's administration announced yesterday.

The Ethics Hearing Board has the power to investigate city officials and employees for violations of the city code. It has long had no members, and city officials do not believe it has ever taken any action.

City Council is expected to receive the five nominees today, interview them tomorrow, and vote on their conformation next week, said city Policy Director Yarone Zober.

The mayor gets two picks on the board. His choices are Mount Washington attorney David Scott, of Strip District-based LeClaire, Griewahn & Scott, and Shadyside resident Kathleen Buechel, a consultant to the Alcoa Foundation.

The mayor also has picked three members from a list of nine provided by council. All are religious professionals.

The Rev. John Welch, of Homewood, is the pastor of Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Manchester. He was suggested by Councilwoman Tonya Payne.

Rabbi Dr. Daniel Schiff of Shadyside is a community scholar at the Agency for Jewish Learning and part-time rabbi at Temple B'nai Israel in White Oak. His name came from Councilman William Peduto.

Councilman Jim Motznik suggested Sister Patrice Hughes of Beechview. She is the manager of Beechview Manor Inc.

Interest in rejuvenating the board spiked in May, when Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle's $178,000 in spending on consultants and community groups came under scrutiny. In the absence of a city panel, her spending was referred to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. and the state Ethics Commission. Neither has commented on its investigation.

Reviving the local board "is something the mayor said he would do in his campaign," Mr. Zober noted.


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


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