Burgess wants to codify access to Pittsburgh information

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It's spelled out in state law and in the city of Pittsburgh's home rule charter, but Councilman Ricky Burgess thinks it bears repeating.

Tuesday, Mr. Burgess introduced legislation that would codify a requirement that city departments provide information to council members, saying that some council members have had difficulty obtaining information in the past.

Mr. Burgess said he sponsored the bill "so we can be better partners with the administration to run a more efficient, effective government."

The bill would not make any records that are currently off-limits -- such as an individual's tax records or police investigatory records -- public.

City council is already empowered to remove department heads with cause. So while noncompliance of information requests was, in the past, an encumbrance, putting it in the city code would make it grounds for terminating a city department head, Mr. Burgess said.

Mr. Burgess said he has typically not faced challenges in obtaining information, but said he once had to file a right-to-know request as a council member. Department heads are supposed to comply with information requests from council members.

Councilman Bruce Kraus said he has good relationships with city departments and has also not had any difficulty obtaining information. But he said he supports codifying the measure.

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Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published October 2, 2013 4:00 AM


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