Saturday, April 21, 2007
As promised, here's a link to a podcast based on Q&A with city ethics hearing board members Kathy Beuchel & Sister Patrice Hughes and board nominee Penny Zacharias.
All three are very circumspect in their answers. They emphasize what they see as the educational and service role of the Pittsburgh Ethics Hearing Board.
That's not to say the board will lack powers and duties to investigate alleged ethical violations and hold hearings on complaints.
The city code gives them the authority to issue subpoenas and take sworn testimony, require evidence, and issue orders and penalties.
The code makes it clear they can launch investigations on their own, with or without a complaint.
Section 197.12 (a) (1) (INVESTIGATIONS) says:
"Upon a complaint signed under penalty of perjury by any individual or upon the Ethics Hearing Board's own motion, the City Solicitor shall conduct a preliminary inquiry into any alleged violation of the city provisions." [Emphasis added.]
(The city's ethics handbook is available online. It reviews the city's code of conduct and the powers of the ethics hearing board.)