Sunday, April 1, 2007

What Do Other Ethics Panels Do?

Here are some quick facts for comparison.



Allegheny County's "Accountability, Conduct and Ethics Commission has its own website via the county. Its members were appointed in December, 2002. A reference in this document shows they met the very next month. They publish their meeting minutes and annual reports online, and those records show that the the county's Ethics Commission members meet an average of seven times a year. In their first full year, they met eight times. Their meetings are open to the public in accordance with Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act. I covered their January 25, 2007 meeting. When they had to hold a portion of their meeting in executive session, they followed the letter of the Sunshine law: announcing the reason during their public session first, and then inviting the public back in at the conclusion of the closed-door executive session. Member names and their complaint form are available online.



Pennsylvania's State Ethics Commission has extensive information available on its website. Meetings of its members are not only open to the public, they're available via streaming video on the state's site.





P
hiladelphia installed its new Board of Ethics members in November, after action by voters last spring to create an independent panel. A news release dated December 18, 2006 refers to members' "fourth public meeting in its first three weeks of operation". Their website has a special section dedicated to spotlighting their "WhistleBlower Protection Policy".


(Links updated April 3, 2007.)

1 comment:

Char said...

The Ethics Board web page on the City of Pittsburgh's web site says that their regular meetings will be scheduled at their first meeting. Nowhere does it say what has to happen in order for the first meeting to occur.

There is a contact phone number which I did call (412-255-2626) only to hear Luke Ravenstahl's voice message. It said, "Hello, this is Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and no one is here to take your call right now." A live human did answer my second call.....so it seems the number I had dialed was the mayor's office.

Does the Ethics Board operate independantly of the mayor's office? If so, why don't they have at least a phone number or email address where they can be contacted independantly? If not, then let's just tell them to stay home (did they ever leave home?)and let the mayor himself investigate the misdeeds of all the OTHER elected officials or municipal employees.