Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ethics Board Meets Friday (Update)

ittsburgh's Ethics Hearing Board still plans to meet Friday morning at 10, but it won't be using the City Council chamber this time.

The law department says the meeting's location has been shifted to the large conference room on the first floor of the building at 200 Ross Street.

The ethics hearing board web page hasn't been updated yet.

At last word (Early Returns, third story) , the panel--created 17 years ago--wasn't accepting complaints from the public because it hadn't come up with a complaint form. Allegheny County's complaint form is online at this link, and the state provides its complaint form here.


Char said...


Do any of Kate De Simone's "warnings" hold water? Or is she just making stuff up on the fly like is so often done in any upstanding Banana Republic? Why is she touting a YEAR waiting period? Who decides the "process" anyway? Is it the Ethics Board itself? Did they get all of that done in their first meeting?

Thanks for keeping on top of this.

Bob Mayo said...


The process is spelled out in the law. I'm not sure what the basis for the "year" would be. The law does require that a complaint be filed under penalty of perjury.

The City Ethics Handbook is on the city's website. It includes the ethics law itself in the appendix. The handbook's commentary explaining the law says:

-a complaint "must be signed under penalty of perjury."

-"the City Solicitor will conduct a preliminary inquiry within 60 days."

-"If the City Solicitor determines that further inquiry is justified, an independent investigator will be assigned to further investigate the matter. The independent investigator must complete his/her inquiry within 30 days."

-"If preliminary investigation by the City Solicitor and further investigation by the independent investigator both establish a possible violation of City ethics provisions, a full investigation will be initiated. The subject of the investigation will be notified and provided with a general statement of the alleged violation(s) and the identity of the complainant. The Board will notify the complainant within 72 hours of the commencement of the investigation. Until the investigation is terminated, the Board will advise both parties of the status of the investigation at least every 90 days. Within 180 days, the Board must, unless an extension is obtained, either terminate the investigation or issue a findings report to the subject."

The code itself says:

"A person who signs or causes a complaint to be filed may be liable for wrongful use of the City ethics provisions if:
1. The complaint was frivolous or without probable cause, and was made primarily for a purpose other than to report a violation of the City ethics provisions; or
2. The person publicly disclosed or caused to be disclosed that a complaint against a person had been filed with the Board.
Allegations of wrongful use are investigated in the same manner as other complaints under the City ethics provisions. If the Board establishes wrongful use of the City ethics provisions, the subject of the complaint may bring action in a court of appropriate jurisdiction, and may recover for:
1. Harm to reputation by a defamatory matter;
2. Reasonable expenses incurred by the individual;
3. Resulting pecuniary loss;
4. Emotional distress caused by the proceedings; and
5. Punitive damages according to law where appropriate."