Friday, July 25, 2008

Ethics News Roundup

he city's website notes that Rabbi Daniel Schiff's term on the Pittsburgh Ethics Hearing Board expires August 1, 2008. That's Friday of next week. The board's next meeting is the following Friday. Ethics Board Chair Sister Patrice Hughes told me a few months back that she and her fellow board members were going to request that Mayor Ravenstahl appoint Rabbi Schiff to an another term.

Rabbi Schiff appears twice, briefly, in my July 13, 2007 Channel 4 Action News report.

While the city website lists a vacancy on the board, City Council actually approved Daniel Devinney as the replacement for Penny Zacharias some time back.

Pennsylvania's Ethics Commission is scrupulous in not discussing any cases under its investigation or review. As a result, Lawrence Fisher the attorney for Urban Redevelopment Authority Director Pat Ford is currently the only source available to answer questions about the status of the commission's ethics review of Ford.

The Trib headlined Tuesday: "Decision to investigate suspended city development chief delayed", reporting:

The state Ethics Commission might decide by month's end whether it will press on with a full investigation of Pittsburgh's suspended development chief or exonerate him, his lawyer said.


"The state Ethics Commission failed to timely docket the inquiry resulting in a purely bureaucratic delay," said Ford's attorney, Lawrence Fisher.

So far, Attorney Fisher hasn't responded to my e-mailed request for an on-the-record statement.

As posted here, Mr. Fisher had said previously he was advised via phone by the Ethics Commission's Executive Director John Contino that the preliminary inquiry of Ford began around May 19th.

To recap, before any formal investigations, by law the state ethics commission first opens a preliminary inquiry, which can take up to sixty days. At that point, the ethics commission's executive director makes a determination whether to move forward with a full investigation. The Post-Gazette reported in June 9 that "Mr. Fisher said the commission is expected to dismiss the matter or launch a full investigation by July 18". That would be sixty days after May 19th, and is consistent with the timeline I've reported.


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