n order to make the needed changes and mandate a more open government, we must amend the City Charter. The Charter is a document which lays out the form and functions of City government, much the way the U.S. and our state constitutions set the structure and requirements for their levels of government. To accomplish this from the citizen level, we must use Pennsylvania's process of Initiative and Referendum.
Do it now!
Sign the petition
The Initiative and Referendum process places a question on the election ballot asking voters to approve or reject the proposed change. In seven weeks from June 15, 2010 to August 2, 2010, we must collect over 10,000 signatures from people registered to vote in the City of Pittsburgh in order to place a referendum question on the Spring Primary ballot. This is the Initiative part of the process. We will then need to run a campaign to get people to vote to approve the amendment (the Referendum part).
The Amendment would delete the present City Charter provisions for Community Advisory Boards which City Council dissolved citywide effective December 31, 2000. In their place it will substitute Open Gevernment provisions for:
- online access to all city records which are open to public review under Article 8 of the City Charter
- cablecasting and/or webcasting of all meetings, hearings, proceedings, etc. which are required by law to be open to the public
- interactive ability for members of the public to comment, ask questions, and participate via the Internet as they would when present in person
- all information on matters up for public hearings must be available at the time of the hearing's advertisement
- substantive change to a bill before Council constitutes a new introduction for the purposes of public participation requirements
- establishment of a new body for proactive public participation called a Citizen Advisory Panel
The Citizen Advisory Panel ("CAP") portion includes:
- open membership and no size limit; virtually any person without a "conflict of interest" can join at any time and begin having a say
- all agenda items for Council meetings and all presentations of new bills must be explained to the CAP, with questions and answers, before going to Council
- the administration and Council can make presentations to the CAP to inform it about issues of their concern
- the CAP and its committees can investigate issues, hold hearings, develop proposals and make its own presentations to Council and the administration
- a representative of the CAP has a non-voting seat at the table in Council Committee meetings and can participate equally in discussions and deliberations
- the CAP can educate and inform the public about city government affairs and public concerns