Sec. 611, Organization & operation of the CAP - Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment

Open government = better government!

Sec. 611

611.   Organization and operation of the Citizen Advisory Panel


The CAP writes and maintains its own bylaws, addressing matters in and beyond the Charter.

The CAP shall adopt its own bylaws. Before being voted upon for final approval, the CAP bylaws and all subsequent amendment proposals shall be referred for review to the City Solicitor, who shall, within 10 days, provide comment and recommendations. &nsp; The bylaws shall comply with the provisions herein and may address other matters not included.


Membership is broadly defined to allow and encourage maximum participation.

a.       Membership shall be open to residents, property owners, city taxpayers of record, business owners and/or operators, and people whose interests otherwise come under the City jurisdiction, except where a conflict of interest exists as provided under Sec. 612.   Members must be real, natural persons who shall participate as individuals and not as a representative of any organization. The CAP may create different membership classifications or categories as may be appropriate.

b.       Members of the CAP shall be able to vote as follows:


Residents can vote on everything in addition, nonresident property owners can vote on property issues; taxpayers, on taxes and spending; business operators, on issues affecting businesses; and everybody can vote for public safety.

      1.       Unless provided otherwise under Sec. 611(b) or 612, city residents shall be able to participate in votes upon bylaws, officers, and all issues and matters before the CAP; non-resident property owners shall be able to participate in votes concerning issues affecting or related to properties within the City, non-resident city taxpayers of record shall be able to participate in votes concerning the City's taxing, spending, budget, and revenue related issues, and non-resident business owners and/or operators shall be able to participate in votes concerning or related to businesses and business operations within the City; all members may participate in votes concerning public safety issues; and members voting on contractual matters involving the CAP must be of legal age.


Some minimum level of involvement may be required for those making decisions.

      2.       To assure that those who are voting to make decisions have at least some minimum level of involvement, the CAP bylaws may establish minimum attendance and/or participation requirements for individuals to acquire and retain membership, position, or voting rights, provided an allowance is made for waivers for exceptional circumstances and the criteria are in compliance with a nondiscrimination clause in its bylaws.


A "no packing provision" guards against hostile takeover from a group of nonmembers attending a low turnout meeting, joining, and voting themselves into control.

      3.       Beginning 30 days after the initial meeting of the CAP, a member shall not be able to vote unless they have been enrolled as a member for 30 days next preceding the vote and have attended at least one prior meeting as a member.


If nearly everybody agrees, though, a new member can vote the first meeting.

      4.       Voting rights or provisions may be adjusted or changed in the CAP bylaws, or a waiver may be passed on a per vote basis of any participation requirements if approved for the particular vote by 90% of the members present and able to vote. Those permitted by waiver may vote, provided they comply with all other criteria for voting which are in force at the time.

      5.       Under no circumstance may a CAP member use any form of intimidation nor the provision or offer of any form of enticement, whether explicit or implied or immediate or future, in order to influence another member's vote.


A person must fill out and sign a membership form indicating they want to be a member.

c.       Each member shall submit to the CAP a signed membership form which fully identifies the person; which provides information deemed pertinent, such as for contact or that may be relevant to potential conflicts of interest; which indicates that the person desires to be a member of the CAP for the year from signing and both attests and agrees to compliance with the CAP's Conflict of Interest Provisions; which is accompanied by verifiable proof of identity; and the information of which is kept current by the member. A waiver of signature may be granted for valid reason.


There are no dues. Most of what the CAP does will not cost any money, but when the CAP does have expenditures, it may ask those involved to help defray the costs.

d.       The CAP shall not require membership dues. The CAP may assess fees to cover costs for postal mailings (when requested instead of email). In cases where there is a need to cover part or all of the costs of CAP activities and events related to fulfilling its official role and duties, the CAP may request a specific donation or assess a small fee designed to cover the cost involved, provided such donation or fee is freewill or waiveable for low income and special needs.


The CAP may raise extra funds, and its finances are auditable by the City Controller.

e.       The CAP may engage in fundraising activities which are not in the direct performance of its official role or duties, with fees or requested donations that are intentionally higher than the costs being possible. The CAP may apply for and receive grants, donations, etc. In all cases, income sources, amounts, and arrangements must comply with the CAP's Conflict of Interest Provisions. The CAP's finances shall be subject to audit by the City Controller.


The CAP may hire staff if it has money, without the City being held responsible.

f.       The CAP may hire staff as long as the CAP has raised, obtained, or made assured provisions for the necessary funding. The City of Pittsburgh shall assume no liability for claims of CAP staff for wages, damages, etc. unless otherwise provided for by City ordinance.


CAP officers must be City residents

g.       Officers of the CAP must be City residents and CAP members in good standing and have complied with all minimum requirements for attendance and participation.


"CAPlet" subdivisions are possible for areas of the City.

h.       In addition to standing and ad hoc committees defined by issue, function, etc. the CAP may establish subdivisions of the CAP defined by area for portions of the City.


Minutes of CAP meetings shall be posted online and throughout the City.

i.       Minutes shall be taken for all meetings.  After corrections and approval, they shall be posted on the Internet and be made available in print at libraries and community centers in a timely manner.  A copy shall be filed with the City Clerk.


Minority opinions are to be included in reports if minimal consent is obtained.  Questions about inappropriate material are referred to the City Solicitor.

j.       Majority reports shall be accompanied by minority reports upon the request of any member, provided, after review of the final minority report, the request is approved, without concurrence being implied, by a minimum vote of those present and voting which shall be set in the CAP bylaws.  Reports must not contain legally libelous or slanderous material; the CAP Chair, majority of the CAP Board, Council, or Council president may request the City Solicitor review and rule on any questionable material, and the Solicitor shall do so within 10 days.  All majority and minority reports shall be posted on the CAP website; shall be made available in print at libraries and community centers; shall be filed with the City Clerk; and shall be provided to Council and the administration.


The CAP may set up enforcement and appeals procedures for its requirements.

k.       The CAP bylaws shall include an anti-discrimination clause and conflict of interest provisions as related to its operations. The CAP bylaws may also establish procedures for enforcing various requirements which apply within the CAP, provided there is a process for appeal.


When in doubt, Robert's Rules rule.

l.       The parliamentary reference for CAP meetings and organizational procedures not addressed by its bylaws and rules shall be the most recent edition of Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised or its successor, or another widely recognized authority on parliamentary procedure if so designated in the CAP bylaws.