Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment



ew Article 6 -- The Amendment deletes the present Article 6: Community Advisory Boards which is now irrelevant because City Council abolished all of the City's Community Advisory Boards, effective December 31, 2000.   In its place, the Amendment will substitute a new Article 6: Open Government which expands upon the recent Open Data legislation passed by City Council, providing greater opportunities for public participation in the governance of the city, including an ability for individuals to be notfied about legislative and administrative actions before they occur and assuring that Council and the Mayor give more attention to resident's input.

Better notification -- Individuals will be able to sign up to be notified any time that anything the city is doing would have an impact upon something of interest to them.   By identifying those matters which are of concern, when legislation is marked up before introduction or an administrative action is catagorized, the City computers would notify all those who indicated they want to be notified.

More Public Participation -- Possibly the most impressive part of the amendment is its creation of a new public participation body.   Called a Citizen Advisory Panel, virtually any city resident, property owner, business operator, or taxpayer can participate at any time, provided they don't have a conflict of interest.   This body will have the ability to obtain information and ask questions of City departments; it can communicate directly with Council or the administration; and it can develop presentations on matters relevant to the City which both Council and the Mayor will be required to attend and listen to.

Comprehensive approach --There are a number of more mundane matters such as standards and requirements for information handling, public meetings and hearings, disclosure, etc.   All in all, the amendment is a complete package of provisions designed to ensure better communication between the people of Pittsburgh and their government.

The complete text is available as a PDF file to download or view online.

Ballot Question

Shall Pittsburgh's Charter be amended to replace Article 6: Community Advisory Boards (voided December 31, 2000) with Article 6: Open Government, providing greater public disclosure; requiring public information, notices, and meetings be Internet accessible; setting applicable standards; enabling selectable notification about city matters; and establishing an open membership Citizen Advisory Panel to which pending legislation and administrative actions must be explained and through which citizens can develop and provide information and comment before final approval?

The question above will appear on the petitions when they are circulated.   The legal requirement is that a referendum ballot question accurately summarize its proposed amendment in a maximum of 75 words.   The Allegheny County Board of Elections has statutory authority to set the final wording that would appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot.   They can either use the wording above as it is, modify it, or come up with something entirely different of their own. -- We feel this succinctly represents the amendment most accurately, but if you feel you can do better, please leave a comment below.



hereas, Article 6, Community Advisory Boards was effectively rendered null and void on December 31, 2000, when City Council officially dissolved the Community Advisory Boards citywide; and

Whereas, the citizens of the City of Pittsburgh need and desire increased access to public records; to publicly available information concerning the City and their neighborhoods; and to information about what their government is planning to do, before it does it; and

Whereas, the people deserve a better opportunity to join and participate proactively in the decision making process of their community; to provide information and express their concerns to their public officials; and to more fully explain to their government what they want it to do; and

Whereas, the City has an obligation to provide those who may be affected by its actions with ample opportunity to have a say; the City needs a government structured to better ensure it works with and for all people and not just an elite few; and the City can benefit from having a dedicated body for citizen involvement which can provide an enhanced conduit for communication between the people and their government; and

Whereas, in the time since the City Charter was first drafted and enacted in 1974, technological advances now enable opportunities for enhanced public access to records and information; for more meaningful and effective involvement in monitoring and reviewing government actions; and for more productively providing comment and information to the government, in ways unimagined four decades ago; now


herefore, Article 6, Community Advisory Boards is repealed in its entirety and is replaced with Article 6, Open Government, moving Section 810 of the Charter to become Section 601 and adding Sections 602-621; and

Further, Article 1, Home Rule Powers - Definitions is amended to add definitions applicable to the amended Article 6; and Article 3, Legislative Branch, Sections 318 and 320 are amended to provide corrections and clarifications relevant to Article 6, as amended: