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Agenda Initiative dismissal appealed

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n appeal was filed Monday, August 14, 2017, in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas contesting the County Solicitor's disallowance of a proposed ordinance that could ultimately result in use of a new human-recountable voting system for Allegheny County in time for the 2020 presidential election.   The proposed ordinance, submitted through the home rule charter's Agenda Initiative procedure, would create an expert commission to review the County's voting process, make recommendations, and identify the optimum voting system for use in Allegheny County; a referendum would then be held for voters to approve or disapprove its acquisition.   Nearly 800 signatures were submitted, of which nearly 700 were determined to be valid County voters with 500 being required, but the Solicitor ruled against the ordinance on legal grounds which OpenPittsburgh.Org, the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), and several individual appellants contend in their appeal are unfounded.   Oral argument and an evidentiary hearing are scheduled for October 20, 2017.

Top-down Politics vs Bottom-up Change

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he 2016 election year brought to the polls large numbers of first time voters and those who seldom vote.   The overblown hype and distrust sown in the lead up to the election proved to be quite divisive and has wasted energies which could be put to more productive use.   By focusing upon the selection of public officeholders, in general, and specifically upon the nation's highest office, we keep hoping in vain for meaningful solutions to trickle down.

Electoral democracy's inherent nature of top-down governance is simply insufficient to address today's challenges.   While electing good candidates is important and not to be discounted, it's time that we pursue a new bottom-up approach.   Real solutions can only come when average citizens are provided with a structural and operational framework that enables them to work together within the halls of government where they can better monitor and hold it accountable and, at the same time, proactively catalyze needed changes.

4 pillars of the Open Government concept

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hen most people hear the phrase "open government." they think of "transparency," but, while that is essential, it's only one part.   There are actually four essential pillars -- transparency, notification, public participation, and accountability -- all of which are necessary for truly open government.   By implementing comprehensive reforms at the municipal level, first with Pittsburgh and then other interested communities, we can build a base of open government from which the model can eventually be expanded to higher levels of government too.

Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment

Synopsis

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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.

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