Saturday, October 9, 2010

Insiders Say No City Councilor Refused To Lend Colleagues A Hand On Pension Data Subpoena

A mayor-side source continues to deny it, but uniform council-side reports indicate that no member of Pittsburgh City Council declined to sign the subpoena directing InsolvenCity administrators to deliver pension data to state officials.

Councilors Smith, Burgess and Dowd reportedly were not in the City-County Building when a staffer circulated the subpoena documentation for signatures; six signatures were adjudged adequate, so the subpoena was issued without waiting for absent councilors.

Rev. Burgess has all but confirmed that he was not asked to provide a signature -- by circulating a blistering e-mail among his colleagues, objecting to his lack of an opportunity to sign consider signing the subpoena authorization.

City-Council Building custodians continue to scrape eyebrows from fifth-floor ceilings consequent to Daniel Lavelle's decision to authorize the subpoena; the extent of Lavelle's departure from lock-step mayoral companionship will be further illuminated Wednesday, when council members begin to vote with respect to the Suddenly-Not-So-Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale.


Anonymous said...


According to the subpoena's author, there were seven members present on the hall when the subpoena was circulated, so if no member declined, then someone was denied the opportunity to sign it.

And an email asking to be notified prior to reading it in the Post-Gazette in the future is hardly blistering.

AND if your next response is: "The seventh member was in a meeting" It seems as if, since in the author's own words, this was urgently important, the author could have politely asked to interrupt said meeting long enough to share.

Just admit it guys, when it comes to "process relativism", no one is immune. Call it the prerogative of the majority but then just admit that when you have the votes the process be damned in favor of political convenience.

Oh, can't say that, I forgot, all your friends are saints.

Infinonymous said...

Don't both of those issues -- whether a council member was reported to be available, whether a member was notified of an attempt to reach that member -- sound like staff issues?

Some staff conduct standards seem to have changed -- whether one elected official's staff member publicly criticizes another elected official, for example -- but the accepted procedure still appears to be that one member's staffer does not override the second member's staffer with respect to approaching the second member.

Is it your understanding that the author personally circulated the relevant document for signatures? Or was it the author's chief of staff?

Rev. Burgess' e-mail has been circulated to enough people that its contents should become available, enabling readers to judge it for themselves.

Any speculation concerning whether Rev. Burgess would have signed the subpoena authorization?

Bram Reichbaum said...

I don't think this is a big deal either way. Anon 4:11, if the majority did choose not to circulate the draft to anyone in the minority, doing so was not remotely violative either of law or of established process -- so that means it wasn't unethical of them to do so. Claiming to be "progressive" does not entail having to sacrifice strategic thinking forever and for all time. And Infin, just because somebody made a decision to sign a subpoena to hasten some documented info one oughtn't prejudge their likelihood of voting for the lease. Perhaps at that very moment it looked or sounded like that info might have been crucial to all; perhaps they were eager to demonstrate that they ARE interested in making an info-based decision; perhaps it was seen as a harmless way to demonstrate to "the other side" that they aren't entirely useless to them; perhaps it was a gentle way to remind the Mayor that certain items are lagging past due.

Anonymous said...


You're probably right. It is entirely unlikely that one member's staffer would override the second member's staffer, as it would probably be considered bad form.

But ultimately, that would only come into play if an actual attempt was made to reach that member, so of course, that all descends into conjecture, an altogether less-than-useful behavior given the gravity of the current moment.

Anonymous said...

Burgess & Smith wouldn't have signed it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:36

It's a process question, is it not? The outcome is irrelevant, n'est-pas?

Infy and I concluded hours ago that conjecture is just that -- conjecture

Infy, sounds like we found a winner in the "ends justify the means" sweepstakes!!!