The Pittsburgh Ethics Hearing Board met for just under half an hour today. Acting city solicitor George Specter was on hand to assist this first meeting of all five members.
(UPDATE: See also the Trib's Mike Wereschagin: "They came. They met. They set another meeting date.")
The first order of business was electing a chairperson. Sister Patrice Hughes was nominated, and quickly won unanimous approval. She quipped that her unopposed election was "in the tradition of Mayor Ravenstahl and Onorato," ha-ha-ha.
Kathleen Buechel was elected vice-chair.
The board discussed whether or not they should employ a stenographer, which led to some inquiries to Specter about the board's budget, including a broader budget for the investigatory requirement in the handbook. His careful answers seemed to satisfy them.
The board then decided to meet on the second Friday of each month, so the next meeting is planned for Friday June 8th.
Chairwoman Hughes brought up the issue of the city Redd Up crew, acknowledging her awareness through media reports that the mayor intended for the Board to address this during the present meeting. Hughes asked if anyone knew of the mayor's office providing some direction, outside of what was heard through the media. Nobody answered.
A board member said that they were under the impression that Specter would take the lead on that issue today. Specter indicated that was not the case.
Moving forward, the board talked more about process: how to launch investigations on their own initiative, and how to select independent parties to handle them. They were curious to discover the "best practices" of other government ethics boards. Someone suggested that an "ethics cheat-sheet" be put together, which is an oxymoron, ha-ha-ha.
The meeting adjourned, and Rich Lord ambled over to Specter and the rest of the gang for comments.