Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wednesday: Rise and Shine

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority board did not get to vote on whether to allow an electronic billboard on the Grant Street Transportation Center, adding a possible Sunshine Act violation to the sign-related issues that will be the subject of a special Pittsburgh City Council meeting this afternoon. (P-G, Rich Lord)

If this is what a Sunshine Act does, we want more of it.


In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, the [Planning] commission decided to take no action on the proposed nomination of the former Workingmen's Savings Bank on East Ohio Street as a city historic structure after North Side groups and residents offered mixed views of the designation, with some favoring it and some opposed. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Trust us. This one only gets better and better.


Nine of 10 speakers at a public hearing yesterday on proposed city of Pittsburgh campaign finance reform favored the idea, but the lone opponent was a representative of organized labor, a powerful political force. (P-G, Rich Lord)



The show at Carnegie Science Center uses flayed, dissected and posed bodies from China without consent from the deceased or their relatives. Premier Exhibitions of Atlanta, the show's promoter, says the corpses were unclaimed and legally obtained in China, and that the people died of natural causes. But a recent ABC report alleged that some of Premier's cadavers came from executed prisoners and linked the shows to a global market of body trafficking. (P-G, Sally Kalson)

If museums are supposed to make us think, well done.


Frankly, I blame our younger generation. These kids, with their hip and their hop, their iPods and their energy drinks, don't play these games the way their parents and grandparents do. (P-G, Brian O'Neill)

That was awesome.


  1. what is the consequence of violating the sunshine act?

  2. Section 13. Business transacted at unauthorized meeting void

    A legal challenge under this act shall be filed within 30 days from the date of a meeting which is open, or within 30 days from the discovery of any action that occurred at a meeting which was not open at which the act was violated, provided that, in the case of a meeting which was not open, no legal challenge may be commenced more than one year from the date of said meeting. The court may enjoin any challenged action until a judicial determination of the legality of the meeting at which the action was adopted is reached. Should the court determine that the meeting did not meet the requirements of this act, it may in its discretion find that any or all official action taken at the meeting shall be invalid. Should the court determine that the meeting met the requirements of this act, all official action taken at the meeting shall be fully effective. The court may impose attorney fees for legal challenges commenced in bad faith. 1986. July 3. P.L. 388, No. 84, effective in six months.

    Notice the broad, expansive penalty for violating the provisions of the Sunshine Act during a governmental meeting. The penalty provides for a ruling that all actions taken at the meeting may be declared invalid. This section also contains the statute of limitations for the Act, which includes a 30 day statute of limitations on bringing suit against alleged violations occurring during a meeting open to the public; or 30 days from the discovery of the allegedly illegal action which was conducted at a meeting not open to the public.

    Section 14. Penalty

    Any member of any agency who participates in a meeting with the intent and purpose by that member of violating this act commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding $100 plus costs of prosecution. 1986, July 3, P.L. 388, No. 84, effective in six months.

    This section applies to criminal prosecution, and allows the County District Attorney or the state Attorney General to assess a fine upon the individuals guilty of violating the Sunshine Act.

  3. Section 13: Of course this is necessary, but sadly insufficient. Too often, the original action is settled upon in the minds of the body politic with a collective inertia, and is simply repeated with a hasty coating of transparency. Seen it a million times.

    Section 14: Although a fine of $100 is too low to matter and properly so, the embarrassment of prosecution and conviction should be a convincing deterrent for all involved. However, this is the point at which offended parties are told to cool it -- what are you doing, grinding some political ax? Sadly, the body politic is bullied out of carrying out unpleasant but necessary obligations, if we are not only to have Sunshine Laws on the books, but enjoy the real benefits of transparently conducted government.