Councilman Dan Gilman’s campaign finance and ethics reform bills received final approval from City Council Tuesday morning.
He said the bills are part of a “new era of transparency” in city government.
One of the bills revives the city’s defunct Ethics Hearing Board, which Gilman said hasn’t met in at least five years. It also puts whistleblower protections in place for those who report misconduct.
“If you see waste, fraud or abuse in your department, come forward,” Gilman said. “You have someone to go to where you can complain about your supervisor or department director, or the Mayor or a Council member, without any fear of retribution in terms of your job, punishment, your salary, etcetera.”
His campaign finance reform bill brings contribution limits in line with federal guidelines and requires candidates to report fundraising totals each month for the five months leading up to an election. They would also be limited to one campaign committee and bank account per elected office sought, and would be prohibited from transferring funds from one committee to another if they run for a different office in a subsequent election.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that city Controller Michael Lamb opposes the new rules, saying they actually help incumbents and penalize challengers because they take effect on November 4th, the day after this fall’s municipal elections. He argued that this allows incumbents such as Gilman to use money they’ve already raised for future re-election campaigns.
Gilman maintained that his legislation helps challengers, not incumbents.
“I want a challenger. I want people to push me to do a better job. I want people to feel they have a right to participate in the democratic process,” he said. “By putting campaign finance limits in, it caps what I can raise as an incumbent.”
Gilman said his next legislative effort will take him in a completely different direction. Next week, he hopes to introduce a bill that would clarify the rules around food trucks operating in the city.
“The food truck laws were written when there was nothing but an ice cream truck at your little league game,” he said. “For instance, you have to move every thirty minutes under city law. That’s impossible as a food truck; your grill’s just getting hot at 30 minutes.”
Gilman said food trucks are good for neighborhoods, bringing people out to the street, increasing retail traffic and improving public safety.
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