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Aug 13

No Open Government in Pittsburgh

political cartoon by Ben Sargent from 12/13/01Recently I highlighted a grassroots effort to make Pittsburgh's government more open to public scrutiny – or return it to that state, as the case happens to be. Sadly, that effort has met with failure.

"Pittsburghers won't have a chance to vote for an 'open government' referendum on Nov. 8, but they will be able to vote for the referendum's creator — longtime activist and Squirrel Hill resident David Tessitor."

"Tessitor, former head of Pittsburghers for Open Government, is running for mayor as an independent candidate."

….

"The referendum needed 8,493 signatures to get on the November ballot, and a group of 100 volunteers managed to collect about half that number over the last seven weeks, Tessitor said."

I'm less than impressed for a few reasons. 1) A non-Democrat hasn't a chance in hell of getting elected in this yellow dog city. 2) He's a complete unknown. 3) If his campaign is as disorganized as the Open Pittsburgh petition effort, he'll still be an unknown on election day.

Expanding on #3, take a look at the Open Pittsburgh website. The news page hasn't been updated since the site was created. I'm also skeptical that only around 4,000 people in the city care about this issue enough to would be willing to at least put a referendum on the ballot. Surely more people could have been reached with a more organized and enthusiastic effort. I don't mean to totally trash the effort. I still agree with the proposed referendum. I just think that Tessitor could have learned a few lessons from Bob Brigham and Tim Tagaris or perhaps Grassfire.org.

"He said Pittsburghers for Open Government will conduct a new signature campaign either during the winter or next summer."

When they do, I'll let you folks know. I'll help spread the word however I can.

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