A lawsuit from Allegheny County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Roddey alleges that Democrats on the County Council illegally met in secret on a proposed drink tax referendum. Roddey says a meeting July 8 violated the Sunshine Act and the county's home rule charter.
The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act bars closed-door meetings when a quorum is present, with some exceptions. Democrats hold an 11-4 majority on the council, and President Rich Fitzgerald says they have held caucus meetings with enough members to comprise a quorum. He maintains those meetings were informational only, and did not violate the Sunshine Act. Still, council Democrats agreed in late July not to caucus anymore.
Roddey says when he was County Chief Executive, he was taken to task for holding a lunch to welcome new members of the County Council. He says his solicitor advised him that holding the lunch violated the Sunshine Act, so after that he made sure that he met with no more than seven council members at a time. Some Democrats contend Roddey held multiple closed-door meetings with a quorum of council members.