Friday, August 28, 2009

City Council Gives Preliminary OK on G20 Money, Wants County to Pitch In

City council voted today to give preliminary approval for the G20 funds requested by Public Safety Director Michael Huss. In all, he is asking for $16 million, 14.3 of which will come from grants from the state and federal government. That leaves $1.7 million for the city to cover, and a number of council members expressed frustration at the lack of financial support coming from Allegheny County. Council member Bill Peduto said he would write a letter to County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, and compared the lack of funding to the county throwing a party and having the city pick up the tab. He said that Pittsburgh residents shouldn't carry the entire financial burden. Huss told council that he anticipates using all of the funds and will have stringent accountability standards for all the money and overtime hours. He plans to use a model similar to the one they implemented during the Baseball All-Star Game in 2006.

During the public comment section, a number of speakers reminded council members that as they consider public safety measures they shouldn't allow first amendment rights to be tossed aside. Protest organizer Casey Capitolo acknowledged that security officers would need a space to operate during the summit, but said that Point State Park was the wrong venue, because it is a public space that numerous protesters are planning to use for educational purposes and demonstrations. Beth Pittinger of the Citizen's Review Board wondered where the code of conduct was for police officers and their treatment of protesters.

Council is waiting to vote on the conduct ordinances–which include wearing masks and using certain types of obstructive materials during the summit–until after a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, September 2 at 1:30PM.

No comments: