P.O. Box 1041

                                                                                                Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 USA

                                                                                                Telephone: 412-561-7876

                                                                                                Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >

                                                                                                Internet Web Site: < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

                                                                                                2004 June 15

 

Mr. John A. Brooks, Chairman, Board of Directors

Port Authority of Allegheny County

Heinz 57 Center

345 Sixth Avenue, Third Floor

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-2527

 

RE: Pennsylvania Sunshine Act Request

 

Dear Mr. Brooks:

 

I am in receipt of your letter of June 11, which replies to my request to address the Board of Directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County at the June 25 Board meeting. In particular, I note the first sentence of your letter:

 

“Regarding your letter of June 9, 2004, your request to speak to the Port Authority Board at its meeting of June 25, 2004 is respectfully denied.”

 

The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act [Act of July 3, 1986, P.L. 388, No. 84, 65 P.S. 271 et seq., as amended] provides for the following:

1)  Section 4 states: ”4. Open meetings.

Official action and deliberations by a quorum of the members of an agency shall take place at a meeting open to the public unless closed under section 7 (relating to exceptions to open meetings), 8 (relating to executive sessions) or 12 (relating to General Assembly meetings covered).”

2)  Section 10 states: “10. Rules and regulations for conduct of meetings.

Nothing in this act shall prohibit the agency from adopting, by official action, the rules and regulations necessary for the conduct of its meetings and the maintenance of order. The rules and regulations shall not be made to violate the intent of this act.”

3)  Section 10.1, Part a states: “10.1. Public participation.

(a) General Rule.--Except as provided in subsection (d), the board or council of a political subdivision or of an authority created by a political subdivision shall provide a reasonable opportunity at each advertised regular meeting and advertised special meeting for residents of the political subdivision or of the authority created by a political subdivision or for taxpayers of the political subdivision or of the authority created by a political subdivision or for both to comment on matters of concern, official action or deliberation which are or may be before the board or council prior to taking official action. The board or council has the option to accept all public comment at the beginning of the meeting. If the board or council determines that there is not sufficient time at a meeting for residents of the political subdivision or of the authority created by a political subdivision or for taxpayers of the political subdivision or of the authority created by a political subdivision or for both to comment, the board or council may defer the comment period to the next regular meeting or to a special meeting occurring in advance of the next regular meeting. The board or council has the option to accept all public comment at the beginning of the meeting.”

Section 10 permits a public agency or authority to adopt “the rules and regulations necessary for the conduct of its meetings and the maintenance of order.” The Port Authority of Allegheny County has done so with the Port Authority of Allegheny County Board Policy governing presentation by members of the public to the Board [located at Internet web address: < http://www.portauthority.org/grow/pgboardPolicy.asp >].

 

Mr. John A. Brooks                                             2004 June 15                                          Page 2 of 2

 

However, Section 10 also emphasizes that:

 “The rules and regulations shall not be made to violate the intent of this act.”

Section 10.1 clearly states:

“the board or council of...an authority… shall provide a reasonable opportunity at each advertised regular meeting and advertised special meeting for residents… or for taxpayers… or for both to comment on matters of concern…”

As with public meetings of Pittsburgh City Council, Allegheny County Council, Allegheny Regional Asset District, etc., any resident of the Port Authority Transit service area (which encompasses area beyond the boundary of the County of Allegheny) has the right, under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, to address the Port Authority Board at any—or every—publicly advertised meeting of the Board of Directors, provided they comply with the regulations set forth in the Board Policy.

My letter of June 9 complied fully with this Board Policy. Hence, Mr. Brooks, your denial of my request to speak before the Port Authority Board on June 25 , or at any advertised public meeting, is in violation of Section 10.1 Part a of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.

Now, Section 10.1 Part c. of the Sunshine Act provides:

“(c) Objection.--Any person has the right to raise an objection at any time to a perceived violation of this act at any meeting of a board or council of a political subdivision or an authority created by a political subdivision.”

So, if your decision is not reconsidered, I have the right under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act to verbally object to the proceedings, when the Board meeting agenda reaches the New Business section. As this objection is protected by the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, the chairman of the meeting does not have the right to rule me out-of-order; my objection must be heard and considered by the Board.

Due to these provisions of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, I, respectfully, ask that you reconsider your decision denying my request to address the Board on June 25.

Sincerely yours,

 

 

 

Glenn A. Walsh

 

gaw

 

Enclosures:           Letter to Glenn A. Walsh from John A. Brooks, 2004 June 11

                                Letter to John A. Brooks from Glenn A. Walsh, 2004 June 9

 

Copy:     Members of the Board of Directors, Port Authority of Allegheny County

                Dennis L. Veraldi, General Counsel, Port Authority of Allegheny County

                Dan Onorato, Chief Executive, County of Allegheny

                Members, County Council, County of Allegheny

                Ed Rendell, Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

                Bob O’Connor, Pennsylvania Governor’s Representative in Western Pennsylvania

                Local Delegation: Pennsylvania General Assembly

                Local Delegation: Congress of the United States of America

                News Media in Pittsburgh and Vicinity

                Public Transit Advocates and other interested parties