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Pittsburgh charter amendment can't appear on Nov. ballot, appeals court rules

| Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, 3:12 p.m.

A state appeals court agreed with an Allegheny County judge Monday that a controversial Pittsburgh charter amendment proposal should be kept off the November ballot.

OpenPittsburgh.org is seeking to put a question on November's ballot that would amend the city's charter to require more information be posted online and establish a citizens advisory committee.

The city of Pittsburgh challenged whether the group had gathered enough valid signatures or could properly encapsulate a sweeping amendment in a 75-word question on a petition or ballot.

County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James ruled Sept. 20 that OpenPittsburgh failed to follow part of a federal judge's order that gave them more time to gather signatures using canvassers from outside Pennsylvania, which invalidated enough signatures to drop the group's total below the 7,582 needed to put their amendment to a vote. The Commonwealth Court affirmed James' ruling Monday.

OpenPittsburgh attorney Larry Otter said he was “astonished” by the court's ruling, but was out of the country Monday and unable to say whether the group intends to appeal the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Kevin Acklin, chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto, released a statement reiterating that the city would welcome meetings with the petitioners “to further advance transparency and accountability in city government.”

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412 391 0927 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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