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Heyl: Perhaps it's time to put to rest nearly nonexistent ICA

| Thursday, April 7, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Henry Sciortino, executive director of the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Henry Sciortino, executive director of the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

This government agency already teeters on the brink of nonexistence.

Why not snuff out entirely the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority's vague sort of half-life?

State lawmakers should ask themselves that question in light of a Tribune-Review investigation into the agency they established in 2004 to oversee the city's finances. The Trib's stories have prompted the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office to initiate a criminal probe of the authority's activities.

What Jason — the indestructible killer in the “Friday the 13th” movies — is to libidinous teenagers, authority executive director Henry Sciortino appears to have been to the agency's most vital records — a relentless, merciless slayer, only without a hockey mask.

Sciortino, the authority's only employee, seems to have destroyed or lost virtually all documentation between 2010 and 2016 regarding agency expenditures, spending receipts and bank records. Years of meeting minutes and transcripts and an undetermined number of contracts are missing as well.

Oh, and Sciortino, who is paid $12,000 a month, isn't adept at filing mandatory financial disclosure statements. The state Ethics Commission is investigating why he hasn't submitted any since 2005, when George W. Bush was beginning his second term.

I'm guessing the reason for that decade-long omission is that Sciortino was too busy destroying the authority's financial documents to find time to file the required forms. Or perhaps he believed no one would suspect someone who indiscriminately purges vital paperwork of ethically dubious conduct.

The financial records aren't the only thing the authority is missing. Also absent is any information on the authority's website, save for a note that the site is under construction. By contrast, the website for Three River Stadium, which was demolished 15 years ago, still provides an informative history of the long-gone venue.

If you arrive unannounced at the authority's Market Square office to inquire about why it doesn't have a functioning website 12 years after it was established, you'll likely be as out of luck as I was when I stopped there Thursday. All that's provided on the authority listing on the building intercom is a phone number to call to schedule an appointment.

Sciortino apparently spends most of his workdays in the field, attempting to fulfill the agency's mission by searching for other government employees with whom he can cooperate.

A message I left at the number provided wasn't returned.

To summarize: The authority has virtually no financial records, a website containing no information and an office as impenetrable as a medieval castle with a moat.

The sum of the authority's parts ­­— which appear to consist only of Sciortino, a paper shredder and the black hole into which the agency's most important records were sucked — doesn't amount to much.

This isn't a watchdog agency, it's an ethereal wraith.

With the exception of Sciortino, would anyone notice if it was gone?

Eric Heyl is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com

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