Allegheny County Council declines to meet in suburbs
PITTSBURGH: Allegheny County Councilman Tom Shumaker, R-Pine, lost his bid Tuesday night to move some council meetings into the suburbs.
Shumaker, who made a similar failed proposal last year, said he wanted to give suburban residents more access to their county government.
'I do think it would be a good idea to have some council meetings outside Grant Street,' he said.
The proposal failed by a 8-5 vote.
Shumaker, whose suburban district includes a portion of the Valley, asked that two to five meetings each year be moved to suburban locations. Usually, council meets twice each month in the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh.
At-large Councilman Dave Fawcett, R-Oakmont, agreed.
'I think it would raise the profile of the government as well as improve accessibility for the public,' Fawcett said.
Other council members, however, said making the meetings mobile would be too difficult.
'The logistics of transporting all of our support, staff and services is too complicated,' Councilman Rich Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, said. 'I think we need to revisit televising our meetings so people can see what is going on instead.'
Other council members also said they thought the job of taking county government out among the people best fell to County Executive Jim Roddey because one man can move more easily than a 15-member council.
And many council members said they thought the executive did a good job of visiting the suburbs.
Council members also seemed to agree that the five-member council committees should schedule more meetings outside of the courthouse.
The parks committee, for example, has plans to meet in each of the county parks, they said. This is a more workable way to move some council functions away from downtown, they said.
Councilwoman Eileen Klein, D-Scott, said she opposed moving regular council meetings for safety reasons. On winter nights, she said, she didn't want to require council members and staff to drive on snow-covered roads to distant meeting sites.
'I think there is a lot to be said for the courthouse being a suburban location,' Wagner said.
Shumaker pushed the council to consider his plan and vote Tuesday night because he said the similar proposal he made a year ago died in committee.
'I think the people of Allegheny County would like to see their government,' Shumaker said.
Wynne Everett can be reached at email@example.com .