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do you have a right to know what your councilman thinks?

today’s PG reports that city council candidate patrick dowd is requesting answers from incumbent len bodack:

Just askin’…

Pittsburgh Council challenger Patrick Dowd has taken the unusual step of filing an information request under the state right-to-know law with the office of his rival.

Mr. Dowd, of Highland Park, is trying to unseat Councilman Len Bodack, of Stanton Heights. Today his campaign released a letter asking for documentation of Mr. Bodack’s spending of city money, his staffing which includes numerous Allegheny County Democratic Committee members, any involvement of staff in campaign work, and his rental of council office space (with city funds) and a campaign office (with campaign funds) in the same building.

Mr. Dowd closes with a reference to Mr. Bodack’s refusal, to date, to debate.

“Because of your hesitance to appear publicly, and because the taxpayers have a right to learn the answers, I file the request for the following information in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law, which compels you to reply within 5 business days.”

Stay tuned for Mr. Bodack’s response.

Councilman Len Bodack, Jr.
4825 Butler St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
 
                                                     April 23, 2007
Dear Councilman Bodack,
 
As you know, the election is fast approaching.  Unfortunately, you have
refused to engage in debates at community events, in the media, or in even
in your office with only your supporters as an audience.
 
As I have said, a public discussion of issues and our respective records
is in the best interest of the public.  For that reason I have put out
platform documents and have articulated my positions very clearly.  You
have refused to do that.  I continue to answer questions about my record
on the school board but you have refused to do that publicly.  For that
reason, I respectfully request that you respond to the following
questions.  Because of your hesitance to appear publicly, and because the
taxpayers have a right to learn the answers, I file this request for the
following information in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law,
which compels you to reply within 5 business days.
 
It is in the tax payers’ best interest for you to answer the following
questions. Of course, if you have questions about my record and my
spending of tax payer dollars as a volunteer on the School Board, I am
happy to answer them.
 
1) Finances:
 
With regard to finances, your official Pittsburgh City Council website
provides incomplete spending records for your Pittsburgh City Council
office through 2006. You promised on February 28th at the Union Project to
update this record but have not complied.
 
I respectfully request that you provide taxpayers with your official City
Council spending records from March, 2003 through April, 2007 and that
those records be made public no later than April 30, 2007.  When providing
this information, please be sure to include operating and capital
expenditures.
 
Every voter must know exactly how you spent their hard-earned tax dollars.
 
2) Staff and Constituent Services:
 
Your current and former staff consists of Democratic Party Chairs of the
9th and 2nd Wards as well as Democratic Party Committee members from the
8th and 10th Wards.  Unfortunately, you have not listed all these
individuals by name on your official Pittsburgh City Council website.
 
I respectfully request that you immediately provide the public with a list
of all staff employed by you between March 2003 and the present, including
their salary, benefits, and job descriptions.
 
Again, every voter must know exactly how you spent their hard-earned tax
dollars.
 
In particular, I hereby request written receipts, invoices, contracts, and
work descriptions for any work done for your Pittsburgh City Council
office by Mr. Robert Kramm, who is Democratic Party Ward Chair for the 2nd
Ward of Pittsburgh and an advisor to your City Council campaign.  You
identified that he performed “Constituent Services for Seniors.”  I
respectfully request that you provide all the necessary supporting
documentation for this work.
 
Again, every voter must know exactly how you spent their hard-earned tax
dollars.
 
3) Staff time spent on government and campaign work:
 
Ms. Mary Kay Abdulovic, who is a member of the Democratic Party State
Committee, the Chair of the Committee to Elect Len Bodack, and a member of
your official Pittsburgh City Council staff, is seen regularly in your
downtown Pittsburgh City Council office at the City County building, and
continues to arrange government events for you, yet does not appear on
available staff listings.  Does she work as a volunteer for the
government? Is Mary Kay Abdulovic paid with Pittsburgh tax dollars or is
Mary Kay Abdulovic paid by your campaign?  Please provide time sheets for
any paid government work.
 
Mr. Ron Deutsch, Democratic Party Ward Chair of the 9th Ward as well as
member of your official Pittsburgh City Council staff, was present at the
Court of Common Pleas for the entire morning of Wednesday, March 21, 2007
when I defended my right to be on the ballot as a candidate for Pittsburgh
City Council in District 7. Did Mr. Deutsch take the day off or did
taxpayers pay for his work on behalf of your campaign?  Please provide any
relevant records, such as time sheets, to indicate that there is a clear
separation of his time spent working for the taxpayers of the City of
Pittsburgh and his time spent working for your campaign for re-election.
 
Again, every voter must know exactly how you spent their hard-earned tax
dollars.
 
4) Office:
 
You are one of only two council members currently being reimbursed by the
taxpayers of the City of Pittsburgh for satellite District offices. Your
District office, 4825 Butler St, is also the address of your campaign
office.  In some filings you note that the District office is housed on
the 2nd floor, in other filings no distinction is made.
 
In your campaign finance filings, you list the address of your office. 
However, in your campaign finance reports you make no mention of Rent Paid
or In-Kind Contributions received by the Committee to Elect Len Bodack. 
Of course, your father, former State Senator and former Chairperson of the
Allegheny County Democratic Committee, Leonard Bodack, Sr owns the
building at 4825 Butler Street.
 
Again, please explain to the taxpayers of Pittsburgh why the City of
Pittsburgh and Lawrenceville United, both of which receive taxpayer
dollars and engage in public service, pay thousands of dollars in rent to
your father while your campaign does not.
 
Additionally, please note the value of rent for your campaign office in
your campaign finance reports required by the Allegheny County Board of
Elections.
 
Again, every voter must know exactly how you spent their hard-earned tax
dollars.
 
Thank you for your prompt attention to these matters. I have cc’d relevant
employees of the City of Pittsburgh as you’ll see below.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
 
Patrick Dowd
 
 
Cc:
 
Mr. George Specter, City Solicitor
Ms. Linda Johnson Wasler, City Clerk
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