Political campaigning in council chambers? I've never seen the like | Blogh


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Political campaigning in council chambers? I've never seen the like

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Jeff Koch's political campaign took its ethics allegations against city councilor Bruce Kraus right into council chambers today -- a move Kraus dismissed as a "stunt."

Tim Brinton, who is the campaign manager for Koch's effort to replace Kraus in the May primary, presented council with a petition with 25 signatures, requesting a hearing on the city's campaign-finance law. Brinton used the meeting's public-comment period to accuse Kraus of violating the law -- and of "hypocrisy" -- for accepting contributions in larger than what a candidate can recieve in a single election.

Kraus "campaigned as a progressive yet he does not follow the laws that he, himself, wrote," Brinton said. "If our legislators don't follow the law, how do they expect the citizens of this city to follow the law?"

By contrast, Brinton lauded Councilor Ricky Burgess, a mayoral ally who proposed legislation to overturn the limits -- and who is refusing to release his own campaign finance reports, which he says is a gesture of protest.  Burgess, said Brinton, is "the only one on this council who stood up to the hypocrisy." (Brinton's admiration comes a little late: He previously issued a statement naming Burgess among incumbent scofflaws ... on account of the fact that Burgess hadn't filed his report.)

Dawn Jones King, the president of the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council, also took Kraus to task for his campaign contributions -- and for other perceived shortcomings.

During her own public comment, she said she had a good working relationship with the district's past council representative. But since Kraus took office, she said, "I have not received that type of respect" -- and her neighborhood had been losing funding.

Later in the meeting, Kraus called the appearances a "campaign stunt." Brinton's salary, he said, "is being paid for by Luke Ravenstahl and Charlie Zappala." That's a reference to the fact, first reported here last week, that Ravenstahl and Zappala -- who featured prominently in a Post-Gazette series about alleged backroom dealings -- have contributed to Koch's campaign.

Kraus also cast aspersions on Dawn Jones King, who he said wanted city workers to clean a privately-owned lot -- something Kraus charged that Koch did, but that Kraus was not willing to do. (As an aside, King's Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council has been the target of some concern regarding the money it does get. We wrote about its travails last fall.) As if to demonstrate that he was too busy to worry about such paltry accusations, Kraus then moved to a (somewhat unnecessary, it seemed to me) discussion of plans to demolish a building that had recently caught fire. 

And then he wished good luck to everyone running for election next week.

At this point, the major question here is: What the hell is happening to this family? We hope to have some thoughts on that by the end of the day.