Pittsburgh City councilman Bruce Kraus taped a novelty-sized fundraising thermometer to his office door last week in hopes of raising cash to cover $10,706 in legal bills he's splitting with colleagues Bill Peduto, the Rev. Ricky Burgess and council President Doug Shields.What's wrong here?
The councilmen racked up the legal charges in a zoning appeal and lawsuit against an electronic billboard Lamar Advertising built Downtown.
The four abstained from a vote Tuesday that would have made city taxpayers pick up the tab for the legal services.
City lawyers had warned the four that they were dangerously close to committing a conflict of interest because paying the bill would be the same as forcing taxpayers to cover a "personal debt."
The councilmen haven't exactly turned out to be major rainmakers. The council members this week will try to build on initial donations of $3.99 - a mere 0.03 percent of their goal.
Lamar Advertising started this whole messs. Lamar got dinged for putting up a sign for private use / profit on public property without the advance clearances and proper proceedures.
So lets review what Bruce Kraus does in his efforts to keep the folly sustained.
Bruce uses public property, a door in city hall, to place advertising messages that are NOT allowed. Kraus posts a sign for personal profit in city hall. The procedure and ethics battle grounds extend.