- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Philadelphia Daily News
Open government can be a real pain in the butt.
It is something easy to promise during a campaign. And there are some facets of open government that are easy and palatable- like the Mayor putting his daily itinerary online. But, and I mean this without any sarcasm whatsoever- truly open government can be a real pain for those in power. That is true even for a new Mayor who I think genuinely believes in transparency and sunshine.
I bring this up because yesterday, this happened:
Mayor Nutter, who ran for office on a promise of making City Hall business more transparent, yesterday tried to have reporters removed from a budget briefing that he held for City Council.
A Nutter aide, joined by a police officer, insisted that the briefing was a private matter. Reporters, citing the state's Sunshine Act on public meetings, refused to leave.
After some debate, Nutter started the briefing by saying that the briefing could be private if Council didn't deliberate or make any decisions.
"I'm not going to waste anybody's time arguing about it," said Nutter, adding that he reserves the right in the future to hold private briefings.
Reporters remained for the 30-minute briefing.
The article summarizes the Sunshine Act pretty effectively, and I encourage you to read it. What they Mayor was trying to do was to get around the Act so that he and Council could negotiate on the budget, making any official meetings more formalities than anything else. This is a page straight out of the worst days of the SEPTA Board, where they would meet privately, decide to hike fares, then publicly come out and vote. It is unacceptable for a guy who campaigned the way Nutter did, with ambitious promises about how government would conduct its business.
I really hope those close to the Mayor will hold him accountable here, because his position- that he can meet in private as long as he gives a legalistic definition of "deliberations," is far from the best practices of open government that he promised. I don't think this means he is evil or doesn't think open government is a good thing. But, I do think it shows that certain promises are a lot easier to make when you aren't in power. And when you really have a couple things you would like to hash out with City Council without those damn reporters listening in, this is what you do.
Additionally, you can read between the lines a little and tell that the media present in the room felt bullied by the Mayor to leave (ie, the presence of the police officer, etc). So, to the City Hall press corp- from Patrick Kerkstra of the Inquirer, and Catherine Lucey and Chris Brennan of the Daily News, to Mike Dunn from KYW and Susan Phillips of WHYY (see her account at It's Our Money)- a big, big thank you comes from all of us who believe in both the importance of the media as a watchdog, and in open government generally.
Later today, we will have yet another official open records request for the City. In the meantime though, it is cool that members of the local media have the back of those who believe that sunshine is the biggest disinfectant.
I don't think anything in my latest op-ed will be news to anyone who regularly reads Young Philly Politics. First, poverty is Philadelphia's biggest issue. Second, Bread and Roses Community Fund supports dozens of worthy organizations that are working to find a solution to this difficult problem.
Give to them now! Click here to give a gift to the whole city.
Funding grassroots start-ups
Philadelphia Daily News, 12/18/07
By BEN WAXMAN
During the holiday season, our contributors are highlighting the miraculous work done by some local nonprofits and charities.
A FRIEND recently visited Philadelphia.
He was driving from western Pennsylvania, and there was a huge accident on the turnpike. He took a back way into the city, and wound up driving right through some of the worst pockets of poverty in Philadelphia.
It was a side of the city he'd never seen, though he'd visited half a dozen times. He was taken aback at the abandoned houses, streets in disrepair and vacant storefronts. He'd only been in Center City and adjacent areas, so the poverty was invisible.
Every year at this time, Philadelphians are asked to give to organizations that provide a warm coat or hot meal to a family in need. These are certainly worthy, but I want to live in a city where homeless shelters are obsolete. If you make a donation to Bread and Roses Community Fund, you'll be supporting work to end poverty in Philadelphia.
Today, in Gar Joseph's column "Clout," an article appeared about GOP City Council Candidate David Oh, and it said this:
GO to a political event, there's David Oh.
Go for a drive, he's on a billboard.
Look on YouTube, he's got a video.
Check the Web, he's got a site. Open your newspaper, there's his full-page ad.
We recently went to Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan's swearing-in ceremony. David Oh was holding the flag in a military honor guard.
That's a lot of Oh. He's running for City Council at large, which could be the fall election's most competitive race.
He's been endorsed by the Libertarians on the right and Young Philly Politics on the left. He has the backing of labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce political-action committee. He's been supported by gay groups and by fundamentalist ministers.
Somebody must be confused.
I know who is confused: Gar Joseph.
Young Philly Politics has not, and will not endorse David Oh running for City Council. Ain't gonna happen. I might like to see him win, but no, we will not endorse him.
Why? Well, for starters, he is a Republican. So, there is that. And while I know party labels in Philly are 'interesting,' I would never endorse someone who in 2006 passed out literature and did GOTV work for Rick Santorum and Lynn Swann. I understand with the system we have on Council, that the minority party seats could be won by a progressive. But if that was the goal, that person could do it under the Green party, Working Families Party, etc. Not the party of George Bush and Rick Santorum.
Gar is a good writer, generally 'gets' the internet (as Philly sports bloggers know) and I am sure we will get a correction. But again, no, we do not endorse David Oh.