Monday, April 21, 2008

Philly, Vote NO! Tomorrow On Ballot Question #2

Regular readers of SYLG know that I rarely, if ever, tell someone whom or what to vote for on election day. Of course, I have strong opinions on the issues of the day - and I make them widely known - but I never tell anyone to vote for this candidate or that issue.

Until now.

Tomorrow, the city of Philadelphia is trying to implement shenanigans of the highest order. The city is trying to implement a change in the City Charter by having the electorate vote upon two ballot questions. Ballot Question #1 deals with the interaction between the City Representative and the Commerce Department. I couldn't care less.

Ballot #2, however, has far-reaching implications for many city departments, including the fire department and the police department. here is the ballot question, and its explanation:

In order to provide the Mayor with flexibility to enhance government operations, shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for additional management-level deputies, exempt from civil service, in City departments?

Currently, the Home Rule Charter limits most departments in the City to two management-level deputies exempt from civil service. All other employees of these departments must be in the civil service. Under civil service rules, all appointments must be based on the results of competitive examinations, and management-level appointments must be made by promotion up through the civil service ranks.

This proposed amendment would increase the number of management-level deputies who are exempt from civil service from two to a maximum of ten. This will provide department heads with the flexibility to hire their own management teams. (H/T - Committee of 70)

Sounds pretty harmless, doesn't it? Of course it does, because the Committee of 70 is all for it. Here is what this issue will mean to the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Philadelphia Police Department:

If this nonsense is passed, the respective commissioners will be able to hire high-ranking deputies from outside the department who will be exempt from civil service regulations. Basically, the commish can promote anyone he damn well pleases, and promote said person ahead of someone who rose through the ranks by taking (and passing) the civil service examinations.

Does anyone see the problem here yet?

Let's say Police Commissioner Ramsey has a close, personal female friend in Chicago. (He doesn't, this is a hypothetical only.) Said female friend was romantically involved with the commish and is a little down on her luck after losing her police job. If this vote goes through, Ramsey could hire his close, personal friend, and make her a deputy commissioner at the drop of a hat. He could then do the same for his cousin, his childhood friend, and his college roommate.

Now do you see the problem that can result from this vote? It could be nepotism and patronage gone amok. Why would anyone vote to allow something that could (conceivably) become such a problem?

The other problem is even more transparent. Why would the city try to push these charter changes through during a primary? More specifically, why would the city try to force this vote through this primary, when Republican voters are going to stay away from the polls? McCain is the presumptive nominee, and most Philadelphia folks on the GOP side of the aisle would be sitting this one out.

Votes to change the City Charter are almost always put forth during the general election, for obvious reasons. I have no problem with putting this issue up for a vote, but if it is going to be done, it should be done when the largest amount of voters are casting their ballots, instead of these backroom shenanigans. This move by the city is puzzling at best, sleazy at worst. The current administration here is chock full of Democrats, and the fire and police commissioners are of like minds. All of these people are going to be for the change because they will be able to reap the benefits of it.

These ballot issues may be completely innocent attempts by the administration to make what they feel are necessary changes, but the timing makes it look like they are doing something unethical.

Don't let them do it. Please vote NO on Ballot Question #2 tomorrow. Thank you.

UPDATE: Ballot Question #2 passed in a landslide. I guess for the majority of voters in Philadelphia, ignorance is bliss.

(Captain America has more on this disgrace HERE.)

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