Term limits for members of City Council. Recently, I introduced legislation to impose term limits on members of City Council because I believe that having fresh faces and voices on Council will speed up progress and make things better for everyone in Philadelphia. Our city’s voters should have the opportunity to make their voices heard by putting this question on the ballot.
I believe that campaign finance reform is most important to making City Hall more transparent, accessible and responsive to voters. As the co-author of our current campaign finance legislation, I am a strong proponent of these reforms and believe that all gifts, services, and corporate PAC donations must be disclosed. Recently, I passed Bill # 190083 to require disclosures of contributions that are not affiliated with a campaign but are used to influence elections. Due to the Citizens United case, this legislation is needed to inform the public who is contributing “dark money” to individuals and organizations that are trying to influence our elections. I also introduced legislation to create a system of public financing of city elections. Finally, this legislation would also amend the Home Rule Charter in order to provide a ballot question for voters regarding public financing of city elections.
There needs to be an easier and more transparent way for citizens and residents of our city to both track legislation and provide feedback as bills move through City Council. This includes timely and public tracking of when bills are introduced, scheduled for hearings/votes, as they are amended, and when a final vote is scheduled. Additionally there should be multiple pathways for citizens to provide timely feedback on bills. This should not be a process known only to City Hall insiders and lobbyists. Rather, it's an opportunity for the broader public to stay informed about and weigh in on the legislative process.
I believe informed voters are the best way to ensure an accessible and responsive government. Therefore, transparency about the budget is critically important On January 21, 2016, I introduced a Charter bill that would create a Legislative Budget Office (bill #160019 & Resolution #160061) for Council.
The function of the office would be to: 1. investigate all matters related to the receipt, disbursement and use of public money, 2. independently estimate the actual costs and revenues of budget items, 3. analyze expenditures to help Council decide whether public money has been used well, 4. keep Council fully informed about fraud, waste and abuse, 5. produce reports, studies, analyses , conclusions and recommendations, 6. conduct continuing studies to enhance comparisons of budget outlays, credit authority and tax expenditures, 7. report expeditiously to the D.A., PA Attorney General or U.S. Attorney General, regarding criminal violations. Such information would be made public.
I believe the most important reform I could make as a City Councilwoman is to make the City’s annual budget process more transparent, accessible, and responsive to the voters. People deserve to know exactly where their tax dollars are being spent; down to the penny. Our citizens need to have confidence that their hard-earned money is not being wasted. I believe the best way to accomplish this is to have our citizens educated and engaged throughout the process in a way that is accessible and easily understandable. You should not need a degree in accounting to understand where your tax dollars are being spent. I would also consider adopting a “participatory budget” program where the voters have the opportunity to directly allocate a portion of the City’s budget on programs they choose. We must re-engage with our citizens and let them know they have a loud and important voice in the budgetary process.How the City allocates its $5+ billion operating budget impacts every Philadelphian.
We need campaign finance reform badly. Corporations, PACS, Independent Expenditures and wealthy individuals such as the Koch Brothers now exert far too much control over elections. As a result, private citizens have been so disenfranchised that they feel their vote doesn't even matter, so they don't bother voting at all. We as elected officials in Philadelphia need to aggressively advocate our state and federal counterparts to push for reform in the electoral process.
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Ending council prerogative would go a long way towards making council more open. It is nothing more and nothing less than councilmenbers and the city government conspiring to increase the member’s reelection hopes. It facilitates a back door culture that has led one current councilperson to be under federal indictment and at least one more under federal investigation.