Northeast Times

Councilman proposes to change City Charter

City Councilman David Oh visits Northwood Civic Association session to discuss an amendment that would allow elected officials to run for offices other than their own without resigning.

City Coun­cil­man Dav­id Oh, who re­cently has been mak­ing the rounds of neigh­bor­hood meet­ings, on April 15 talked up his pro­pos­al to change the City Charter at the North­wood Civic As­so­ci­ation ses­sion at St. James Church on Castor Av­en­ue.

The at-large Re­pub­lic­an urged res­id­ents to vote for an amend­ment to the charter that would al­low elec­ted of­fi­cials to run for of­fices oth­er than their own without resign­ing. The pro­pos­al, which is on the May 20 bal­lot, would give the city more in­flu­ence in state gov­ern­ment if ap­proved, Oh said.

Cur­rently, city em­ploy­ees who seek any elec­ted of­fices oth­er than their own must resign to run for those posts. A city coun­cil­man cam­paign­ing for re-elec­tion doesn’t have to quit, Oh told res­id­ents. If, however, that coun­cil mem­ber wanted to seek a state le­gis­lat­ive seat or a con­gres­sion­al post, he would have to leave of­fice. Sim­il­arly, a coun­cil mem­ber’s aide who wants to run for any seat would have to resign to run.

The amend­ment be­fore voters May 20 would change only part of the charter. Elec­ted city of­fi­cials could run for oth­er of­fices without resign­ing, but nonelec­ted of­fi­cials still would have to resign. All mem­bers of City Coun­cil voted to put this charter amend­ment on the bal­lot, Oh said. However, Oh’s own party is not on board with the idea.

Phil­adelphia Re­pub­lic­ans over­whelm­ingly voted against sup­port­ing the amend­ment on April 14 and are ur­ging voters to say no to Pro­posed Charter Change Ques­tion No. 2 on May 20, ac­cord­ing to Joe De­Fe­lice, the party’s ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or.

“Cur­rently, if someone in City Hall wants to run for an­oth­er of­fice, they have to quit first,” De­Fe­lice wrote in an April 17 news re­lease. “City Coun­cil wants to change that so they can cam­paign for a dif­fer­ent of­fice while the tax­pay­ers are pay­ing them to do their job. To that we say: ‘Not on our dime!’ ”

It’s all about pull with­in state gov­ern­ment, Oh said, and polit­ic­al in­flu­ence will be­ne­fit the city. When the City Charter was writ­ten more than a half-cen­tury ago, the idea was to keep city of­fice­hold­ers on the straight and nar­row, the coun­cil­man said. However, no oth­er pub­lic of­fi­cials in the state are sub­ject to the same rules, he told the crowd April 15. 

“We have ended up with less in­flu­en­tial politi­cians,” Oh said. Politi­cians aren’t priests, Oh said. “Resign-to-run didn’t get us bet­ter eth­ics. It got us less in­flu­ence.”

Even Phil­adelphia’s state le­gis­lat­ors can run for oth­er posts without resign­ing. It’s just the city of­fice­hold­ers and oth­er city em­ploy­ees that are so lim­ited.

“What I’m ask­ing people to do is give the politi­cians of Phil­adelphia the same clout every­body else has,” he said.

Al­low­ing city of­fice­hold­ers to seek state of­fices without resign­ing will al­low more of them to get in­volved in state elec­tions and in­crease the city’s par­ti­cip­a­tion in state af­fairs.

“Even if they don’t win, they en­gage the state,” Oh said. “It’s an­oth­er tool in our tool­box.”

If the charter’s resign-to-run clause were re­moved, Oh said, that would set Phil­adelphia’s politi­cians loose — yes, like every­where else — and the city would have more people go­ing after what the city needs from state gov­ern­ment.

“We used to have politi­cians who brought money and re­spect to our city,” Oh said. But facts have to be faced, he ad­ded. “Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats out­side of Phil­adelphia don’t like the people of Phil­adelphia.”

LOC­AL UP­DATES

Renov­a­tions at the old Frank­ford Com­munity Y build­ing at Ar­rott and Leiper streets has stopped, said Joe Krause, the civic as­so­ci­ation’s pres­id­ent.

Krause said at­tor­ney Frank Ben­nett, who re­cently ac­quired the prop­erty, said he’s look­ing for a new con­tract­or. The one ini­tially slated to do the work re­portedly said the job was too much work, so Ben­nett is look­ing for some­body new.

Krause said the as­so­ci­ation is wait­ing to get a good copy of the dec­ades-old Burk Deed Re­stric­tion and will put it on the web once it’s in hand. The deed re­stric­tion, of­ten cited when zon­ing ques­tions come be­fore the group, lim­its the use of many North­wood prop­er­ties to single-fam­ily homes.

The city is go­ing after the people who put up so-called “ban­dit signs” by what seems like a policy of an­noy­ing them. The signs are usu­ally small signs il­leg­ally placed on pub­lic prop­erty, util­ity poles, private prop­erty or trees. One res­id­ent said the city is now us­ing re­pet­it­ive auto­mat­ic phone calls, or “rob­ocalls,” to call num­bers lis­ted on those il­leg­al signs every 15 minutes to pester the people who placed them. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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