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.”
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. ••