Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ethics reform: good news and bad news

  • Good news: Philadelphia's City Council committee approved the next round of Nutter ethics bills (also here), which would expand the recently approved limit on campaign contributions to contractors engaging in competitive bidding for city work, and would separately set up an independent Board of Ethics to oversee government operations.
    "Everyone who does business with the city now has to make a decision," Nutter said. "You either want to do business with the city and play by the same rules everybody else plays by, or you don't want to do business with the city and you want to make massive campaign contributions. But you're not going to be able to do both."
    There are a few amendments to be considered, but the full Council could vote on these measures as soon as early December. One suspects that they'll be markedly less controversial than the first round of discussions!

  • Bad news: Mayor Street says the ethics bill already passed will cost taxpayers $1 million to put in action.
    About $500,000 will be spent on a massive overhaul of the city's computerized system for tracking contracts, said deputy managing director Susan Kretsge. Other money will be spent on consultants and materials to educate vendors, the public and city staff, she said.
    Well, paperwork is what it is...

  • Good news: Philadelphia's new Inspector General looks like an excellent choice to both the Inquirer editorial page and the Daily News opinion page.
    The inspector general's job is likely a mystery to most Philadelphians, but that person has the important task of ferreting out wrongdoing by city employees. A recent probe of the Keep Philadelphia Beautiful program by that office uncovered alleged misspending that led to indictments.

    A Georgetown University law graduate, Williams worked in the district attorney's office for 10 years. In his election campaign, he stressed the need to crack down on government corruption and white-collar-crime.
    The right man at the right time to help restore the city's faith in its leaders.

  • Bad news: The Daily News also points out that not everybody is on board with the desire for ethics reform. Ms. Blackwell may still have time to see the light, before her disgruntled constituents giver her a first-hand demonstration of their feelings.

Update: Bad news or just perplexing? Dan at YPP looks at backlash against the independent auditor's office at the Phila. police department -- it's found real problems but taken nothing but flak along the way, and now critics want to let the top position lapse. Can that be right? (Are we still in the Rizzo era?!)


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