Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday round-up -- pre-election edition

  • Last-minute candidate scrambling

    • Senate candidates rev up their bases.

    • Swann continues to push (against dim poll predictions).

    • Surprise news: suburban House races tight. no, really?

    • Sestak campaign has weekend of GOTV fervor -- I'm sure many campaigns have had similar schedules.

    • Presumed mayoral candidates prefer not to talk about how tomorrow's results could affect their plans. Or they say they won't be affected.

  • Voter info
    I recommend that anybody uncertain about election logistics buy today's Inquirer, which has pages in the first section devoted to polling place locations, listing every person on every ballot by region, and even walking you through the process with photos of the machines. The same information does not appear to be mirrored online, so you'll have to consult various sources to put together for yourself the things you need.

    • Unsure where to vote? See this or this site to enter your address and find out.

    • First time voting in this area? Here's a primer on the machines. (Also, if it's your first time at your current address, be sure to bring a photo ID.)

    • Philly Future has an assortment of links to other resources and tools.

    • The Daily News summarizes the ballot questions that will appear tomorrow.

  • Recommendations

    • Inquirer summarizes its PA state-level endorsements today, and yesterday they summarized their higher office endorsements for both sides of the river.

    • The three ballot questions attract a mixed batch of recommendations which are hard to sort out. The DN piece linked above mentions the major party positions on only the statewide matter. The DN gives its own recommendations and rationales here, which can be compared and contrasted with those of the Inquirer, which appeared Friday here.

    • You may or may not be interested in my own opinions. If so, here are some.

      • In the races that I have followed, I'm pretty much favoring a straight Democratic vote this year, with the possible exceptions of McIlhinney for State Senate, and the 7th District City Council race, where I make no preference. In all the major races in the greater Philadelphia area, I really think that the Democratic slate is strong, offering some exciting opportunities to improve how our nation and our region are governed, and I encourage supporting them. Will be keeping my fingers crossed for the excellent but slightly long-shot candidacy of Tim Kearney in the Northeast Philly area, where he's taking on Perzel.

      • I differ from both major papers in my feelings about the ballot issues. (However, I also feel radically unclear on the history or context of most of them, so I'm not as clear on the choices as I'd like to be.)

        1. On the statewide question, concerning belated compensation for veterans, I make no recommendation -- surely we are acutely aware of the hard lives of veterans, and it's nice that PA has usually offered them something, but this strange option to have a bond issue 15 years after the fact strikes me oddly -- why can't the legislators agree to fund it? Not sure what I'll do myself.

        2. On the first local issue, having to do with minority contracting, I think it's good to have benchmarks and accountability, and both parties appear to support this move. I'm just not sure why you need a charter change to require a report, and I can imagine future problems with that system. But, on balance, perhaps a qualified yes; use your own judgement.

        3. On the second local measure, I find that I have a stronger opinion. The measure would attempt to compensate the families of police officers and fire fighters who are killed in the line of duty, by giving their children hiring preferences for civil service jobs (adding a few points to their exam scores). The argument is made that a similar benefit is offered to veterans. However, this parallel and thus this innovation seem misguided to me. (a) A distinction should be made between preferences offered to those who have sacrificed for the public (and perhaps lost seniority, training time, etc. to overseas service) and compensation offered to those who have lost a loved one (to war, or to high-risk jobs like fire-fighting). Certainly there should be survivor benefits for families who lose a parent on the job, but I would think that their need would be more immediate than to bump up their children's employment chances, possibly decades later. Better would be a scholarship fund, etc. (b) Do we really want to expand the amount of nepotism and unfairness in the construction and operation of local government, just at a time when we're working for increased transparency and ethics reform? I think that good government principles dictate hiring the best qualified people you can find, for every level of civil service. So, much as I admire those who protect and serve our city, I recommend a vote against this well-meaning but misguided measure.

      Not sure how much help that is, but something to chew on, anyway...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The purpose for an amendment to the Home Rule Charter is to ensure that the Executive Branch is held accountable on this issue. The City's Law Department issued an opinion that "contracting" is an Executive Power under the Charter, and therefore City Council can not legislate on contracting issues without changing the Charter. The citizens deserve a fair and open process for the $600 million in for-profit contracting of goods and services that occurs each year. So we have to make it a charter-mandated responsibility of the Executive Branch - or other laws passed by City Council will be ignored..

5:10 PM  

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