Thursday, March 24, 2005

Philly City Council: Our City's Embarrasment

This seems like the perfect follow-up to my post about the failure of the Street administration and City Council to enact meaningful tax reform. Another day, another failure for John Street and his supporters on City Council, as they defeated Michael Nutter's ethics bill. It fell one vote short, as 5 council members voted against it.

Of course, this bill did not just appear out of nowhere. Rather, it emerged in the aftermath of an FBI probe of the city and the awarding of contracts in return for campaign donations and gifts. The federal case is unfolding now, and everyone needs to go here for a great overview of this whole seedy affair. It will make crystal clear the need for ethics legislation, and increased scrutiny on our pols and their actions.

In the face of this trial and massive evidence of corruption at the highest levels of city government, 5 members of City Council and the Mayor decided to kill legislation aimed at cleaning up Philly government. It is an embarrasment for these people, and should be a real wake-up call for those concerned about the future of the city.

Most stunning is the excuses given by these 5 cowards, excuses so weak and idiotic that they should be embarrassed to utter them aloud. Tom Ferrick does a great job ridiculing these 5, calling them out for what they are: idiots. Jill Porter wonders what these dissenters were doing over the last 5 months as this legislation was written and debated. It's a great question in lieu of their complaints over the effects of specific parts of the bill, which were written months ago. Why didn't they speak up then, for the love of G-d!

While their excuses and thoughts are idiotic, it is clear that they know exactly what they are doing. They don't want ethics reform, plain and simple. They don't want to clean up government, because they are the ones profiting off the sleaze. They see their offices as personal fiefs, a chance to profit on their power. They're not embarrassed by any of this, because they don't care what we, the citizens, think.

Their lame excuses make clear that they think we are idiots, that we can't see their lies for what they are. This bill was a gutted version of the original, as Michael Nutter watered down the original. Council fought against a nepotism sanction, because they feel that their position should allow them to benefit their families at taxpayers' cost. They didn't want an outside ethics commission, since an independent oversight would be outside of their control. Nor did they want any prohibition on outside employment, despite salaries of $100,000. But, of course, we all know why their excuses sound hollow. They were never really going to support reform, because the status quo benefits them.

I completely agree with this editorial, as these 5 men and women- Jannie Blackwell, Rick Mariano, Donna Reed Miller, Marian Tasco, and Darrell Clarke- should forever be enshrined in a Hall of Shame, tainted with this vote for life. They voted for their own interests, wishing to protect their cash cow and their insider benefits that have hurt the city for decades. They voted against the interests of the people of this city, those of us who do not have any connections, who can't grease the wheels, and who believe deeply in this city and its greatness.

I am angry and embarrassed to live in this city after this vote, ashamed to see our so-called leaders sabotage the hard work and progress of recent. These 5 and our Mayor have shown what side they are on, the side of the status quo, cronyism and corruption. They stand on the side of their own interests, not the side of Philadelphia, its citizens and its future. I will take a look at what those of us on the other side can do, shortly.

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