When Goode Legislation is Bad
Whenever someone speaks about modernizing and reforming part of our City Charter it always draws my interest because there is much of the Charter that needs tuning up. So, when I heard Councilman Goode had proposed modifying the structure of City Council it got my attention.
Unfortunately his attempt at reform is nothing more than a blatant attempt at a party-based power grab that does a disservice to his fellow Democratic council members.
Currently City Council is broken into two different types of legislators, which in of itself is very odd. There are 10 District Council members, representing geographic areas of the City and 7 At-Large Council members, representing the whole City. According to the Charter, two of the seven At-Large seats are reserved for the highest vote getting candidates out of a minority party.
Councilman Goode is planning to take advantage of the fact that the two Republican At-Large councilmen are scheduled to retire and wants to eliminate their two minority seats. What will result is an almost unanimous Democrat controlled council with even more power concentrated into the hands of a few people, the same few people that poorly monitored DHS, refuse to fix our property taxes and have a stranglehold on what does and doesn’t get built. Is that what we really want?
He didn’t even mention in the press release that it was to lower the cost of government. He is doing it to specifically target an opposing party. This is not the type of reform people envisioned when they elected Mayor Nutter last year.
Now, I agree with the premise that a political party shouldn’t be guaranteed any seats. If someone can’t appeal to the voters to win an office, they shouldn’t be guaranteed to it, but Councilman Goode’s solution is not the way to handle that issue.
If Goode and City Council were intent on modernizing the structure of City Council, they would eliminate all At-Large seats and turn them into district seats. A legislative house, City Council, should not have two different classes of legislators. This is a long running mistake in the Charter.
Of course, I am sure this would never happen because Council’s views on reform tend to stop short of anything that affects their jobs, salary or money-making side projects.
Now, if Goode and City Council were actually sincere about reform of City Council’s structure, they could take on a truly activist role.
A better structure for City Council would be:
1) Eliminate all At-Large seats
2) Divide Philadelphia into 50 district seats
3) Pay the council members part-time salary – no more than $20,000 a year.
There would be multiple benefits to this such as individual council members would be less powerful, salaries would be cheaper which would save tax payers money and districts would be smaller so it will be easier and cheaper to challenge incumbents as well as create closer ties to voters.
Councilman Goode’s attack on City Council and playing heavy partisan politics is just more of “Old Day, Old Way” and we need to make sure to tell him, and Council, that we want none of it.
Article appeared in The Loyal Opposition