Roadmap to Reform Series: Our ideas for innovation
"Roadmap to Reform" represents the Committee of Seventy's ideas on how to make Philadelphia a better place to live, work, and do business. We focus in-depth on particular problems or areas of government that need urgent attention. We take a look at how other cities, counties, and states handle similar issues and we recommend concrete, achievable solutions that Philadelphia - and sometimes Pennsylvania at large - can take to promote accountability, transparency, and effectiveness in government.
The Committee of Seventy’s newest report -- "Unfinished Business: How City Council Has Dealt With Ethics Issues and What Still Needs to be Done" – challenges the 2011 candidates for Philadelphia City Council to declare their positions on 24 specific ethics reforms. The report also has a scorecard on Council’s progress on ethics reforms over the last few years.Read to learn more about what the people who want to represent you in Council are doing and thinking about ethics reforms and check back with www.seventy.org for regular updates on the candidates’ responses to the 2011 Ethics Agenda.
Though budget discussions often seem to be about narrow spending and taxing decisions – especially in an election year - they can be about a larger issue: What should government be doing to build a better future. In anticipation of Mayor Nutter’s 2011 budget address to the city, the Committee of Seventy released “The Budget Address We Need to Hear.” It’s our vision of ideas - and a new attitude – to move Philadelphia forward.
In just a few short, dark years, Philadelphia's political culture suffered a series of ethical shocks: the former mayor left office under a cloud, a City Councilman went to jail and another Council member’s chief of staff was indicted. A judge promised favorable treatment in exchange for campaign contributions. In 2009, the new mayor convened a commission on ethics and campaign finance reform, and the Committee of Seventy issued a series of specific proposals to improve Philadelphia's laws and political culture.
The Committee of Seventy examines six archaic elective offices - some dating back to colonial times - that have long-since outlived their usefulness. In many cases, the offices had become hotbeds of patronage, nepotism, and inefficiency. We outline the history of the offices - the Sheriff
, the Clerk of Quarter Sessions
, the Register of Wills
, and the three City Commissioners
- and recommend ways their current duties could be eliminated or given to other offices to promote efficiency, ethics, professionalism, and cost-effectiveness.
The Committee of Seventy outlines a series of challenges that face the city and outlines steps to meet them. Recommendations range widely, from specific steps, such as eliminating the incompetent Board of Revision of Taxes (as step city voters eventually embraced) to broad principles, such as making smarter use of technology to improve government performance and boost public access to information.