Dear Members of the Law & Government Committee:
Although I am unable to participate in today's committee hearing, please consider the following in your deliberations.
Bill No. 220736: This legislation would retain the prohibition on Citizens Police Oversight Commission members from making political donations to city candidates and incumbents but allow donations to non-city candidates (ie, state-level candidates or local candidates outside Philadelphia). This is a reasonable change, and presents no integrity risk for the commission given its purview.
Resolution No. 230016: This legislation would exempt all staff of the Citizens Policy Oversight Commission from the city's civil service system, creating the second agency-specific carveout from Article VII, Chapter 3 in less than a year.
We have no doubt the Commission has endured frustrations in hiring, but this is a pervasive problem across government in desperate need of a systemic solution. Recruitment resources, hiring timelines and salary caps are among many factors hampering the city's workforce and its ability to execute critical functions and services, including police oversight. This committee's work to eliminate the Rule of Two is the most recent example of structural reform to the city's civil service that will aid scores of agencies in fulfilling their missions.
By creating a special carveout for one, important though the agency is, we risk opening the door to a cascade of further exemptions, especially while the city struggles to compete in this labor market. Meanwhile, underlying issues in recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion continue to plague city government and its ability to deliver for residents.
We greatly appreciate Councilman Jones' leadership in the creation of the Citizens Police Oversight Commission as well as his sustained efforts to further improve upon the commission. But we would encourage the committee to hold this legislation while reconsidering other avenues to address the systemic workforce challenges we face.