The Committee of Seventy is asking you and the other declared candidates for Philadelphia’s Mayor to commit to the following Integrity Agenda – which is directed towards continuing to improve the political culture in Philadelphia.
Many other critical issues beyond those involving honest government will dominate this campaign before it is over. But belief in your proposed solutions to improving public education, reducing poverty, fixing the city’s pension liability or anything else will inevitably depend on whether the voters decide that you will command a government that is trustworthy.
We urge you to embrace the recommendations you favor, explain your reasoning behind any you oppose, and offer additional ideas we have not considered.
In 2007 and 2011, Seventy distributed an “Ethics Agenda” to the mayoral candidates. We are pleased that a number of reforms recommended in our agendas have been achieved, including:
Appointing a Task Force on Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform in 2008.
Enacting the city’s first-ever lobbying registration and disclosure ordinance.
Strengthening the city’s campaign finance ordinance.
Publishing the annual city financial disclosure statements online.
Making public the list of recipients of complimentary tickets to the Mayor’s box.
At the same time, there is still “unfinished business,” most notably:
Creating a permanent, independent Office of the Inspector General in the City Charter.
Passing a comprehensive whistleblower law.
Requiring disclosure of donors to non-profits, corporations, unions or other funding sources that make independent expenditures in city elections.
The next Mayor has an opportunity to strengthen Philadelphia’s legal and policy framework to reach the highest level of ethical standards.
We ask that you state your position on 13 specific reform measures that are designed to make city government more accountable, transparent, and effective.
Again, we invite you to share your own ideas for improving ethics and integrity in Philadelphia government. Your responses, and those of your opponents, will be published on the Committee of Seventy’s website (www.seventy.org).
Click here to view the mayoral candidates' bios and their responses to Seventy's 2015 Integrity Agenda.
Please state your agreement, or explain your disagreement, with the following reforms:
I. Ethics and Transparency
Creating a Permanent Ethics Infrastructure within City Government. By Executive Order, Mayor Michael Nutter appointed (1) the city’s first Chief Integrity Officer to investigate complaints of unethical conduct and coordinate the dissemination of information about ethics and integrity issues to city employees, members of boards and commissions and vendors, and (2) an Inspector General to investigate corruption, fraud, waste and dishonest practices. The two positions have jurisdiction over executive and administrative branch employees.
1. I will reauthorize the current Executive Order establishing a Chief Integrity Officer with jurisdiction over executive and administrative branch employees.
2. I will advocate for an amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to create a permanent, independent Inspector General with jurisdiction over the entire city government. In the absence of a Charter-sanctioned, permanent Inspector General, I will reauthorize the current Executive Order establishing an Inspector General with jurisdiction over all executive and administrative branch employees.
Regulating Ties between Elected Officials and Non-Profits. Recent news accounts have raised troubling questions about ties between elected officials and non-profits, including reports of officials steering public dollars to pet non-profits, hiring or promoting the hiring of relatives or close associates to pet non-profits or making personal use of dollars intended for non-profits with which they are affiliated. There are no existing city rules that require disclosure of these relationships.
3. I will advocate for legislation that requires all employees who are obligated to file the city’s annual Statement of Financial Interests to report to the Philadelphia Board of Ethics any ties that they or members of their immediate family have to non-profits. In the absence of legislation, I will issue an Executive Order requiring the same disclosure by all employees who are obligated to file the mayor’s financial disclosure form. The information should be publicly available online.
4. I will personally disclose to the Philadelphia Board of Ethics any ties that I or members of my immediate family have to non-profits. This information will be publicly available online.
Disclosing Second Jobs. Many city employees hold second jobs. However, since information on outside employment is not available online, it is hard for the public to determine any potential conflicts with the employee’s city job performance or other city interests.
5. I will advocate for legislation recommended by the Task Force on Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform to require all elected and appointed city employees to register their outside jobs, and a detailed job description, with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics on an annual basis and to update that information during the year, as needed. In the absence of legislation, I will issue an Executive Order requiring the same disclosure by all executive and administrative branch employees. The information should be publicly available online.
Banning Nepotism. Public officials sometimes hire or appoint members of their immediate family to work directly for them or recommend members of their immediate family for other paid or appointed positions in city government. While a mayoral Executive Order bans nepotism within the executive branch and administrative branches of government, the order does not apply to all city employees and can be revoked by future mayors. There is no citywide rule banning nepotism.
6. I will advocate for legislation that forbids any city official or employee from having a role in hiring or promoting or participating in other personnel decisions involving a member of their immediate family (spouse, life partner, parent, sibling, or child) either by the city official or employee or by others in city government. In the absence of legislation, I will issue an Executive Order banning nepotism within the executive and administrative branches of government.
Barring Political Activity by Non-Elected City Employees. Past efforts in City Council to loosen the restrictions on the political activity of most city employees have not been successful. As has been learned from recent scandals, even with the ban, partisan political activity during the work day can be difficult to stop.
7. I will oppose any effort to amend the City Charter to allow non-elected city employees to serve as ward leaders, committeepeople or from taking any part in the management or affairs of a political party or in a political campaign.
Protecting Whistleblowers. Philadelphia has several laws that protect city employees from retaliation for making credible reports of abuses and waste in government – but they only apply in certain circumstances.
8. I will support passage of a comprehensive whistleblower law that provides sufficient protections for city employees who make good faith complaints about perceived wrongdoing in government.
Shedding More Light on City Contracts. As part of its commitment to greater transparency regarding city contracts, Philadelphia posts online data about professional services contracts. Data on contracts for supplies and equipment, non-professional services and construction is not posted.
9. I will make available online data on contracts for supplies and equipment, non-professional services and construction within six months after taking office.
II. Campaign Finance
Preserving Philadelphia’s Campaign Contribution Limits. Rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court have opened the floodgates for unlimited dollars not connected to local campaigns to flow to Philadelphia. Some have suggested that the only way to combat this is to eliminate the caps on contributions to candidates for local elective office.
10. I will oppose any effort – in the courts or in City Council – that seeks to dismantle or weaken the city’s campaign finance ordinance, including changing existing contribution limits.
Demanding Disclosure of Independent Money in City Campaigns. Voters often have very little, if any, information about the donors behind unlimited spending not connected to political campaigns. This is a growing issue not just in federal elections, but in state and local elections as well.
11. I will advocate for legislation to require individuals, non-profits, corporations, unions or any other sources of independent expenditures to influence a city election to disclose their donors to the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, in addition to what is already required. This information should be publicly available online.
Simplifying Philadelphia’s Campaign Finance Database. Although the city maintains an online database of political contributions, it is difficult to search and to understand. It is virtually impossible to determine whether contributors to city officials are recipients of non-competitively bid city contracts or receive other government perks, including coveted appointments to city boards and commissions.
12. I will improve the city’s electronic campaign finance report database so that it can be easily searched and understood by the public and its data can be exportable into a spreadsheet or other analytic software formats.
III. Administering and Enforcing City Ethics and Campaign Finance Rules
Strengthening the Philadelphia Board of Ethics. Philadelphia’s Board of Ethics administers and enforces the city’s campaign finance, financial disclosure, conflicts of interest and lobbying laws. The Board has a $1 million annual budget and 10 current staff members – far less than it needs to handle its broad responsibilities.
13. I will support additional financial resources and personnel to enable the Ethics Board to operate as effectively as the citizens of Philadelphia deserve.
If you would like to supplement your responses to the questions above with any additional ideas or statements, please feel free to provide further comments below.
Click here to view the mayoral candidates' bios and their responses to Seventy's 2015 Integrity Agenda.