Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Corruptadelphia

In the ongoing probe into corruption in Philadelphia government, a number of individuals working in the administration of current Mayor John Street have been snared in the web, with some prison terms already begun.

Bugs were found in the Mayor's office, the investigation was revealed, and now the details play out in public. Developments keep coming, layers keep getting peeled back, and more and more names come to the surface.

With the imminent indictment of Philadelphia City Councilman Rick Mariano, the investigation takes another step up. Mariano created some "high drama", pardon the pun, when he climbed to the top of the City Hall tower last week in what was reported as a distressed state of anguish after his attorney resigned.

The incident saw scores of police and fire units respond, and resulted in Mariano's being talked down by Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson.

How high will it climb, and who ultimately may be caught in the web of deceit and corruption in the governing of the City of Brotherly Love? Mayor John Street himself? Perhaps even powerful local party bosses like State Senator Vince Fumo, or Congressman Bob Brady?

Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure. It is long past time for a change from Dem control of Philly without any real challenge. Stay tuned at this item for further updates as they occur, and feel free to add your own items and commentary.

1 comment:

Matt Veasey said...

Editorial from the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (philly.com):


Enough already! Yes on ethics reform


Nearly two dozen people have been convicted in the ongoing U.S. Attorney's probe into public corruption in Philadelphia.

A former city treasurer and a top aide to City Council are among those found guilty of crimes that trashed the public trust. Businesspeople were also convicted because they got sucked into the city's pay-to-play ways.

A city councilman is scheduled to be indicted any day now.

Had enough? Good! Now it's time to do something about it.

Such as: Vote on Nov. 8. If you live in Philadelphia, your Election Day ballot will include a question that seeks your OK to amend the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter. The change would enable City Council to enact stiffer rules to encourage ethical practices at City Hall.

Vote YESon this question. You'll help put a serious crimp in the pay-to-play culture, which has stained the city's reputation, chased away businesses, wasted tax money and damaged city services.

A win for the ballot question would authorize enforcement of one ethics reform already passed, which was sponsored by Councilman Michael Nutter, approved by City Council and signed by the mayor.

The law bars businesses, including officers, partners and related political action committees, from receiving no-bid city contracts valued at $25,000 or more - if they have donated more than $10,000 annually to city candidates or elected officials. Individuals would be barred from getting no-bid deals if they'd contributed more than $2,500 annually.

That reform is aimed directly at the pay-to-pay culture whereby businesses and individuals spread campaign cash around liberally, exploiting the city's Wild West campaign-finance atmosphere, then get the money refunded (and then some) by obtaining lush city contracts.

This ethics reform would also put in place extensive disclosure requirements for all players in the process. Sunlight is one way to disinfect a corrupt process.

The ballot question's wording is, truth be told, confusing and imperfect. It seems to include some room for mischief.

But the alternative to approving the charter change is far worse. Defenders of the city's corrupt status quo would take that result as public permission to keep on keeping on.

The Committee of Seventy, the civic watchdog that is spearheading a "Vote Yes" campaign with broad support among civic and business groups, stresses that point.

"Perception is just as important as reality," notes Committee of Seventy president Zack Stalberg. A strong YES vote will create strong momentum for further reform, and send a clear signal that Philadelphia is cleaning up its act.

A No vote would send a signal too depressing to contemplate.

Vote YES on Nov. 8, Philadelphia.