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Next week’s ballot questions: A mixed bag | Endorsement

The editorial board’s recommendations for ballot questions up for vote on November 5.

Voters cast their ballots in Philadelphia’s municipal primary election on May 21, 2019.
Voters cast their ballots in Philadelphia’s municipal primary election on May 21, 2019.Read moreJonathan Lai

In a city with eight Democratic voters for every one Republican voter, some find little reason to go to the polls on general election day, as many races were all but formally decided in the primary. Three questions on the Nov. 5 ballot give voters a reason to show up: They will be able to influence city and state policy directly, regardless of their party affiliation.

Below are the Editorial Board’s recommendations for ballot questions.

Constitutional amendment: Marsy’s Law

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?

This proposed amendment to the state’s constitution, also known as “Marsy’s Law,” enshrines victims of crime with rights throughout the duration of the criminal case against their or their loved one’s assailant. While its intention is correct and victim’s rights — already enshrined in Pennsylvania law — should be respected, Marsy’s Law is the wrong solution. The law imposes a massive burden on the courts and has the potential to infringe on the rights of the accused. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which opposes that law, sued and asked the court to remove the question from the ballot. Any court decision is likely to be appealed. If the question remains on the ballot, we recommend that you vote NO.

Bond question

The city is asking to borrow $185 million to invest in transit, museum, parks, and recreational centers, municipal buildings, and economic development. This is a fairly routine request. A similar bond question in the 2018 general election passed with 72% of the vote. Vote: YES.

Charter change: Contract bidding

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to revise City procurement procedures by increasing the sealed bidding threshold; by providing for procurement from local businesses; and by providing for Procurement Department regulations?

Currently, a formal bid process is required for city contracts above $34,000. This measure raises the threshold to $75,000 and to $100,000 for local businesses — levels consistent with other major cities. The intent is to broaden opportunities for small businesses and those owned by minorities, women, and the disabled by reducing the burden of cumbersome proposals for relatively small contracts. We support this measure, with some reservations. Lower thresholds discourage the transparency that comes with formal processes. Also, the contract proposal process is only one factor that inhibits business participation — the city’s payment schedules is another. That this initiative, introduced by Councilman Derek Green, is also intended to favor local businesses, is the deciding factor in our support. Vote: YES.