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Philly ballot questions: Vote no on Housing Trust Fund contributions, yes to three other proposals | Endorsement

The Inquirer Editorial Board encourages voters to reject mandatory allocations to the fund. Measures on the city’s fleet of vehicles, new hiring rules, and recreational cannabis use deserve support.

A truck-mounted electronic billboard sign in Darby Township days before the Pennsylvania primary in May.
A truck-mounted electronic billboard sign in Darby Township days before the Pennsylvania primary in May.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Question 1

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to pass legislation that would decriminalize, regulate, and tax the use, and sale to adults aged 21 years or older, of cannabis for non-medical purposes?

Every few elections, Philadelphia City Council uses ballot questions to send a message to the General Assembly. It’s a way to inform politicians, especially those who might be pondering a statewide run, of Philadelphia’s priorities. This year, Council is asking voters to show the state legislature that the city supports the recreational use of cannabis. This board supports legalization and recommends that you vote YES on the ballot question. The General Assembly would be wise to start the legalization process to keep marijuana revenues from crossing the Delaware to the forthcoming New Jersey dispensaries.

» READ MORE: Who to vote for in the 2021 general election | Endorsement Guide

Question 2

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of a Department of Fleet Services, headed by a Commissioner, to manage all City-owned motor vehicles and City programs concerning alternative vehicle fuel initiatives?

When Ed Rendell became mayor in 1992, oversight of Philadelphia’s fleet had been so poorly handled that the new administration couldn’t figure out how many vehicles the city owned. Three decades after Rendell signed an executive order that created the Office of Fleet Management, voters have an opportunity to make the department permanent. Considering how many city services depend on a well-functioning fleet — from police to trash collection, the proposal to ensure a long-term, centralized Department of Fleet Services is sensible, and we recommend you vote YES.

Question 3

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to revise provisions related to the civil service system, to allow the Personnel Director to determine the number of people on an eligible list from which a hiring or promotion decision may be made, and to determine the number of times a person may be passed over and remain eligible on such a list, all based on the position and the needs of the civil service program?

Voters will have an opportunity to fundamentally change hiring and, potentially, increase the diversity of the municipal workforce. Under the city’s current hiring rules, applicants take a test and only the two highest-scoring candidates get an interview in a department. Eliminating those rules would allow the city to decide how many finalists departments could interview for each position and reduce the reliance on standardized tests — which have been found to be biased. We recommend that you vote YES.

Question 4

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for a mandatory annual appropriation for the Housing Trust Fund?

The fourth ballot question asks Philadelphia voters to require about $25 million earmarked for the general fund to go to the city’s Housing Trust Fund. While this board is supportive of the Housing Trust Fund, and the programs that are supported by it, it would be wrong to tie the hands of future Councils and future mayors by mandating contributions. Vote NO on Question 4.