City Council members are out for the first week of their annual 12-week summer recess. The break is one of the longest of any City Council in the country, according to a 2011 review by Pew. Members of City Council object to characterizing the recess as a paid summer vacation. They have argued in the past that the recess is their time to listen to their constituents and craft legislation. Consider us skeptical.
The summer recess means that some basics functions of city government are frozen. For example, because every sale of public land requires Council’s approval, Philadelphia can’t sell public land over the summer. Our city has 40,000 vacant properties, but we freeze sales every year for three months so that Council will get its full uninterrupted vacation. In New York City, City Council meets every other week to vote on bills. In the summer, they meet once a month, but still vote on bills — and land use decisions can move forward.
The summertime freeze on legislative action is an issue that Council should pick up when they are back from recess. Waiting for vacation is not all Council did before summer. We looked back at the good, the bad, and the ugly of their past session.