In 2018, auditing bodies released multiple reports detailing persistent issues that exist in our region. But reports usually end up on the shelf collecting dust. We rarely hear if there was any follow up on the recommendations. The goal is for our elected officials to use that knowledge to make good decisions — and more importantly, enacting good policies and laws. Below are four reports that came out in 2018 that we would like to see followed up on in the new year:
In July, Controller Rebecca Rhynhart released an audit of the way that the city handles claims of sexual harassment made by employees. The audit period was July 2012 and April 2018. The main finding of the report is that the city lacks consistent policy and procedure in investigating claims. Rhynhart recommends that the city should create an independent body to centralize the complaint and investigation process. While Mayor Jim Kenney instituted a new sexual harassment policy and responded to a few of the report’s other recommendations, he failed to create a centralized system, something that we’d like to see happen in 2019.
This summer, the Joint State Government Commission released a 280-page report on capital punishment in Philadelphia. The Commission found that the death penalty is costly, unevenly applied across race and county, and disproportionately impacts people with intellectual disability and mental illness. Beyond these findings, the commission gave specific recommendations on how to mitigate these inequities — and possibly unconstitutionalities — including enacting the possibility to challenge the death sentence on a statistical basis, disqualifying people with mental illness, and requiring judges to identify and exempt people with intellectual disability. In 2019, the state should begin enacting these recommendations.
In April, many homeowners saw their property tax bill increase from last year due to new assessments of property value. According to an analysis by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the assessments might have errors in them, making some people pay more than their fair share. City Council also commissioned an audit of the assessment process by an outside firm. The results were expected in September but we are still waiting. A fair and transparent assessment process should be implemented in 2019.