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Six ways Kenney says he'd clean up City Hall

Here are six good-government policies Kenney said he’d push for if elected.

Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney said if elected he'd keep and improve upon the good-government policies implemented by Mayor Nutter.

Kenney released the first in a series of policy papers, Monday, titled "An ethical, accessible and transparent government for the 21st Century."

He briefed the media on some of the platforms along with members of his policy committee, including former city Human Services Commissioner, Alba Martinez and former Committee of Seventy Policy Director, Ellen Mattleman Kaplan.

Here are six of the policies Kenney said he'd push for if elected. He estimated in total the reforms listed in his11-page report could net $159 million in revenue for the city.

"I don't want anyone to have any fear going forward in 2016 than anything is going to go backward," Kenney said. "If nothing we're going forward to expand and close some of these loopholes...that come about."

1. Amp up funding for the Board of Ethics. At $1 million a year, Kenney says the office does not have the support necessary to enforce the city's code and regulations.

"What we wind up seeing when it comes to campaign finance violations is somewhat of a slap on the wrist and a fine that's minor," Kenney said, noting in some cases the beneficiary keeps the money.

Though he did not name him specifically, Kenney's opponent in the race Anthony Hardy Williams, received a donation from the Carpenters Union that broke campaign finance law. The union donated $21,500 ($10,000 over the limit) to Hardy. They were fined $1,000 but it's unclear if Williams' campaign will have to return the extra money.

2. Make permanent the office of the Inspector General and Chief Integrity Officer. Kenney tried introducing legislation to do this in council but the bill went nowhere. He acknowledged council's ambivalence toward it and said he'd issue executive orders to keep both offices going with a long-term goal of getting the charter changed with council support. Kenney noted the Inspector General has saved the city $45 million since 2008 and forced the termination of 200 employees, 65 of whom were arrested or indicted.

3. Zero-based budgeting. "There is no reason why every department head, every year comes in with a budget request two or three percent higher than last year without explaining why the need," Kenney said. "If we build our budgets from zero up we will find savings." He noted that Montgomery County implemented zero-based budgeting and saved 9% of its total budget over three years.

4. Open competitive bidding for city contracts. Kenney said he wants to change the procurement process from a closed-bidding system to an online auction where interested contractors compete with each other. "We'd wind up getting the best price and the best company for the least cost to taxpayers," Kenney said.

5. A better open records policy. This was a favorite of the reporters in the room. Kenney said he wants training for City employees on open records law and less wait-time for people looking for information on how tax dollars are spent. He also said he'd invest in technology to put more data online.

6. Disclose independent campaign spenders. Kenney said he'd work with City Council to create legislation requiring groups that make independent expenditures in city elections to disclose their sources of funding. He and former City Councilman Bill Green attempted a similar bill in 2013 that did not go anywhere.

Former District Attorney and mayoral candidate, Lynne Abraham has condemned "dark money" in this election and called on fellow candidates to reject support from groups who don't make their donor identities public and donate the sum value of any ads received to the school district.

Kenney, who benefited from a television ad which aired earlier this month funded by an independent expenditure committee, "Building a Better Pennsylvania," refused to sign the pledge along with the other four mayoral candidates.

"You can't stop someone from putting a campaign commercial on television," Kenney said. "Having totally anonymous outside independent expenditure dollars in committees is something I can't control but we should be able to make transparent who they are."

Kenney touches on a number of other items in the policy paper, found here. He also said he would ban nepotism and require employees to disclose ties to non-profit organizations and outside employment.

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