This is the first opinion of the Daily News People's Editorial Board, a group of 10 citizens who gather to debate hot topics in the city.
WE THE PEOPLE know that Philadelphia is a troubled city. We live in the neighborhoods and see it every day.
We want you, City Council, to help this city realize its potential. You have the power to make this city look good or bad to its own citizens and to the rest of the world. Here's what we think should be your top priorities:
REDISTRICTING: Yo, Council! If you mess around and do a bad job of redrawing the city map, we will know. A reasonable map is possible if you put aside selfish interests. The map you release better not look like the crazy current map.
We also want you to improve the way redistricting works. You should require future Councils to televise redistricting meetings. We would recommend creating an independent commission to redraw district boundaries, but we don't think you'd ever do it. We are starting small, Council.
DROP AND COUNCIL REFORM: First things first: If Councilwoman Marian Tasco accepts $478,057 from the DROP program, she should not pursue the Council presidency. It's an insult to taxpayers. In fact, Council, you should eliminate the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which is not revenue neutral.
Then, you should take steps to improve Philadelphia's democracy. You can start by holding more hearings around the city and in the evenings, so people who work, like us, can attend. You should also impose term limits on yourselves. Council is too often treated like a job for life.
ZONING REFORM: Pass it!
Zoning laws make it easier for all the people and businesses in a city to live together without making each other miserable. Unfortunately, Philadelphia's zoning rules are bizarre, and it can be difficult to get development done here without political connections. Over the past four years, a city commission has conducted a public zoning-reform process - in fact, two of us participated - and a more sensible code is available: (www.zoningmatters.org) Pass the code, bring the city up to date.
YOUTH VIOLENCE: This is a problem in Center City, as we know from the flash mobs, but don't forget the rest of city. We want you to pay attention to this problem by enhancing parental accountability. If someone's child is a repeat offender, he or she should pay a fine or do community service. You should also provide more funds for youth programs. Campaign for Nonviolent Schools can help you decide which ones.