City Commissioner Lisa Deeley's push to have all three Philadelphia election commissioners keep daily work logs - and have their pay docked if they do not - was stalled Wednesday morning for lack of support from the two other commissioners, Al Schmidt and the board's chairman, Anthony Clark.
When Deeley offered motions to explore the work-log rule and four other arguably less controversial steps, she could not get either colleague to second her motions at the board's meeting.
Clark, whose pattern of not showing up at the office has drawn wide criticism, and Schmidt, who backed Clark's renomination as chairman earlier this month, both sat silent, looking down at paperwork in front of them.
"Of course I'm disappointed, but I'm encouraged at least by their acceptance to discuss it," Deeley said after the meeting.
Clark, who said at the meeting he would take the proposals by Deeley, a fellow Democrat, under advisement, would not comment later in the day. Schmidt later said he, too, would consider her proposals, but said his focus was on his own.
David Thornburgh, chief executive of the civic group Committee of Seventy, said Deeley's failure to win support for her resolutions pointed to a larger problem.
"We are seeing the consequence of the three-headed monster: None of these monsters seem to talk to one another," he said. "It just points to the inefficiencies of decision-making here." Thornburgh's group is calling for the elected commissioners to be replaced by appointees.
The first proposal Deeley introduced Wednesday was to "research" the requirements of the city's $12-an-hour minimum-wage standard and see if it applies to Board of Elections employees.
After a few seconds of awkward silence as Deeley waited vainly for a second to her motion, Clark, who was running the meeting, told her to proceed to the next.
Deeley went down her list of motions, each time pausing and waiting for a second, only to be told again by Clark to proceed.
Her proposals included:
Researching the feasibility of the board's hiring more support staff to assist in preparations for coming elections.
Looking into the possibility of offering a live-stream feed of the commissioners' public meetings.
Offering candidates and campaigns the option of filing campaign finance reports electronically, as many local, state, and federal election agencies do.
The last and most potentially controversial of Deeley's proposals was the dock-our-pay idea. She suggested the commissioners, all of whom receive six-figure salaries from the taxpayers, each maintain a daily log of time spent in the office, available for public review. "Failure to maintain a daily log could result in withholding of pay," Deeley said at the meeting. "Second?"
There was none. Schmidt immediately turned to his own proposals.
The board's sole Republican, he introduced proposals aimed at increasing voter turnout. He wants the city Finance Department to provide money for mailing each registered voter reminders of coming elections and polling-place locations; the Water Department to send similar reminders with bills; and the board to email reminders to voters who have opted to provide their email addresses.
He also introduced a proposal to craft a mission statement for the election office.
"Much like Commissioner Deeley's, I'm just bringing them up now, so I'm not expecting us to vote on them at this meeting," Schmidt said.
Deeley's proposals were among 18 ideas the new commissioner sent out Tuesday in a letter to Mayor Kenney, with copies to her fellow commissioners.
She introduced five of the 18 Wednesday, repeatedly moving to have the board "explore" the proposals. Schmidt later found fault with this.
"We don't need to vote on something to explore it," he said in an interview. "It's a little bit confusing. . . . Are they proposals to do something, or are they proposals to look at something? Because it doesn't require a vote for us to look at anything."
Deeley said she would do whatever was necessary to advance the proposals. She also reiterated what she had told The Inquirer on Tuesday: that the controversy over Clark's being reelected $138,612 chairman (with Schmidt's backing) despite his record of elections missed and his repeated absences from the office made it imperative that the board take steps to clean up its act.
"Hopefully we'll all work together," she said of the three-member board. "The mission is to restore the public trust."