ON TUESDAY, Philadelphians will vote on eight ballot questions. Here are the questions and our views. (The questions start with No. 2 because the original first one of nine, on casinos, is now off the ballot):
Ballot Question No. 2: Should city elected officials be able to run for public office without first resigning from their city office?
No good reason exists for this change. While the current situation requiring someone to resign before running keeps us cleaner and more ethical than we have to be (cleaner than the state, for instance), we are more than OK with that.
Question 3: Should we create a youth commission with members from 12 to 23 years old to advise Council and mayor on issues affecting kids?
The advocates want $250,000 for staff and operations. We say: Use that money to hire several hundred young people for the summer instead.
No. 4: Provides for the six appointed members of the City Planning Commission to include an architect, an urban planner, a traffic engineer, a land-use attorney and two representatives of community groups that participate in land-use issues.
While it limits somewhat the flexibility of the commission, it adds an important layer of the right kind of expertise.
No. 5: Should the City Planning Commission get an extra 45 days to make recommendations to Council on pending legislation affecting zoning, the city's physical-development plan, land subdivision or the purchase or sale of real estate?
With zoning issues, it's best to err on the side of caution. And 45 days is not unreasonable.
No. 6: Provides for the creation, appointment, powers and duties of an independent Zoning Code Commission, which would recommend amendments to the Philadelphia Zoning Code to make the code consistent and easy to understand, and to enhance and improve Philadelphia's city planning process.
The zoning code is a mess. This city improvises zoning regulations as it goes along. This charter change would revise the zoning code and be a much-needed addition to orderly development.
No. 7: The citizens of Philadelphia urge the United States to make the year 2007 the time to redeploy U.S. troops out of harm's way in Iraq.
This question should not be appearing on the ballot. Not because we don't agree with its premise, but because this is the wrong forum for it to appear.
No. 8: Should the city borrow $129,695,000 for transit; streets and sanitation; municipal buildings; parks, recreation and museums, and economic and community development?
This money is a loan, and though it would go toward much-needed capital improvements, the last thing the city needs is more debt. This puts the onus of finding money on voters, rather than Council and the administration.
No. 9: Adds a provision stating that the citizens of Philadelphia urge the stopping of real-estate-tax-assessment increases resulting from the Board of Revision of Taxes' switch to "full valuation."
We wish Council wouldn't be so cowardly when it comes to the real-estate assessments. Full valuation has already been approved - it's time to settle down and do it. *