DN Editorial: 5 picks for 2 GOP at-large seats
And our recommendations for the four ballot-question votes
REPUBLICAN at-large Council members could be pitied for holding some of the loneliest jobs in City Hall. That said, the two slots for Republicans on Council can be important, not just to carve out issues that might otherwise be ignored, but as loyal opposition to follow-the-leader members of the majority party.
The current incumbents, David Oh and Dennis O'Brien, alas haven't provided that role when it was most needed: calling for public hearings on the proposed PGW sale to UIL. They fell in with their colleagues in letting the deal die without explanation or full airing of the issues. For that reason, we recommend the five picks for the two at-large seats go to the challengers, all of whom represent fine choices. They include Matt Wolfe, an attorney who ran for a Council seat last year; former mayoral contender and Northeast Chamber of Commerce head Al Taubenberger; Terry Tracy, a retail executive who has run for city controller; James Williams, track coach at Cheyney University; Dan Tinney, 66th Ward treasurer, who has worked in finance.
Tuesday, voters also will face four ballot questions.
* Shall the charter be amended to call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to abolish the School Reform Commission and return local control of Philadelphia's schools?
While there may be compelling reasons to argue for local control, the reality is more complicated. The city can't dissolve the SRC, and those who think a local board can improve state funding for the schools are mistaken. The SRC formalizes the state's relationship with our schools. Granted, that doesn't translate into fair funding, but we fear that a change would give them an excuse to care even less. VOTE : NO
* Shall the charter be amended to provide for the creation of a Commission for Women to be charged with promoting civic, educational and economic policies for women ?
This would establish a 27-member commission to promote "equal opportunities for women in areas such as employment, compensation and education."
No, this ballot question didn't wander in from 1976 . . . though it might as well have. It's embarrassing that in 2015 we have to form a commission to address the fact that female representation and compensation is still an issue. Yet, a resounding "no" vote would be even more embarrassing. VOTE: YES.
* Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require all City agencies to prepare, and comply with, plans to promote access to City services . . . for people with limited English proficiency?
This could and should be done without requiring a change to the city charter. VOTE: NO.
* Shall the charter be amended to provide for the creation, appointment, powers and duties of an independent Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten . . . without taking away funds used for existing education?
This would establish a 17-member new Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten, responsible for developing a plan to provide high-quality pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year olds in the City. Given the importance of pre-K as a cornerstone to later educational success, especially among low-income children, we support it. VOTE: YES.