Seventy Urges Voters To Abolish BRT

The Committee of Seventy put out a press relase today urging voters to vote to abolish the BRT during the primary election. Here's their recommendation and some information on the other ballot questions:


BRT Elimination Highlights Four Questions on May 18, 2010 Ballot

PHILADELPHIA – April 23, 2010 – The Committee of Seventy today urged Philadelphia’s voters to put an end to the embattled Board of Revision of Taxes. Abolishing the BRT is placed third among the list of four questions that will appear on the May 18, 2010 primary ballot.

Complete information about the ballot questions, which all eligible voters can vote on regardless of their party affiliation, is available at:

“Replacing the BRT with two new offices that are certain to be more accountable to city residents is one of the most important questions to come before the voters in recent history,” said Zachary Stalberg, President and CEO of the non‐partisan organization that champions effective government. “Rarely do voters have the direct opportunity to bring about reform and send the message that they are sick of government that fails them.”

The BRT, an independent agency whose seven members are appointed by the Board of Judges, usually with input from leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties, came under blistering attack after the Philadelphia Inquirer exposed decades of gross mismanagement and political dealmaking. Five BRT members have launched a legal battle in the state Supreme Court to remove the question that would eliminate their jobs from the May 18th ballot.

Pending the high Court’s ruling, Stalberg urged voters to learn as much as they can about the new offices that would be created by passage of the ballot question to assess city properties and hear assessment appeals. Seventy’s comprehensive, easy‐to‐understand explanation in a Q&A format – “IN THE KNOW:” BYE BYE BRT? – is available at

“This is the information you can’t possibly know just by reading the 65‐word ballot question,” he added.

Although Seventy does not endorse candidates for political office, Stalberg explained that the organization offers non‐partisan recommendations on certain ballot questions that fit within its mission to fight for clean and effective government, fair elections and informed citizens. In addition to the BRT question, the other ballot questions on the May 18th ballot include:

• A proposed Charter amendment to allow City Council to require companies that receive city business and city funds to submit economic opportunity plans that document their efforts to hire a diverse workforce and to do a certain amount of business with companies owned by minorities, women or disabled persons, or with other disadvantaged businesses. Approval of the ballot question would also allow Council (1) to temporarily prohibit the award of city contracts or financial assistance to those who fail to comply with these plans, and (2) to designate existing city agencies (including Council) or to create new agencies to enforce these provisions.

• A proposed Charter amendment to reduce the size of the Zoning Board of Adjustment from six members to five and to designate the city’s Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections as an alternate member to replace any absent or disqualified appointed member of that Board.

• A proposal to permit the city to borrow $65,525,000.00 for the following capital purposes: Transit, Streets and Sanitation, Municipal Buildings, Parks, Recreation and Museums, and Economic and Community Development.

“Ballot questions often get ignored because voters aren’t given enough information to cast a meaningful vote,” Stalberg observed. “Seventy is doing its best to fill that information gap.”