City Commissioners target of amended lawsuit

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File photo: Philadelphia City Commissioners (Left to Right) Lisa Deeley, Anthony Clark (chairman) and Al Schmidt hold a meeting Wednesday morning in Philadelphia.

Committee of Seventy and Philadelphia 3.0 have re-filed a lawsuit that demands the three city commissioner be replaced before the May 16 primary.

The initial lawsuit, filed with the state Supreme Court, targeted Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper. The plaintiffs argued that a state election law requires Woods-Skipper to replace the city commissioners when there is a ballot question asking for a Home Rule Charter amendment. A question regarding changes in the city's procurement practices will be on the May primary ballot. 

The state Supreme Court issued an order last week that dismissed the case. It did not have an opinion explaining the reason for dismissal. 

On Tuesday, the plaintiffs re-filed the lawsuit in Common Pleas Court and named the three commissioners as defendants, not Woods-Skipper. 

"If the lawsuit is successful, the City Commissioners will have to step aside not only for the May 16 primary but for any election in the future where a proposed amendment to the Home Rule Charter is on the ballot," said a press release announcing the new filing. "The enforcement of this law since 2002 would have rendered the City Commissioners unable to perform their formal duties as election overseers in nearly three quarters of elections."

The city commissioners have previously said that Committee of Seventy and Philadelphia 3.0 are wrong. They have said that the state law teh plaintiffs reference doesn't apply to Philadelphia because the city has its own city Home Rule Charter. 

The lawsuit is based on a section of the election code that says, "Whenever there appears on the ballot a question relating to the adoption of a Home Rule Charter for the county or amendments to an existing county Home Rule Charter, the president judge of the Court of Common Pleas shall appoint judges or electors of the county to serve in the stead of the county commissioners."

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