A simple request this week from City Council President Anna C. Verna threatens to upset the delicate balance of a city panel that is just getting its legs - or so fear some of the panel members.
The panel is the Criminal Justice Advisory Board, a group formed nearly 10 months ago to try to resolve long-simmering issues with no easy solutions, from court backlogs to prison overcrowding. Its powerful members, who meet monthly in a small room in City Hall, include Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, DA Lynne Abraham, Court of Common Pleas Administrative Judge D. Webster Keogh, Public Defender Ellen Greenlee, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Municipal Court President Judge Marsha Neifield... Got the picture?
The issue? Council appeared to have caught up with the board's... well, existence, during budget hearings a few weeks ago. (Unhappy with Mayor Nutter's proposed budget for many of the criminal justice agencies, the board voted on its own proposal and discussed it with Council.)
Now Council wants a seat at the table, a message Verna made clear in a hand-delivered letter Wednesday to Dembe and Gillison asking for the board to amend its bylaws to let Council in.