Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Controller does what he said he would do; is it what you want him to do?

The Controller's Office released a report yesterday charging that local tow truck companies are "gouging" citizens, and that L&I and the Police Department, responsible for monitoring those companies, have fallen down on the job of protecting us. From the DN:

The Controller does what he said he would do; is it what you want him to do?

The Controller's Office released a report yesterday charging that local tow truck companies are "gouging" citizens, and that L&I and the Police Department, responsible for monitoring those companies, have fallen down on the job of protecting us. From the DN:

Butkovitz blamed L&I for "a large gap which you can drive a tow truck through" in its poor enforcement of city codes and in its lax communication with the Police Department regarding tow-truck companies.

Butkovitz is seeking higher fines against the towing companies, and better coordination between the two departments.

As we noted after Butkovitz's recent re-election as controller, Philadelphia voters made a very specific choice on election day: They voted for targeted performance audits of specific city agencies, and even specific agency functions. Butkovitz had argued, during the campaign, that such audits were more fruitful than the yearly fiscal audits being championed by his opponent (and required in the city charter). This was the central policy difference between the two candidates. And Butkovitz won.

Yesterday's audit strikes us as a perfect example of the sort of audit Butkovitz was talking about: It's very focused and assesses performance rather than budgeting. Of course this audit was in motion well before the election, but it might still be a good occasion to reflect: Is this sort of thing a valuable use of the Controller's time? Do you appreciate this service from your fiscal watchdog (if not from the police and L&I)?

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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