Mayoral Q&A: Ethics
Philadelphia voters will go to the polls to select the major-party candidates for mayor May 19. With that in mind, the Inquirer Editorial Board posed seven questions on the issues that will face the city’s next mayor. Responses from candidates — except for Milton Street, whose campaign did not respond to invitations to participate — will be published daily through Friday, with the final one next Sunday.
Would you support a charter change to make permanent the Office of Inspector General, with powers over executive and legislative branches of city government? Why or why not?
Click on each candidate to see what they have to say.
Tap on each candidate to see what they have to say.
“Whether Philadelphia has an inspector general should not hinge upon whether the next mayor issues an executive order.
“I firmly believe that it is time for the Inspector General’s Office, first established under the Goode administration, to have permanent, independent status.
Whether Philadelphia has an inspector general should not hinge upon whether the next mayor issues an executive order. Once elected, I will reauthorize the current executive order for the inspector general and aggressively advocate for the office to be a fixture in our government.
Whether the Office of Inspector General should be part of the City Charter should be evaluated by a commission that would consider the charter as a whole, rather than what we have now: random piecemeal amendments proposed by City Council.”
“I want Philadelphia to be the nation’s leader in transparency and ethical government because it is a strategic asset that enhances public trust, citizen engagement, and economic growth.
“As mayor, I will reauthorize both the chief integrity officer and inspector general positions via executive order, and will forcefully advocate for a charter amendment to make the inspector general position permanent. This is necessary because transparency, ethics, and integrity are not just words, but values to be harnessed as strategic assets by the next mayor.
When I announced my candidacy for mayor, I talked about changing how Philadelphia does business. Residents, entrepreneurs, and investors should have confidence in the city’s ability to improve our quality of life, create jobs, and attract investment without concerns about ethical misconduct of its employees and elected officials. That’s why, among other policies, I’ll push to ban elected officials and city employees from outside employment with firms that have city contracts.
I want Philadelphia to be the nation’s leader in transparency and ethical government because it is a strategic asset that enhances public trust, citizen engagement, and economic growth.
Changing the way Philadelphia does business requires an independent leader and thinker, a mayor that cannot be bought or rented by anyone. That’s the leadership I’ll offer as mayor of Philadelphia.”
“I believe that accountability is important and an independent inspector general can assist in ensuring that there is accountability in city government affairs.
As mayor, I will advocate for an amendment to create an independent inspector general with jurisdiction over all of city government.”
“I'd pursue other avenues to strengthen our ethics laws because enforcement is only as effective as the laws on the books allow it to be.
“Philadelphia needs stronger ethics enforcement. The Office of Inspector General, along with the chief integrity officer, has made good progress in pushing our government to be more functional and ethical.
However, there’s still clearly more work to be done. We can’t be satisfied with our progress as long as some departments are still dysfunctional and as long as the taint of corruption is still attached to many government services. I applaud Mayor Nutter for his efforts in this area, and think we need to build on that legacy so that every Philadelphian has absolute confidence in city government.
I would go further than simply making the current office permanent. Philadelphia has a number of ethics enforcement bodies, many of which have similar missions and mandates. I would seek to combine all of their functions into a single, charter-defined “ethics czar” position with broader authority over all branches of city government. That would likely provide more effective and efficient oversight than we have today.
In my time in government, I have learned that empowering smart people and holding them accountable is the best way to get results, and I would take that approach to ethics enforcement.
I'd pursue other avenues to strengthen our ethics laws because enforcement is only as effective as the laws on the books allow it to be. Having public servants making tens of thousands of dollars a year in outside income from government contractors lessens public trust in government; I’d ban the practice, crack down on nepotism and patronage, expand disclosure requirements, and strengthen whistleblower protections for city employees.
In the post-Citizens United world, I’d also establish public campaign finance with matching funds for low-dollar donors to counteract the dark money that’s flooding this election and threatening the integrity of our democracy.”