Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Our brightest and our best"

There is a very informative article in the Inquirer about the ethics bills before council, and how the big stumbling block is the no nepotism provision. According to the story, Nutter's bill states the following:

"no city officer or employee would be allowed to take or recommend any personnel action involving a relative; and the mayor, city controller, and City Council members cannot do so for relatives applying for city jobs as well as for positions in quasi-public agencies, such as the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority."

In other words, if I am a City councilman, and my brother is going to apply for a job with the Redevelopment Authority, I cannot make a phone call to make sure he gets the job. Gee, how terrible. We would not want the most qualified to end up with the job, would we? Personally, in terms of the whole ethics bill, I could care less if a councilperson hires a family member on their staff. It is their staff, to serve their needs, so let them hire whomever they want. However, for other city positions, there should certainly be a law banning them from ensuring the City government continues to be their own personal hiring service.

Two council quotes either show a total lack of honesty, or simply a sad lack of perspective:

Councilman Mariano: "Would we be losing our brightest and our best if their fathers weren't councilmen?"

Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown, on her sister: "She sweated blood, sweat and tears for five years to help me land the opportunity to get to Council - and she came with impeccable credentials. Why shouldn't she be given the same consideration?"

Again, I don't particularly care if they hire their families for their own staffs. I am more concerned with the placement of family members in other agencies across the City. But there is a clear provincialism in all of this. Every mom thinks their son is handsome, just like every Councilman thinks their relatives desrve jobs with the City. It keeps those who run Philadelphia to a small set of 'clans,' and puts up all sorts of blockades from the truly best qualified from getting a job. To them, it is as if offices and jobs in the City are simply a birth right.

If we think not of what is best for the Councilmen themselves, but purely in terms of the success of Philadelphia, do we want the best person to get the job, or do we want it simply to go to a family member of the well connected? If that person is the same, fine. But being opposed to letting others decide that, not the councilmen themselves, is just plain common sense.

Councilman Mariano says we may be losing "our brightest and our best" if we pass this law. I think the exact opposite is true.


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