While I have grown to love this City and most everything about it, I am admittedly not a Philadelphia native. One thing about the City (not its surrounding areas, although it is starting to develop there as well) that has always bothered me though is the one party system.
For as long as I can remember, every election in the City of Philadelphia was essentially decided in the spring Democrat primary. Whoever won that vote would defeat the Republican challenger – if there even was one – in the fall. Perhaps the only exception to the rule was Sam Katz’s run for mayor.
Two recent stories out of Philadelphia illustrate why this is such a problem. With no opposition party, who’s watching the store?
In the first, Dorothy June Brown, has been indicted by the United States Attorneys’ Office for defrauding 3 charter schools she was charged with running out of approximately $6.5 million. The prosecutors have brought 62 separate counts against her; and the U.S. Attorneys’ Office does not indict unless they have you dead to rights. They don’t like to lose.
Ms. Brown’s husband, a lawyer, resigns his position on a City board to devote all his time to clearing his wife’s name. The board on which he sat? You guessed it: the City Board of Ethics. So the man married to the person indicted on some pretty serious crimes that are at least in part likely true sits on the City Board of Ethics and shouts his wife’s innocence from the mountaintops.
In the second, the Delaware Valley High School is being probed by the FBI for its decision to hire Representative Chaka Fattah’s son as a consultant. I am going to guess that Mr. Fattah has no background in education. But magically, the School’s funding which was scheduled to be cut significantly is saved. The FBI, suspecting something untoward, has started an investigation and seized a number of documents.
In the end, the ideas of Republicans may never be accepted inside the City limits let alone place them in the position of being in charge. The non-existence of an opposition party is extremely dangerous to a properly operating government and a civil society though. Government’s with one party rule tend to accumulate power quickly, and then abuse it. With no one to keep them honest or even challenge them, they become free to do as they choose. This includes corruption.
The City of Philadelphia, including Democrats, need to embrace a revival of an opposition party. It is the only way to get the City back on track. Efforts are being made in the City to do this by some couragous people; and they deserve support.