Two measures to change city charter pass

Posted: May 19, 2009

Philadelphians yesterday approved two ballot questions changing the City Charter.

One change will posthumously promote to the next rank any Philadelphia police officers, firefighters, and paramedics who die in the line of duty. That will mean increased support for survivors, as death benefits are based on an officer's or employee's rank.

The measure passed overwhelmingly.

The second allows Council to change how it lets the public know about meetings, legislation, and contracts up for bid. Passed with strong support, it gives more latitude in deciding how notices are disseminated.

Now, for example, legal advertisements must run in the city's top three paid-circulation newspapers: The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Legal Intelligencer.

The bankruptcy filing of Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C., which publishes The Inquirer and the Daily News, prompted the push. Some in Council worried about what would happen if either or both papers ceased to exist.

Others questioned the need to run ads in print publications in an increasingly electronic age.

The city could save money as a result of the ruling, Council has said, as advertising in electronic media is less costly than newspaper advertising.

The city paid $1.2 million last year for legal advertising and would realize substantial savings by using electronic sources, according to Council.

As a result of the change, Council, by a two-thirds vote, can alter the rules at its discretion.

Attorneys for The Inquirer and the Daily News argued that changing the advertising requirement would financially hurt both newspapers and overlook city residents who lack Internet access.

Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com.

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