City Commission Mulls Oversight

Posted: February 16, 2012

NOTE: This article has been corrected from an earlier version.

THE CITY Commission, which oversees elections in Philadelphia, is thinking about giving the Office of Inspector General authority to investigate its employees and contractors in a "memorandum of understanding."

The three-member board might also need a counselor to help two reform-minded new commissioners reach an understanding with the lone survivor from the old political machine.

City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who won a second term last year, clashed in a meeting yesterday with new Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer when he tried to make a motion on a subject not on the agenda.

"We can make our agenda up as we go," Clark said before Singer cut him off, telling him that agenda items must be submitted by Monday mornings before the commission's Wednesday meetings.

"It don't have to be on the agenda," Clark persisted.

"Yes it does," said Singer, who defeated former Chairwoman Marge Tartaglione's bid for a 10th term last year.

New Commissioner Al Schmidt said that sticking to the agenda allowed commissioners to be prepared for issues to be discussed.

Clark's motion, meant to assure a senior staff member that he is expected to replace a recently retired employee after his civil-service probationary period passes, may be heard at next Wednesday's meeting if Clark submits it for the agenda in time.

The commissioners also plan to discuss Schmidt's idea of giving the Office of Inspector General the authority to investigate employees and contractors.

"It's a unique situation, and not a good one, that we have no internal or external oversight to conduct investigations," said Schmidt, noting that the commission has no chief integrity officer or compliance officer.

Schmidt wants to tailor a draft agreement provided by the Office of Inspector General, which he called "very broad" in terms of jurisdiction. He said that the commission could write an agreement limiting areas of investigations and requiring that they be notified of ongoing investigations.

After the meeting, Clark continued to complain about being cut off by Singer. He noted that Tartaglione allowed commissioners to discuss any topic in meetings.

But Clark then conceded that Tartaglione did almost all the talking.

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