November 19, 2021
The Doc/Henon conviction: A opening to move on from “corrupt and contented”

The conviction of Councilmember Bobby Henon and (now former) IBEW Local 98 business manager John Dougherty offers an important opportunity to reform the costly pay-to-play culture and transactional politics that have harmed the quality of life for too many Philadelphians for far too long. But it’ll take teamwork. As Common Cause PA executive director Khalif Ali, State Rep. Jared Solomon, and C70 CEO David Thornburgh wrote in an Inquirer op-ed: “All of us — public officials, civic and community leaders, unions, and businesses — must be committed to making real change by enforcing the current rules, passing new reforms, and protecting norms for appropriate behavior.” 
  • Our three-point plan for reform: 1. Strengthen disclosure requirements and add restrictions for outside jobs held by members of Council. 2. Expand the scope of the Office of the Inspector General to include Council and the row offices by enshrining it in the Home Rule Charter. (It currently exists as a result of mayoral orders and its jurisdiction is limited to positions under the mayor’s control.) And 3. consider public financing for municipal elections. Read our full statement.
Dueling election-law proposals as chance for reform appears to close

On Wednesday, the PA House passed an amendment to the GOP’s omnibus election bill that would financially penalize counties that failed to report their final tallies of mail-in ballots by 9 pm on election night. The amendment passed along party lines. Then an amendment by Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Phila.) to add drop boxes, allow for more early voting and same-day registration failed to pass muster with the Republican majority. When the House reconvenes next month, McClinton is set to introduce a competing measure that includes most of these items, as well as many others, including 21 days of pre-canvassing.
  • Harm done without reform: With high-turnout midterm elections fast approaching, beleaguered county election officials expect to continue with the challenges of the status quo law. Voters will be harmed as well, with thousands of ballots without secrecy envelopes, dates or signatures to be rejected without any opportunity to fix such mistakes.
  • Undated ballots go to court: House Republicans are threatening to impeach Lehigh County officials for counting undated mail-in ballots—something Philly officials determined they cannot do. Meanwhile, the Montgomery and Bucks County Boards of Elections are suing the PA Department of State to clarify the rules.
City Hall Roll Call is a summary of City Council’s weekly Stated Meeting by Lauren Vidas, an election lawyer and government relations specialist. Good government requires transparency, which is why C70 proudly sponsors this important work! 
On our radar
This is how to draw the lines: C70 CEO David Thornburgh promotes the Draw the Lines citizen-mapping project at a recent hearing of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (the panel that draws state-legislative lines).
Wins for ranked-choice voting: Voters in MI, CO and ME municipalities recently approved RCV for their local elections.
Political “typography”: The Pew Research Center finds that “partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics. Republicans and Democrats agree on very little – and when they do, it often is in the shared belief that they have little in common.”
Ups and downs for Vote by Mail: Voters in New York State nixed proposals to expand mail-in voting (as well as same-day registration), but the District of Columbia moved to make its expanded VBM program (established temporarily last year) permanent.
Will PA lawmakers finally pass a gift ban? It can (and should) happen, Mechanicsburg, PA journalist Mark O’Keefe writes in a PA Capital Star op-ed. But Spotlight PA warns that Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman could stand in the way.
"Auditor" picked: PennLive reports that the GOP leaders of the PA Senate committee that plans to reexamine the 2020 and '21 elections have picked an Iowa consulting firm to do it.
Choose your news wisely—It’s the law: A new Illinois law mandates a media-literacy component in its high-school computer-literacy courses. (We have resources to help here.)
Now we know: Lancaster Online reports that Gov. Wolf honored a right-to-know request two years after it was made by releasing the names of 17 applicants for a vacant Commonwealth Court seat.
Get Involved
Community Input Meetings on City Council District Boundaries

Virtual Community Input Meetings are being scheduled through November and December to provide space for discussion and feedback on the current City Council district boundaries and what changes, if any, residents and stakeholders in given area may want to see. The updated meeting schedule and a public survey open to any city resident are here: seventy.org/drawphilly
Sign the Citizens’ Pledge to Fight Big Money in Elections

American Promise members in PA are launching a bipartisan campaign to make us the 23rd state to call for a constitutional amendment to stop big-money corruption. It would “reaffirm the power of citizens through their government to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections.” Learn more and sign the pledge.
For the first time in our 117-year history, Seventy has created a membership program to broaden, diversify and expand our community of local democracy-builders. Your membership also provides unique opportunities to meet civic leaders and policy experts, gain inside knowledge of the reform process, and connect with people who are passionate about our city and commonwealth.
Become a member today!