By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia City Council won’t be meeting today: it has long been Council’s practice not to meet after a Monday holiday.
But new City Council president Darrell Clarke plans some arm-twisting to end that tradition, and to end Council’s three-month summer recess.
The perception that councilmembers don’t work much — disputed by the lawmakers — is rooted in the Council calendar. No meetings or hearings are held in the summer, and often no Thursday meetings after a Monday holiday, or near an election.
Clarke, who became Council president in January, says lawmakers need to get ready for change.
“We’re going to make some revisions in terms of adding sessions, or changing some of the schedules,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
In fact, Clarke says, he thought the lawmakers were going to meet today:
“I was under the impression that we had a Council session.”
But instead, the calendar mirrored Council’s meeting practices of years past, when Monday holidays led to no formal meeting the following Thursday.
Among the changes Clarke has in mind: some summer meetings or hearings.
“There will be some formal summer activity, and I don’t want to get into the specifics of it at this point.”
He says he also wants meetings held out of City Hall, in the neighborhoods — something rarely done in the past.
“It’s important for people to see their government in action.”
But Clarke says he can’t announce details until he has support from a majority of councilmembers. It’s unclear if he’ll get that.
“What those sessions are, or what those particular public formats will be, are under discussion currently.”
Councilman Wilson Goode, head of the Appropriations Committee, says summer meetings of that committee would be vital.
“That role really takes place after July 1 (after a new budget is adopted),” Goode tells KYW Newsradio, “so I think that it’s important that I be here, that other councilmembers be here (in the summer).”
But councilman-at-large Bill Greenlee is among those uncertain about the need for more meetings.
“I’ve always maintained that we didn’t lose anything by not having meetings during the summer,” he said. “But we’ll see, we’ll see what the plan is.”
Goode thinks a majority of his colleagues will, in the end, go along with the changes.
“A majority of Council (first) came here within the last four years. So I don’t believe those members are that used to having three months off,” Goode says.