By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A sweeping to re-organize Philadelphia city government was approved today by a City Council committee, following a compromise between Council President Darrell Clarke and the Nutter Administration.
Council President Clarke wants a new form of government that would elevate the status of planning and development.
The compromise comes after months of negotiating between his staff and the mayor’s.
Clarke, spoke at a council committee hearing on the measure, said the haggling was well worth it.
“It gave us an opportunity to not only come up with what I believe is a pretty good conclusion, but it gave us the ability to understand that this is going to be a working document.” said Clarke. “If in fact we get it enacted, with the full participation of everyone in the city of Philadelphia. Because at the end of the day, we think that it impacts our lives.”
Under Clarke’s plan, a new cabinet-level Department of Planning and Development would be created. It would include three divisions: zoning and planning, development and housing.
A host of departments would be consolidated; They are now spread out among the Department of Public Property, the Department of Commerce, the Managing Director’s Office and the Mayor’s Office.
Also folded in would be the Planning Commission, the Historical Commission and the Art Commission.
Clarke says this is much more than simply changing around an organization chart.
“Restructuring government in the city of Philadelphia is a big thing.” said Clarke. “We think that the new mayor will in fact be in a position to utilize this particular tool to benefit all of the citizens of the city of Philadelphia.”
Council’s Law and Government Committee okayed the plan. If approved, as expected, by the full council and the mayor next month, the proposal would then be put to voters as a referendum in the November General Election.
That is because the restructuring would alter Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter, and charter changes must gain voter approval.
What remains to be seen, of course, is whether the next mayor would follow the plan, even if it is written in to the charter.
Past mayors have, at times, ignored the organization structure set out in the Charter in favor of their own preferences.