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In my previous diary I covered the interesting races on my primary ballot and mostly ignored the ballot questions.  In this installment, I'll have a look at those.  

Over the flip for all four.

In the following, I'll just give my summary of what the questions say.

Question 1: Requires companies bidding for contracts with the city to submit a kind of diversity plan.

I think this is a clear "yes" vote.  Anything that opens up contracting to more diverse bidders and makes things less opaque would be good.  The only potential downsides might be a slight decrease in efficiency and people trying to game the system, which already happen.  So at least make the gaming quantifiable, and as a result, possible to avoid.

Question 2: Reduce the size of the zoning board.

This is the least obvious of the four.  On the one hand, lowering the number of these board jobs and increasing efficiency is good.  On the other, I don't have a good feel for who sits on these boards, and whether the function is to allow variances for higher density and livable communities or to just pursue anti-urban policies like parking and highways.

I'll probably vote "yes", though.

Question 3: Get rid of the BRT

An obvious "yes".  Background: the BRT is the Board for Revision of Taxes which sets property taxes.  The problem is that its real function is, essentially, formalized corruption.  This probably explains why some people pay zero and some quite a bit; the link is to an entire section on philly.com about how corrupt it is.  Here's an short passage:

Then-State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo wanted the property for a charter school. He leaned hard on Hunter to sell.

When the high-pressure tactics didn't work, an enraged Fumo decided to "really f- him over."

His weapon: the city Board of Revision of Taxes.

In an e-mail to an aide, Fumo issued orders demanding that Joseph A. Russo, then a BRT assessor, jack up Hunter's tax bill.

Russo, in turn, spoke with a colleague, suggesting that she look at whether the property's taxes should be raised, according to people familiar with the matter. The next year, Hunter's property assessment more than doubled.

In a brief interview, Russo, who now sits on the board of the BRT, said he could not remember the incident. He declined further comment.

Michael Nutter has already stripped as much authority from the BRT as he can, but we need to change the charter to stop paying these people.

Question 4: Capital projects bond bill.

Given the state of the infrastructure here, it's a yes.  Would it be better to get the money by stripping out all the looting and ending the massive gifts we give to suburbia and rural areas?  Yes.  Is that going to happen?  No.  So we need to raise the money from somewhere.

Originally posted to theran on Tue May 18, 2010 at 08:17 AM PDT.

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