The choice in this race couldn’t be more obvious.
On one side, you’ve got Brett Mandel, an advocate with sterling good government credentials. On the other side you’ve got Alan Butkovitz, an old school machine hack who’s admitted publicly he’s only using the Controller’s office as a launching pad for a doomed Mayor run in 2015.
Before you tune out of the boring Controller issues, let me make the case for Brett in one sentence: he’ll flag the wasteful spending, so you can pay lower taxes.
I know these aren’t anybody’s favorite issues, so I’ll keep it short with two examples of why you need to support Brett Mandel.
Exhibit A: City Council’s Secret Budget
As Holly Otterbein pointed out yesterday, Philly City Council will soon begin scrutinizing every department’s budget except its own. They have their own secret slush fund that’s not up for public debate in the normal budget process. That’s unacceptable, and it’s about time the independent elected Controller audited them. Brett Mandel has promised to put every City payment online in a searchable database, so you’ll be able to see where that money’s really going.
Exhibit B: The Philadelphia Gay News Scandal
This story resists summary, but basically “Philadelphia Gay News” is not a legit publication, and is collecting a bunch of ad revenue from the Sheriff’s office. It’s precisely the same scam REACH Communications got busted for by Alan Butkovitz, but Butkovitz is looking the other way this time because PGN publisher Mark Segal is a Butkovitz political ally.
Josh Kruger has been killing it on this story on his blog, and made this chart so you can follow along:
Even if you can’t get worked up about this particular story, it doesn’t take much imagination to infer that dozens of scandal minis like this are likely playing out across City government every day of the week.
Usually voters “Philly Shrug” away this kind of funny business, but this year should be different. With many property owners facing huge tax increases following reassessment, and the city bleeding tax revenue from the delinquency epidemic, there’s a renewed pressure on City Council to spend taxpayers’ money efficiently.
But Council electoral politics is not enough to ensure that’s going to happen. You need an independent City Controller who’s going to scrutinize all of the city’s spending, show you where the waste is, and pick the political fights that will slash the cost of corruption, improve service delivery, and lower your tax bills.