What’s the point in having an ethics requirement if there is no money to support oversight and enforcement?
On July 1, the city of Philadelphia will require lobbyists to register and provide details on their clients and expenditures. The effort is part of the reform promised by Mayor Michael Nutter and the city council to bring greater transparency to city government. But that transparency has a price tag: $130,00 more than has been budgeted. The funds would be used to pay for additional staff to handle the anticipated flood of paperwork.
The proposed increase comes at a time when other city departments are suffering budget cuts. Taking that into account, there is still a strong case for supporting this request. A recent piece in The Inquirer said, “While there are departments across city government that could do more with less, according to Nutter's directive this year, the Ethics Board already runs a lean operation. What's more, its beefed-up role in tracking lobbyists and the influence they might wield on city policy is critical to advancing the mayor's reform-minded agenda.”
This is a case of “putting your money where your mouth is.” Just talking about ethics reform is not enough. There must be sufficient resources to do the job, and do it well.