City Council lets us down, and a week on Fresh Air

    I’ve defended Philadelphia City Council in the past, pointing out that their legislative procedures are more democratic and transparent than many more exalted bodies, including the state legislature and the U. S. Congress. I’ll stand by that.

    But Council lives down to its reputation in today’s piece by Catherine Lucey in the Daily News on how these 17 disntinguished solons account for $15 million in taxpayer dollars they spend every year.

    It’s hard to tell whether the amount Council spends is an outrage, though some items seem pretty questionable, like $108,000 for flags since 2007. And I have no doubt that taxpayers could get along fine without the $246,000 paid to politically-connected PR men Bill Miller and Marty O’Rourke.

    What’s really galling is that Council essentially hides the details of its spending, refusing to include the kind of detail all executive branch departments do in budget documents, posting none of its spending online, and spending not a minute of the weeks of budget hearings it holds every spring on its own operations.

    Folks, if you have nothing to hide, then don’t hide anything.

    Maybe the next City Council president will do things differently. Bug since the prez is elected by the 17 members, I won’t hold my breath.

    Posting will be lighter for a few days as I’ll be hosting Fresh Air all week while Terry Gross gets some well-deserved time off.

    Thursday we’ll get an inside look at the life of a major league catcher from Brad Ausmus, who just finished 17 years behind the plate. Wednesday we’ll take a hard look at the role of Wall Street rating agencies, and tomorrow two veteran New York Times reporters will take us inside the U.S. war against Islamic terror.

    Today, it’s two interesting women.

    Nancy Segal founded the Twins Study Study Center and has spent a career looking at what twins tell us about how much our personalities, intelligence and interests are genetically determined. She has a new book about a case involving two identical twins, one of whom was switched with another baby in the hospital and grew up in a family not her own. The mistake was discovered when all three were 28 years old, and it makes for a fascinating tale.

    And Marlene Zuk is a biologist who studies animal behavior and is a big fan of insects. She makes the case that our six-legged friends do more complex things than most of us know, and she has some pretty wild stories of parenting and mating on six legs.

    You can hear Fresh Air at 3 and 7 on 91FM in Philadelphia. If you’re listening outside the Philly area, find a station here.

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