NW Greens’ goals for new council candidates

A grassroots environmental group in the Northwest has a developed a list of priorities to present to Eighth District Council candidates vying for Donna Reed Miller’s seat once she leaves office.

The group is called the Northwest Greens, not to be confused with the Green Party.

The list lightly updates a set of desired actions the group submitted to Miller after her re-election in 2007.

A group member, Chris Robinson of Germantown said a number of the requests just deal with the basics of open government, but got little response from Miller.

“Like will you open an office in your district?” Robinson asked. “It’s not a tricky question, but she adamantly refused to do it.”

For years, Miller had a sign for a council office on the 5800 block of Germantown Ave. next to the office of State Representative John Myers (D., Phila.), but all that was there was a shoe store.

Robinson ticked off other action items on the list.

“Will you host and attend monthly town meetings in the district?” he asked. “If a candidate says, ‘I’ll do it quarterly,’ that’s great. Donna never did any.”

In Miller’s defense, she did participate in issue specific community meetings hosted by the whole of City Council in numerous city neighborhoods over the years. But what Robinson and the Northwest Greens are looking for is something specific to the Eighth District.

One issue long on the plate of some local environmentalists can also serve as a litmus test to see if candidates know about district concerns, Robinson suggested. That is cleaning up the sewage-filled Monoshone Creek.

“It’s really bad if the candidate has no idea what the issue is because we’ve been hammering away at that for 20 years,” Robinson said.

The Monoshone runs past Historic Rittenhouse Town and has been polluted for decades by Northwest homes with improperly installed sewer lines. Recent efforts by the city Water Department to track down which homes’ sewer lines run into storm drains that fill the Monoshone have produced some results Robinson said, but the problem continues. Most recent coliform readings for the Monoshone show very high levels of sewage contamination, according to a Water Department report.

Any new Eighth District councilperson should be ready to go on that old problem, according to Robinson.

Miller did a good job of one thing on that 2008 punch-list, Robinson said.

That’s item Number One; it reads, “Help to reduce rampant gun violence by using your position as chair of City Council’s Public Safety Committee to hold hearings and to prepare legislation for a city-wide ban on handguns.”

Since 2008 Miller has cosponsored or was the lead sponsor for nine bills that aimed to significantly tighten gun laws in the city.  The problem is that the state Supreme Court in a series of rulings severely constricted the city’s ability to enact any gun ordinances that are stricter than state laws.

Two more items on the list – providing military service opt-out forms for high-school students and single-stream recycling for the whole city – both got done without special effort by Miller.

 

Below is the Northwest Greens’ list with some notations as to progress:

Help to reduce rampant gun violence by using your position as chair of City Council’s Public Safety Committee to hold hearings and to prepare legislation for a city-wide ban on handguns, like the effective ban in Washington, DC. (9 council bills pending)
Require through appropriate legislation that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission provide “opt out” forms to every high school junior and senior so those students may withhold their contact information from military recruiters. (PSD does this on its Web site)
Assist in bringing single-stream recycling through RecycleBank, which is already operating in part of Chestnut Hill, to the entire 8th Council District. (City introduced this in summer 2010)
Require through appropriate legislation, that proposals and decisions of the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) and of the Zoning Board of Adjustment be available on the web on a timely basis.
Insist through appropriate legislation, that the Philadelphia Water Department clean up the Monoshone Creek, which currently transports toilet flushing into our drinking water.
Open an office in the 8th District with full time staff.
Host and attend monthly town meetings in the 8th Council District.
Publish in the local press a quarterly financial audit of your office and campaign finances.
Insist on a performance audit of the Central Germantown Council since it first came under the control of convicted felon Stephen Vaughn (formerly of Miller’s office – Vaughn is not associated now).

See the Water Department’s most recent report on the Monoshone Creek.

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