Philly councilman attempts charter change to make a point

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A Philadelphia councilman says he wants to change the City Charter to prevent the Nutter Administration from using a short-term contract to avoid having to ask council for its permission.

The Nutter Administration is hiring a private law firm to handle cases that the Public Defender can’t for ethical reasons. It’s a one-year contract and Councilman Dennis O’Brien says it’s structured that way because council would have to approve a multi-year deal.

O’Brien says this means the plan moves forward despite serious questions raised at a council hearing.

“At the hearing, not one of the 10 local state and national expert witnesses endorsed the administration’s for-profit model,” he said. “Additionally the well-regarded experts illuminated countless fundamental flaws that compromised justice, leave the city rife for litigation and more unforeseen expenses.”

O’Brien says he doesn’t think his proposal will be popular on council or with the mayor.

“Metaphorically speaking there are hills you die on, this is what I tell my staff when we are confronted with issues that present a conflict to our values, personal constitutions and what is ultimately just and fair with my staff in tow I am now charging up one of those hills, this is a hill you die on.”

The Nutter Administration has a policy of not commenting on pending legislation.

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