Voters Abolish Traffic Court, Approve Commission on African-American Males

A third ballot question was rejected, but the votes won't count.

Pennsylvania constitutional amendment to abolish Philadelphia traffic court

Photo | Dan McQuade

Did Pennsylvanians finally put Traffic Court in the grave, once and for all?

Le duh, as the French say. Though perhaps not by as wide a margin as we might have assumed, considering that Traffic Court is already dead except on paper. On Tuesday, voters approved a ballot question amending the state constitution to abolish the perennially corrupt Traffic Court by a 60-40 majority. Philadelphians approved the question by a slightly wider margin, 65-35.

As Dan McQuade recalled yesterday, Traffic Court was moved under the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Municipal Court in 2013, after an investigation into ticket-fixing ended with indictments of nine of the court’s judges. By approving the state constitutional amendment, voters erased the last trace of the court. (Who wants to bet a traffic ticket might still get fixed here and there?) 

Two-thirds of city voters also approved an amendment to the Home Rule Charter that would permanently establish an independent Commission on African-American Males. The Commission was started by former mayor Wilson Goode in the early 1990s, and Goode still serves as a co-chair. The Commission was later allowed to lapse, and re-established by Michael Nutter in 2011, according to Committee of Seventy

Adding the Commission to the Home Rule Charter gives it a level of permanence it hasn’t had till now. This has been a trend lately. In 2014, voters elected to make permanent the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, which was created by Nutter. Last May, voters also approved the addition of a Commission for Women and a Pre-K Commission to the Home Rule Charter. In November, they approved a ballot question creating a permanent Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs.

Ballot questions almost always pass, but a third question on Tuesday’s ballot, raising the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75, was actually rejected statewide by a 51-49 margin. Except nevermind, because the Commonwealth Court decided just a few days before the election, after the ballots were printed, to postpone the question until November. So those votes don’t count.

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