Philly, These Three Questions Could Be on Your May Ballot

Study up.

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

The Philadelphia City Council passed legislation this week that would put three questions on the ballot in the May 19th primary. These are the pesky little queries that you may or may not have heard a damn thing about in past years until the moment you stepped into the voting booth on Election Day.

Here are the questions Council approved this week in separate measures. They all seek to amend the city charter:

  • One question would ask if the city charter should be changed to require all local agencies to produce language access plans. The goal is to ensure that residents who don’t speak English are able to obtain city services. An executive order signed by Mayor Michael Nutter mandates that departments in the executive branch develop such plans, but it doesn’t apply to the City Council, District Attorney’s office, Sheriff’s office, City Commissioners’ office or Register of Wills. “Our office has been called to provide translation services for marriage ceremonies,” says Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, the only Latina on Council and the sponsor of the legislation. “I think it really does support our idea that this is a global city.” Quiñones-Sánchez says the cost of implementing language access plans will be minimal.
  • Another question would ask if the city should create a commission to come up with a plan for establishing universal pre-K in Philadelphia. It would also propose ideas for funding universal pre-K. “Studies show that children do so much better with pre-K,” says Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who introduced the measure. “We don’t have all the money for it, but at least if we force the discussion, we think we’ll be closer to getting it done.”
  • A third question would ask if the city should create a Commission for Women. Made up of 27 volunteer members, it would advocate for policies aimed at helping women, and give advice to City Council and the mayor about the issue. “Women continue to earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Despite representing 52.8 percent of the city population, women occupy only 11 percent of corporate board seats in Philadelphia,” says Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who sponsored the proposal, in a statement. “The Commission for Women would provide the foundation for change.”

The measures now go to Mayor Michael Nutter‘s desk.