COMMENTING RE PROPOSED CHANGES TO PHILADELPHIA'S HOME RULE CHARTER
WHEREAS, the City Council of The City of Philadelphia has by ordinance created a Commission to propose amendments to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has an interest in the equal, efficient and fair administration and access to justice and in the public perception thereof;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association's Civil Right's Committee has presented to the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association recommendations for amendments to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter which will promote the equal, efficient and fair administration of and access to justice as carried out by the government of the City of Philadelphia, and in particular the Commission on Human Relations (Commission), which is the primary body for enforcement of the Fair Practices Ordinance of the City of Philadelphia;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Governors endorses the following recommendations:
1. Recommend that the language used in the Revised Charter be gender neutral.
2. Recommend that the independent boards and commissions be authorized to employ independent counsel in the exercise of their quasi-judicial functions; the independent boards and commissions specifically in need of counsel in such circumstances are the Commission on Human Relations, the Civil Service Commission and the Tax Review Board.
3. Recommend that where the Revised Charter identifies protected classes, those enumerated include all those listed in the Fair Practices Ordinance, Sec. 9-1100 et seq. of the Philadelphia Code, i.e., gender, ancestry, sexual orientation, age, marital status, familial status, source of income and disability, and any protected classes that may be incorporated in future ordinance or statutes.
4. Recommend amendment of Chapter 7 of the 1951 Charter to include a provision requiring all city offices, departments, and agencies to cooperate with the commission.
5. Recommend amendment of Chapter 7 of the 1951 Charter to permit the Commission to issue reports and recommendation, including recommendations or proposals related to legislation and law enforcement, to government offices and agencies and to the public.
6. Recommend amendment of Chapter 7 of the 1951 Charter to permit the Commission to make rules and regulations governing the methods, timing and procedures by which investigations and hearings are carried out, and governing methods and procedures by which parties and witnesses may be encouraged or compelled to participate in hearings or cooperate with investigators. It is contemplated that such rules and regulations may include provisions for designation of the Commission's staff to conduct investigations, for hearing examiners of hearing officers to conduct any public hearings or take evidence, and for counsel to present evidence and advocate positions in connection with such hearings.
7. Recommend amendment to Chapter 7 of the 1951 Charter to require the Commission, when it conducts investigations and hearings, to make the grounds and reasons for its findings and conclusions known to the public and to the parties interested in the matter under investigation, except when it is prohibited by law from doing so, and that the Chancellor or designee of the Chancellor is authorized to present the above recommendations to the Home Rule Charter Amendment Commission and to appear before the Charter Commission in connection with presentation of the recommendations on any date as required by the Charter Commission.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: November 19, 1992