Green: Lifting city workers political activity ban can wait

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia City Councilmember said he will not rush through legislation that could eliminate the ban on political activity for city workers. At a Council committee hearing on the bill Monday, he said he plans to reintroduce it early next year. 

Councilmember Derek Green had proposed a charter change question, asking whether city workers should be allowed to volunteer on certain campaigns — federal, statewide or state races — outside the city.

“This was actually brought to me by a city employee who was concerned (about) their inability to participate in a campaign, especially a presidential campaign,” Green said.

Librarian Richard Levinson testified many city employees consider it a battle for the fate of the country.

“Please don’t send us into this fight with our hands tied behind our backs,” Levinson said. 

But Michael Cooke, of the Board of Ethics, reminded the committee the ban on political activity was designed to remove the corrupting influence of pressure from party bosses.


“The board believes it’s very important to take great care since we wouldn’t want a resurgence of any of those problems,” Cooke said.

While Green ended up agreeing with witnesses who asked for more time to consider the ramifications of ending the ban, which was placed in the 1951 city charter, he continues to believe the ban is too broad, maybe even unconstitutional.

“Our home rule charter is much more restrictive than most cities in the country, even more restrictive than for most federal employees,” he added. 

He said he still hopes to get the charter change question on the primary ballot.

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