Philadelphians For Ethical Leadership invite you to a forum tomorrow night

Picture 3 A few weeks back, I grabbed lunch with Ben Mannes, an affable guy who wanted to talk about his group’s Citywide Forum on Public Integrity. Expected to speak are 1st Deputy City Controller Harvey Rice, Special Agent John Roberts of the local FBI public-corruption squad and Patrick Blessington, former head of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit and current chief of Special Investigations for the D.A.’s office.

Here’s how Mannes explained the impetus for the group itself (counter to what I thought coming in, it has more depth than a Tea Party variant; more along the lines of upstarts trying to take the city Republican Party leadership down):

Since moving here, I’ve observed my fellow Philadelphians “accepting” corruption as a way of life here. I want the forum to serve as an educational reminder that our elected and senior-appointed civic leaders here are employed by the citizenry, and it’s the responsibility of the citizens to act as the public’s watchdog.

I’ve called together three non-elected public officials who have a track record of enforcing public corruption at all three levels of government (Federal, State, and Local) to discuss what’s happening, address the rise in public integrity scandals of late, and inform the public on how they can help stop corruption by organizing citizens and reporting these issues as they are observed.

I’m hoping that people come out for this free event to make a counter-statement to the panelists and the media that may be in attendance that citizens do care about corruption and will do what it takes to root it out. …

This will be the 1st time ever that non-political members of the Federal, State, and Local watchdog agencies will be on a panel explaining how public corruption is investigated, by whom, and how it is best reported.

The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Central Library (1901 Vine St.), Montgomery Auditorium. It’s the type of public discussion of which we need to have more, even if it’s with people we don’t agree on the issues themselves.

If you’d like to read more about Mannes and the group, check out their site.

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