The House of Representatives in Pennsylvania joined the State Senate to abolish the allegedly corrupt Philadelphia Traffic Court by a vote of 117 to 81.
State Senator Dominic Pileggi sponsored the measure through Senate Bill number 33 which approves the abolition of the Philadelphia Traffic Court from the state constitution. A further initiative sponsored by Pileggi would pass the responsibilities of the Traffic Court to the city’s Municipal Court which would eliminate the requirement for three traffic court judges positions.
Philadelphia is the only county that has a Traffic Court and as a result of recent federal imposed indictments of a number of Traffic Court judges, Pileggi indicated that there was now no need for one
Pileggi stated in a press release that the traffic court has proved to be an embarrassment to the state’s judicial system and its existence is now no longer necessary.
If Senate Bill 334 is finally approved and Gov. Corbett agrees, voters will then make a final decision if an amendment should be made to the state constitution that would demolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court.
There is not full agreement on the issue. The Democratic State Representative, Ron Waters, stressed that the state is attempting to erase the rights of Philadelphia voters to have the right to elect city officials.
He said the move is aimed at removing voters’ ability to select their officials and he was personally against anything that takes away the constitutional rights of our citizens.
Traffic ticket manipulation has been a silent problem for decades in Philadelphia, but the truth has never been fully investigated or revealed. Earlier in the year, nine sitting and former Traffic Court judges and two locally based businessmen were indicted in the federal court which then initiated the process of alleged corruption.
Attorney Zane Memeger in January revealed the 77-count indictment and alleged that there was an embedded culture of traffic ticket-fixing which included priority treatment of family members, members of the business community and anyone who had clear political connections. Ron Waters strongly believes that Philadelphia is not the only place that experiences corruption but admits there are little clear solutions for cleaning up the corruption. He also emphasized that allowing the municipal court to handle traffic violations would simply overburden an already busy court. He believes that better candidates are needed rather than disbanding the traffic court altogether.
Zack Stalberg, CEO and President of the Committee of Seventy, emphasized that his organization believes that the only way to clean up the scandals is to eliminate the Traffic Court completely. Up to now, Traffic Court judges are selected based on their contributions to campaigns and friends.