Note: This report misidentifies Baltimore's City Council as full-time. It is part-time.
Members of Los Angeles' city council draw the biggest salaries, those in San Antonio the smallest. Philadelphia's city council members have been in office the longest and San Diego's and Houston's the shortest. The council in Detroit spends the highest percentage of the overall city budget on its own operations, the one in New York the lowest.
These are just some of the findings of City Councils in Philadelphia and Other Major Cities: Who Holds Office, How Long They Serve, and How Much It All Costs. The report compares 15 city councils, including the 10 largest, along a number of quantifiable measures. Among these items are council budgets, staffing, salaries, certain electoral conditions, tenure and the representation of historically underrepresented groups.
The following interactive graphic shows how each of the 15 cities compared as of Dec. 31, 2010:
The 17 current members of Philadelphia City Council have served longer, on average, than their peers in 14 other big cities, and they comprise Philadelphia's longest-tenured council in at least the past six decades.
At 15.5 years, Philadelphia's average council tenure at the end of 2010 was approached only by Baltimore and Chicago at roughly 13 years each. In Philadelphia, first-term members held only 18 percent of the seats; they held more than a third in most of the other cities studied. Council President Anna Verna has been in office 35 years, longer than any other Philadelphia City Council member since at least 1920, and two other members have served for more than 30 years.
Longevity, which can be both a positive and a negative force in government, is one of a number of measurable characteristics of city councils that The Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative examined in the nation's 10 most populous cities plus five other large cities chosen because of their similarity and/or proximity to Philadelphia. They are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose and Washington, in addition to Philadelphia.
Among the other key findings are these:
Philadelphia Research Initiative has obtained copies of financial disclosure forms for members of Philadelphia City Council for the past three years. Among other things, the forms show outside jobs that some Council members have held while in office.
The following errors were found subsequent to the release of the report. They have been corrected in the online PDF.