Monday, January 24, 2011

The writing is on the wall at the Philadelphia City Council.

With the stink of the DROP program hanging low in the air at Broad and Market Sts., some of the "lifetime" council members are calling it a day.  This is turning out to be the most important period in recent history for anyone looking to bring ethical leadership into Philadelphia municipal government.

Remember' every budget, bill, regulation, and senior staff appointment goes through the council.  Therefore, much of the sense of hopelessness and acceptance regarding the corruption and mismanagement in city government is, at one point or another, the responsibility of the Philadelphia City Council (which has been led by Anna Verna). 

It's important to remember that just because many of these council members aren't seeking reelection, doesn't mean that "fresh" blood will be injected in city hall.  Many of the retiring members are "anointing" their replacements through support of the same political clubs (democratic organizations, coalition of ministers, etc.) that have kept them in power (and patronage) for upwards of thirty years. 

When selecting which council member to vote for, keep a close eye on what experience they've had before and what they want to do...
  • Were they already a part of the machine, and are now seeking a promotion in power?
  • Are they allied with the same people who have sunk us deep in debt, mismanagement, and dysfunction?
  • What is their platform?  Any fool can say "I'm going to bring change to City Hall".  Just as you would when hiring a contractor to do a service for you or when buying a new car, don't be afraid to ask important questions like:
1.      How do you intend on bringing real change to city hall?
2.      What changes do you intend to make?
3.      How do you expect to do that when you are beholden to the political machine that has given us leaders like the Street brothers, Vince Fumo, Carl Greene, John Green and others.

A lot of Philadelphians vote along platforms and party lines out of habit.  Whether it's because of your union affiliation, ministry, or sometimes race; many people in our great city don't carefully research all the facts on the candidates requesting their vote....but probably should. 

A great example is the upcoming race for Sheriff.  Months ago, around October, I heard that State Representative Jewell Williams, a former Philadelphia Police Officer, has been picked to succeed Sheriff John Green after 24 years of power as the democratic candidate for Sheriff in the upcoming election.  Shortly thereafter, the media has finally portrayed the Sheriff's role (due to non-collection) in the massive city budget shortfall, as well as the missing $53 Million dollars owed to homeowners following sheriff sales.  Now I ask you, do you feel ok about voting for the guy that Green's people picked to continue "business as usual", simply because he is the only ex-cop who is active in the party that meets the same demographic?

I don't.  I believe ethical leadership means that every candidate should have a fair chance without inappropriate influence asserted by an "old boys network" that have succeeded in plunging our city into a legacy of crime, corruption, crumbling infrastructure, and inept leadership resulting in a ridiculous budget deficit. 

The good news is that it can be reversed…I personally witnessed it in New York in 1993, when New Yorkers elected Rudy Giuliani, an complete outsider to city government and the first Republican Mayor of New York since 1945.  In just two mayoral terms, crime was dropped and businesses saved from leaving the city, reversing a 25-year decline in the average quality of life for residents of the most expensive city in America. 

If a city of 8,391,881 residents can make a u-turn in 8 years, why can’t this city of 1,547,901 say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” and make a change as well?    

Verna likely will not seek a 10th term

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