Philadelphia Mayors Forum Held by Southeastern Region of the Americans for Democratic Action

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All: 

I recently attended a Mayoral Candidates Forum for Philadelphia Mayoral election 2015. It was a cold and rainy night – it had been pouring buckets all day – but that did not put a damper on the crowd that gathered at the American Friends Service Center on Cherry Street to hear the potential candidates for the next mayor of Philadelphia.

Five of the six Democratic candidates participated in the forum sponsored by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). Each candidate had five minutes to put forth his own agenda individually in front of an audience. The audience then had the privilege of asking key questions relevant to this pivotal post. These are some of the excerpts from the forum. In all fairness to Jim Kenney, I arrived when he was near the closing of his question and answer period and did not hear the entirety of his statement. The format was the candidate had five minutes to introduce and tell about himself, why he was running for mayor, what he could do for Philadelphia, and what his first moves would be in the areas of education, ethics, jobs,  mass incarceration, and other issues key to Philadelphia's future.

By the way, I will be very up front and say that Anthony Hardy Williams and Douglas Oliver were very impressive in their presentations, their track records, their approach to the issues and their resolutions.  They were innovative, forthcoming, professional, caring, candid – with either of those wonderful choices, Philly comes up the winner in more ways than one.

Though I'm paraphrasing, where possible, or for matters of cogency, there are some quotes that I'm leaving in their entirety.  Besides, you know I never write short.  
That Said
Stay Blessed & 

JIM KENNEY– long term elected official who stepped down for City Council to run for Mayor: 

  QUESTION:  There was a commentary on the recent tragic shooting of officer Wilson, an African American police officer who was gunned down by two thugs as they tried to rob a Game Box store – Wilson had happened to have been in the store purchasing a game for his son, when they decided it was a good time to rob the store. He attempted to thwart the robbery and they opened fire on him. By the time his partner, who was sitting in the squad car, could come to his rescue, he had already sustained several gunshot wounds, which proved fatal. He died at the scene. The two were apprehended; one of whom had just been released from prison.

QUESTION: In reference to police brutality, excessive force, and mass incarceration.

KENNEY: Responded that it was more a matter of training, and being aware of, and accustomed to the culture of the community to which the officer had been assigned. “It's about cultural understanding, and about understanding how people's history shape their views of policeman today. Their motto is to protect and serve; and that's what they should be doing. That means serving, and not arresting or harrassing,” he concluded.

QUESTION: Public Education: There have been opening and closing of charters (schools) but still no money for public education. And it's always happening. Would you be willing to put in place the tax reforms for big businesses and corporations versus the home owners so that the schools can receive the funding they need?

KENNEY: “What we probably need, we need to get Harrisburg to put in a voting clause in the constitution that says you can't tax the people in different ways. There is a plan that they have been massaging and investigating about getting appropriate relief from the Commonwealth – raising the commercial rates on commercial properties higher – taking some of that money funneling it back into tax reduction, empowering more of the schools. Because we are about assessment on land property.”

He added: “Here's something that I think might generate interests for schools. There's no reason when I'm mayor, or any presiding mayor, should have a luxury suite at Citizen's Bank Building. Or a luxury suite at the Lincoln Financial Center – They can be leased by companies that don't have access to those facilities – and you make it almost a school fund raiser. So if you have a game – Eagles v. Dallas and you can get a fifty thousand dollar number, and that fifty thousand dollar clears – you put that into a fund that is run by a board that you can depend on – a good qualified board – that's where you'll have principals go and apply for productivity grants or special project grants. It could mean for us two to three million a year, depending on how good, or how bad our teams do.” (The room laughs, and rightly so – WHAT??? Most felt it was nitpicking) - at that point the moderator stopped any further conversation or questios – it was clear that Kenney was already in too deep and way off base.
ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: “I am a State Senator from Philadelphia running for the position of mayor of Philadelphia – I am a fortunate Philadelphian. And the reason why I am running for mayor is because my entire life I've had the good fortune of seeing the best of Philadelphia, and some times some of the obstacles of Philadelphia. Philadelphia has some extraordinary neighborhoods, Society Hill, Rittenhouse, Germantown, Chestnut Hill – but then the offset is that we have 27% poverty. We'll talk about the justice system and make people uncomfortable; we'll talk about who and how we provide justice for Philadelphia.


I'm a kid who grew up in Southwest Philadelphia with grandparents who loved me a great deal. Both my grandparents were postal workers, work was a part of our family; my mom was a teacher and my father was a lawyer -- a politician. My DNA comes from leveling the playing field and fighting for those who don't have access. I was fortunate enough to have parents who drove me in my lifetime to get an education, so I know what it's meant.
Philadelphia is at a point in the moment where it's either at its future of greatness, or it struggling to go along like other big cities like Detroit. And suffer the consequences.

EDUCATION: Let's be very clear I am the product of public education. My mom was a public school teacher – my entire public service has been supportive of public education. The last $45 million dollars that came to public schools was through my legislation (as a State Senator) and no they don't write about it, but trust me that would be one that is mine. The one cent sales tax was my bill. The cigarette tax was my bill. Check the records.  I just don't talk about charter schools, just like I don't talk about the school my daughter's going to – Girls High – wonderful specialist school. Mastery; – all wonderful schools and I'm involved with all those schools.

But I just want to talk about one type of school – the type of school I'm concerned about is a good school. We're divided because of the 130,000 students that are still in our neighborhood schools, they're 90% poor. 80% people of color, and they're trying to find a way out, and yes, they're driving away the charter schools. Now that doesn't mean that we have to turn our backs to them – we have to make sure the school gets better block by block, because my mom is out there, my grandson goes right there – I'm never going to leave.  I'm not going to sit there and have an argument, or causally make a decision and know I have a mother who has to make another decision – it's awfully smart to invest in early {childhood} education. You know those teachers are going through some tough times. A first grade teacher who is at Anderson involved with students who are probably 10 million words behind the average student. So we have to invest in day care in Philadelphia – upgrade daycare so that the child is learning to read and do math and they will enjoy it and continue to do so; and also at the back end where you find children who are grade levels behind. After you graduate in four years back there – why aren't we taking the job training money taking it and extending the secondary level to six years, allowing them to go to community college; rather than taking out grants and not paying for it. Why can't they be trained and help them get real jobs? These are things we actually can do. These are things a mayor should be doing.”

QUESTION: Funding of public schools - If you were elected mayor, would you sign an executive order creating a pilot program?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: Yes! I would sign an executive order creating a pilot program – It will also solve our pension problems – it would take it off the general funds we use to fund education, so there are several things we can do without raising taxes.

QUESTION: His rationale for support for vouchers.

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS:  In the 9th grade Williams was struggling in the private school his mother enrolled him in; his grandfather, seeing that he was having difficulties, enrolled him into a corrective program at a school outside his district. It made all the difference in the world. Had his grandfather not taken a stand and gotten him to a school that was more suited to his need, and could help him over come his educational and academic deficits, he most likely wouldn't have become the great political figure and activist he currently is. “It's not a matter of neighborhoods or territories, it's what's best for the child. When it gets beyond that then it's not taking the best interest of the child into consideration. Why are we not allowing for decisions that is in the best interest of the child? – it was that simple for me then; it's that simple for me now – That said, as your mayor, I will not be picking any voucher programs; won't talk about voucher programs.”

QUESTION: How is it that they're closing the voc tech schools. Every child isn't academically inclined. Some children need to be a plumber, or a bartender. And there has been a move to close these trade schools down. Why?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: “I want to become the vocational mayor candidate. Because the truth is that most specialties were the foundation of Philadelphia for generations. For some strange reason, we decided to replace them with things that are soft skills instead of things that are hard reality. And what people don't realize only about 20% of Philadelphia public school students go on to college.” Stating that the type of vocational training he was speaking of was not just technical mechanical skills, “You've got Wister Institute, which is a small research institute, by the University of Penn. They will tell you everyday they need folks who don't go to college, who do certified work, and make $50,000 a year. And they can't find any of them. The public school system should be a feeder system to all the city schools in Philadelphia – plastics; bio IT Technology – that's all relevant today; that's what vocational services should look like in public schools. And so I'm a huge fan of it.”

QUESTION: When you were in the legislature, there was about $90 million in funds for the educational opportunity voucher program – and the other scholarship programs that enabled kids to go to private schools; and there was also a debate on the question of how you would use them. We have out of the district control – though many can stay central. Would you ask for an increase in the basic ed funding in the expense of the other program?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: Would I ask for an increase in EITC Money? NO – well I never have and I never will. So, of course I'm going to ask for all the monies for public schools. My fundamental thinking is that Wolf said we have $72 million for charter foundations. I want to move the conversation I want to a different level. Charters are not a panacea.” Hardy further stated that bad charters should be taken off the books; and public schools should not be allowed to be unperforming for 30 years – it's important to get the money and allow the parents to have some say in the determination of what kinds of schools to fund. – I'm more than an achiever; I'm a doer.

QUESTION: What about charter authorization process – who should be on it?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: So I think people who know more about education should be on it. The University of Pennsylania should have something to do with authorizing non-political members; not connected to a politician where he can be able to call him and say “hook one up” - non-connected programs.

QUESTION: I understand that there are nonprofit and for profit charter schools. I keep hearing that a lot of your funding that you receive for your campaign is coming from the public school – could you comment on that?

Anthony Hardy Williams: “The issues about the funding, I've gotten funds, certainly, through people who support charters and educational folks; I've gotten money from PFP; I've gotten money from independents; I've gotten money from big business organizations. I don't apologize for raising money a campaign that I'm going to need – or then they will beat me the hell up! So who supports me is in support with my record; not with whose giving me money – and that involves people many years back. I've gotten a lot of money from a lot of background people. My dad was a trial lawyer – and I voted for legislation which the trial lawyers hate. I am an independent person; I think independently and try to solve problems.”

QUESTION: What about police misconduct?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: “Well I can't control the misconduct – but this is what I would do: Say an officer punched someone in the face and got away with it. We would have a community based organization and I would give it subpoena powers –

QUESTION INTERJECTED: arbitrators are putting these officers back in the street – what would you do?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: Arbitrators have a contractual relationship – a mayor can't interrupt a contractual relationship. What a mayor can do is point out salient and important points – but I could not suspend the contractual relationship.

QUESTION: We are also concerned about mass incarceration of minority youths and then they come out and they can't get jobs. Wonder what your ideas are about there?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: “So let's break the theory down – in a city where the largest ethnic population are African Americans, they're are not the minority (someone interjected that they were not white) But they are not minorities. First of all African Americans are not minorities. First we're African Americans, we're not minorities.” (APPLAUSE)

And by the way, that population you're talking about – re-entry – is not a young person. He's not a kid any more. With a significant populace of youngsters to somebody close to 30 years old and it is a challenge. One, because of the design of what's happening in the neighborhoods – and by the way, people are looking for a special purpose. There were a number who did not come back; and I live in a neighborhood where most of them are going into business.” Hardy further stated that of the 17 employees in his office, four of them were re-entry citizens. He invisions the mayor as being a “bully pulpit” for those returnees who can be hired in different divisions of Municipal services; as well as citizens supporting some of the small businesses that are being established. He can also, as mayor, advocate for them in positions with Comcast and other corporate giants.

Hardy continued: The other thing is increasing the minimum wage – so I support it publicly. The $15.50, which I would tell you a few years ago, I would have gone ewww! But it works. It's working across the country – so $15.50 – so people who don't have much have more to spend. In fact, it's creating more jobs. It's those things that I will be standing for.”

QUESTION: Immigrants have been a good thing for Philadelphia – what is your plan to keep them coming here; and do you support the continuation of the mayor's office on immigration?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: Yes, we are a multi-cultural city; we speak multiple languages – and so one of the things with the school system – most adults speak English. My 8th district has one of the most significant immigrant population growth in Philadelphia in the last ten years. They grew up unchecked, undocumented ---- what I learned from that is that you have to meet people where they are – we're dumping kids in fifth grade and we're not supporting them in the language; and we're not supporting books at home. We have to align our agency so that the school district can be more friendly, more intelligent; a more diverse workforce that is actually able to speak a multiple language; and a system that respects the fact they want to be a part, they want to be included in the process, and we can align ourselves that way.”

QUESTION: The non-profit sector is a huge sector: However, public access TV which is supposed to be in Philadelphia has disappeared, largely because of Comcast Cable's monopoly. Especially the centers where people can manufacture create outreach material that we have developed not-for-profit-sector.”

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: To your first part about Comcast giving more – I'm all for that. I know that David L. Sorensen is a great guy from Philadelphia – I love him! And I'm glad that Comcast is here. Just like I'm glad Penn is here; like I'm glad ITT is here – but, when your taxes went up three times in the last four or five years, I love you too. You contribute more. So if it's the Comcast Public Access Channel that you want to use more – I'm for that.

MY BRIEF POST-INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAMS: He expressed concern about the disparity in the neighborhoods. “The point is me trying to unify the city so that we have a common experience; so that those who are privileged have the benefit of being able to travel to places that are not so privileged. And that we share economics to drive up those things that need to be enhanced in the city and eliminate or ameliorate those areas that have been dismally neglected and allowed to deteriorate.”

GDW: You do have some housing stock issues that are endemic to certain communities and what goes along with that is the maisma on the part of the people who live in the communities –

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: Logan is one of those - yes we do, but one thing we also now have is the Land Bank which allows the City to now begin to develop those parcels in an organized way and into the hot spots and make them attractive to a mix of developers, not just one type of developer that want to do high rises; but those who know and want to develop Grand Parent Housing, for instance, which we have a shortage of. Grandparents who are taking care of their grandchildren; disabled veterans – there's a whole category of developers out there which we need to attract to Philadelphia.

GDW: What about the community people themselves. Those who feel disengaged because – would they be involved or integrated into the development?

ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: We created a program called DAP – which causes the trades to include people of color – within communities. So you want them to be builders, and certainly, those who are able to put together the finances, to be a developer. And not have limitations on any possibilities – we have a number of next generation folks who are really smart, who come back to Philadelphia – kids of color – and they want a shot, just like you said, developing their own neighborhood that they grew up in. And they'll have a shot with me."
NELSON DIAZ - FORMER JUDGE: Spoke of how he was able to help develop market rate houses, which he was able to accomplish in “four years – and I'm proud of that. When they brought me to fix the courts, I did it in 18 months. I took all the judges and said 'Hey all you guys go to criminal!' And I had all of the wonderful judges, through their lawyers, who couldn't afford to be judges because it would have been a big pay cut."

"So I have the executive experience to make a difference in terms of changing the educational – because I'm not going anywhere but to help our children. Now what do you get out of that? You get the Millenials to stay, so you got more tax base. You got small business coming back, so you got more tax base; we will be able to fund it – it may cost a little more – and hopefully with this governor, we will get a little more. And so that's the way we're going to be able to get those schools fixed. I don't know if I answered all your questions, but it's very complicated – but it's a constitutional issue that we can use the Emergency Act – and within a year, we've got 2/3 of the House and the Senate to pass this reform we can get out of the constitution next time."

QUESTIONS: About whether Non-Profit generating profits should continue to get tax breaks:

NELSON DIAZ: I believe that any revenue generating Non-Profit should be taxed – we did it in New York at NYU – they had student housing – we leveraged it and as a result we have poor people able to live in some market rate housing (??); we did it in four years, and it was changed – and I'm proud of it!

You can tell me – you can tell them what works. We sit there until we hammer out what works and you know what – they're going to kill the union and then they will kill our public schools. We have a stake to make sure that they survive – because, I gotta tell you I am pro union. Despite the fact that some of them are going around and want to control the city – my parents – my mother was a IODWU seamstress – she never made more than $50.00, but she had job security. And my father was a doorman, and never made over $50.00 – but he had security – Area 2B – but they were part of the union. That provided for us some security, together with housing. Because we didn't pay more than $50.00 a month for housing – 25%. And I have a plan for affordable housing, also – hopefully, I can implement that. I've been successful around the country, and I'd like to have more of it here in Philadelphia, so that our people can live healthier. ...   MODERATOR CUT THE COMMENTARY SHORT
MILTON STREET – FORMER STATE SENATOR: Good evening – we have six people running for mayor. But the question is not are they intelligent, the question is whether they're career people ---- You have to elect people who can think – and who can move and think, not only in Philadelphia.

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Senator Street put forth a very salient point about the plethora of vacant and bank owned houses in Philadelphia: “You know why do we have vacant houses? Really, houses are where we get our real estate taxes from. So if you have a vacant house put a family in it to pay taxes, and maintain that house until you can find them (the original owners). I said why the heck are you looking for them? Let's move people into the houses and let the owners find us!! Believe it or not it works, because if have a house on the block, and he has a house, and she has a house, and somebody has a house, comes by and leaves it vacant, and you can't do anything about it, because you can't find me that's not right! That's your investment. Okay? Property rights – I'm not trying to infringe on property rights, I'm trying to preserve the existing real estate stock; and preserve the investment that you have in your property that some of you worked so hard to maintain; and you keep them so well. And these people come and they get these houses and they take off and leave them sit there vacant!”*

Street also thought that the city should have sold Philadelphia Gas Works for $400,000,000 despite the fact that they provide Philadelphians with the lowest, most efficient energy service in the region. His rationale was that when Philadelphia goes to Harrisburg for educational funding, Harrisburg can turn its nose up at them because they didn't sell off that asset. He further alleged that the gas works was structurally unsound and that Philadelphia did not have the capacity to maintain or repair it – and so we were sitting on a liability. However many maintained that selling off and privatization of the city's assets left the city even more vulnerable and that funding could be obtained to renovate the Gasworks as opposed to allowing it to go into other hands. 

He also stated that the conservatives in Harrisburg, with whom he had had some rapport, felt that Philadelphia wasn't serious about educating it's youth; that the students were thugs and gang members, and unruly and would not appreciate decent schools - and that it would be up to Philadelphia to prove them wrong by reforming the schools and getting the students to be better behaved.   
DOUG OLIVER FORMER VP PHILADELPHIA GAS WORKS: "I'm excited about a city that has the opportunity to re-envision itself every four years – to see how satisfied we are with what we have, and give ourselves an opportunity to do something different – based on how we felt about the first lesson. I love my city – Philly --- born and raised guy – live in the Germantown section of the city, attended a bunch of schools before the 8th grade, when I left the city to go to Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA. My life changed that day – the whole trajectory of my life changed when I got accepted into Milton Hershey School – you may be familiar with the school for disadvantaged kids.” He had attended a number of local schools, including Cedar Grove Christian Academy, before being accepted into Milton Hershey.  

"After Milton Hershey I got a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. I began my career with Beech Advertising the oldest Black owned Afro Ad Agency within the state of Pennsylvania – worked there for a couple of years. He has a Masters in Communicaiton from LaSalle University; worked for governor Rendell and Estelle Richmond as a press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare. Became Director of Corporate Communications for Philadelphia Gas Works – received an MBA from St. Joe's University; advanced to internal affairs at PGW - was responsible for local government relations. “It is where I met most of our City Council folks, and established what are very strong relationships with them right now. And ended up as press secretary for the first three years of Mayor Nutter's term as Mayor of Philadelphia.”

Oliver returned to PGW, “I enjoyed what I was learning about energy and infrastructure. I wanted to be more than just a communications and internal affairs; I was proud to have doubled the amount of natural gas flowing through our pipes during my four years there. I decided to run for mayor because, as I watched it shaping up, and always being a sort of Monday morning quarterback, in accessing the city in all – and like everybody in this room I looked at this city and think we can do better. I think we're well positioned in this city, but I also think we precariously positioned. If we don't make smart, tough decisions, now, we'll find ourselves looking – we got a cliff looking at us called the pension cliff. And if we ignore it, like some other cities have ignored it, we will go the way of those other cities. The truth is that we don't have to – we don't have to ignore it. There's a way to solve it; but the way we solve it is by finding the new solutions – there's different ways to. I know that as mayor I will look at age old problems – that not just Philadelphia has, any big city would have – problems around education, job creation; public safety – these aren't new, and they're not unique to us. They are our challenges to solve. I think the way we solve these challenges is with a different perspective. I think we have to find a way to keep the young people who come to this city here. There are a lot of folk who are here think I'm running for them – No! I'm running for all of Philadelphia and the answer to our pension fund is to grow our way out of it the way we grew our way in; we have to grow our tax base. We have this tremendous opportunity that we lose. We get folks with brain drain – folks keep leaving. Folks are staying – but the question is how long? Long enough to learn here and long enough to play here – they're not staying long enough to live here. You live here when you have kids here; and you live here when you educate your kids here. You live here when you strengthen our tax base and give us more resources to pay for city services that are needed by so many people who are less fortunate than everybody in this room.”

So finding a way to prevent --- them isn't so much for them as it is about them. And I think I am well suited to understand both the concerns that the younger generation has and why they up and leave, and don't deliver on the promises they could here; why we don't allow them to live on that promise. I've got enough experience to understand from my lifestyle, where I grew up and ---what those who do not have need; and also educated enough to be able to walk into anybody's board room and understand the concerns of business, and be able to balance off these things. The personality connect there is absolutely essential. I think we've seen what happens when city council and mayors don't get along. Sometimes we see the message is often lost because of the messenger. There's ways to get there, and I'm excited about the opportunities in front of me.”

QUESTION: In reference to educaiton and public services: Would you, if elected mayor, be willing to sign an executive order implementing private programming in Philadelphia?

DOUGLAS OLIVER: I do believe that educational institutions enjoy section of being non-profit. And if they were in the room they would explain how much value they bring to the City of Philadelphia. And I won't argue with them. I do believe that they bring hundreds of millions of dollars in economic vitality to the city – without question. But we also see that they span the communities like private developers. Issues around gentrification are happening in West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia in particular, and all across our city – I do believe that they have an obligation to contribute to the city which contributes to them so richly – I do believe that students pick the school because of the name that – William Penn, Temple – but I also believe that they take those fame because they are in the middle of Philadelphia – otherwise drop them in the middle of Wyoming and see if they still come the same way.” He continued by saying that a large part of the attraction for those schools is that they are located in Philadelphia, but he would like to work out a way to have them pay their fair share rather than making a unilateral decision of that nature. “So yes I would work to collect taxes from them. The other thing, we were talking about the funding of public schools - that's one of the first things that I would do; but the other thing I would do just generally is to find a way to generate local funding without raising taxes right now. I think raising taxes, and making us uncompetitive in other ways is something that should be avoided at all costs. I think that privatizing our assets should be avoided at all costs- am I willing to put it on the table for conversation? I'm willing to put anything on the table for conversation, but I do have those things that I prefer not to do. Both raising taxes and privatizing assets are in that category.”

He further stated that he was interested in finding ways that Philadelphia could generate its own funding sources to underwrite the programs that they need, rather than to continually go to Harrisburg, which has been done time and again, and they reach in their pockets and pull out a pittance. Philadelphia has to be in the mode of making her own way.

As the mayor I recognize that I'm not going to necessarily be able to accomplish everything that I want to do – I have a five-point plan, but I many only be able to get some things done. When you saw the mayors in other administrations what happens when you decompose the city budget because your revenues aren't what you thought they were. My prorities will be schools. My five-point plan for the city is schools. Schools! Schools! Schools! Schools! And Jobs -

QUESTION: Charter vs. public schools –

DOUGLAS OLIVER: Charter schools vs. district schools; officially there's a debate that I think unnecessarily divides us, because if we look at the city, and say, which side are you on, as a parent I like to make good choices, and if the school is not right for my son – he's 12 years old – I'd like to make the choice for him until he's old enough and educated to make it for himself. But at the same time this system still needs to educate everybody else. We're all in the same boat. It doesn't make sense for me to fix the hole in my side of our boat, and not fix the hole in your side. It just doesn't make any sense. We have to have a system that works for both of us. That said, my approach would be a little different. It would be is the school high performing or is it not? If a school is not performing, and it's a charter school, it would be a big drain on the public school system. Charter schools will take money from public schools if it's educating the kid, maybe I can deal with it. But as far as charter schools taking money from the public schools, and not educating our kids, not for it. But I would also argue that the public schools – the district schools – is failing our kids is a huge part of the problem. And we're in such chaos with the schools that it's almost a perfect opportunity to just start over and re-invision what we want. “

He went on to say that even if the schools receives funding, if the curricula is not appropriate then what? Schools are still based on an agrarian schedule where the kids got off early to go help in the fields during planting and harvest. And there are rust belts where the manufacturing plants have closed, but no new educational programs have been put forth to upgrade the skills or education of the youth.
So where are the classes around entrepreneurialship; where are the classes for high tech jobs; where are the classes around trades? The kids can come into our system and come out to be whatever it is they want to be. We have an opportunity to re-invision – figure out how much it costs, and then figure out how we'll pay for it. Again I happen to think that there is a chartered district school unfairly divides us – if I had my way, we'd get those that are underperforming and put low performing schools the way you would do at any job – you don't close the school – you change the management. You work with the school and you have to work with the teachers union – if not - you have to make it non-negotiable with us that you have to educate our kids. Anything else I'm willing to negotiate – if there's any way that our kids can have the opportunity that I was lucky to get – and I was lucky to get it. You shouldn't have to be lucky or in a lottery. You know the term lottery I feel bad when it comes to education. There should be a guarantee.”

QUESTION: Would you sell PGW to get school revenues?

DOUGLAS OLIVER : I say I put everything on the table – but there are just some things that are beyond the table. I am not a fan of privatization. I am not a fan of selling the city assets. I would think we would want to hold on – but I am also a fan of educating our kids. And I would not take anything off the table until we figured out how to do it. I'm not a fan, but I won't lock myself in a place and say that I wouldn't consider it. But when you don't have basic education fundamentally in part of your city, it's like being in a castle in the city with no plumbing and no electricity. “

QUESTION: ADA is very concerned about the ethics board; even though the charter mandates it, the ethics board – would you be willing to support it.

DOUGLAS OLIVER: Stated he would provide continued funding for the ethics board an the work that they do; keep the inspector general's office independent. I describe my five point plan as schools, schools, and schools; but the last two are jobs and fairness – jobs meaning that we have two cities – those who have and those who don't – the gap is getting wider and wider and I think education is how you bridge it. Jobs is also a high degree – fairness is another big issue.

We have 300,000 Philadelphians who are living in wretched conditions. If we think we're ever going to have a big city without employing Philadelphians, we're fooling ourselves. So I think that there's plenty we can do. We can't continue to repunish exoffenders again and again and again – they've paid their debt – and when they've paid them debt, and working to become a better part of society let them go.”

Oliver recounted how he had met a re-entry brother on the subway who had been living in a halfway house. He was trying to find a job. They sent him to an employment agency – the agency charged him money and took half his check. The place where he moved to from the halfway house took the other half of his check – and he's yet to find a job -even though he's being charged for the service. “Let them go – they've paid their debt!! “

It's not just about jobs – it's about how we manage our families and children. It's about wives and families – and you talk about school districts – We understand employers who are skeptical about hiring re-entry – and we can up the standards; and once you have done your due diligence – give them the job. Pay them. I'm in favor of the increase in the minimum wage – it may not be fifteen dollars, but it's certainly not seven dollars and some change.

And these are just basic little small things that we can do to really improve our city and get people. If we have an educated city, we have an employed city; we have a recycling city; and we have a city with a growing tax base; we have a city that's not shooting each other; we have a city that picks up the trash. These are all that can happen when you solve the core problems, and let the derivative problems take care of themselves.

As I stated at the outset, my top two are Anthony Hardy Williams and Douglas Oliver.  The bulk of the questions were posed to these two candidates, and the bulk of the answers that made the most sense and had the most relevancy for the future of Philadelphia, likewise, came from them. 

*{Actually, Senator Street has a very valid point – so much so that the State of New Jersey passed legislation in 2001 that houses that were abandoned for more than 6 months, regardless of whether the taxes were being paid on them or not, can be brought before the court by an individual or an non profit entity – and if it can be proven that it is vacant/abandoned, the individual can be awarded the property, provided that he/she live in and improve it. If the owner then shows up later to reclaim the property, he/she/it has to reimburse them triple whatever their outlay was for improving the property – but they have only 6 months to a year to make the claim – seems that Philly's Land Bank and a law of this nature would make a great deal of difference with speculators coming in, buying up properties, then leaving them idle; or banks holding them in REO so long that the interior of the properties deteriorate to such an extent that they're no good to anybody.  This is something that should be done regardless of who is elected mayor of Philadelphia - JUST SAYIN' }
This is a pivotal election for Philadelphia – there's a great deal at stake and there is no time for vacillation or antipathy. Don't let the mean stream media brainwash you either – get up and get out to at least one of the forums and see who's running.   Make it your business to be involved and cast your ballot – remember what Anthony Hardy Williams said, Philadelphia AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE NOT MINORITIES – ESPECIALLY NOT IN PHILADELPHIA.

It's yours to win or lose. 


Stay Blessed  &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson
www.gloriadulanwilson.blogspot.com/ECLECTICALLY BLACK NEWS  




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