A dozen ways the next mayor can fix Philly

No, I am not going to run for mayor (again).

While a Daily News columnist I ran several times as a satire of mayor elections. It gave me a platform from which I could put some ideas on the table.

I am going to do that again, without the political campaign.

In the past, one mayoral election year, SEPTA funding was in jeopardy. Since I don’t like raising taxes, I looked for ways the agency itself could raise funds.

For SEPTA, I suggested a club car for the subways where snacks and drinks would be sold. Also a first-class car with armchairs, seatback TVs, and wireless service. Like on Amtrak. 

Schools always need money, no matter how many times taxes are raised to fund them. In 1995, it was the 10% tax on alcoholic drinks to fill the gap. Thanks, Mayor Ed Rendell.

The gap returned, so in 2014 Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law a tax of $2 on every pack of cigarettes.

Guess what? 

That’s right — the gap returned again so Mayor Jim Kenney in 2016 signed into law what was called the “sugary beverage tax,” which amazingly taxed diet soda that has no sugar, and many other beverages.

Not surprisingly, beverage sales dropped and — guess what — the school district needs more money. Again.

A cheesesteak tax? A soft pretzel tax? A water ice tax? 

OK, this is a good place to start my list of what I want our next mayor to do.

1- The mayor must demand the school board must cut budget by 10% and demand test scores rise by 10% in three years. No cutting teachers, nurses or librarians. Cut bloated middle management and especially anyone hired to oversee DIE — Diversity, Inclusion, Equity. 

The district is 64% Black, 15% Hispanic, 13% white. The reminder is Asian and others. That is plenty diverse and inclusive. Equity? What does that even mean? Everyone gets the same grade irrespective of effort or achievement?

2- Increase funding for ACCT Philly, the city’s animal shelter, by enforcing the law requiring all dogs to be licensed. Fewer than 10% of Philly dogs are “Legal.” 

3- Appoint a new police commissioner. There’s no question Mayor Kenney made an appointment based on checking boxes (a) Black, (b) female, rather than checking credentials. Hire from within the department.

4- Restore selective stop-and-frisk, which is constitutional. Make sure the new commissioner takes responsibility for doing it right.

5- Revoke our city’s Sanctuary City status. It is a magnet for illegals and undermines respect for the law. We should continue to attract legal immigrants.

6- Before adding more (under-used) bike lanes, put it to a referendum. 

7- Ban (un)safe injection sites. Instead, arrest drug pushers and users. Sellers go to jail, users go to rehab, in prison if necessary.

8- Hire civilians, emphasis on the handicapped, for police district clerical work, freeing uniformed officers for street duty. Their pay scale will be less than sworn officers.

9- Extend the Broad Street subway into the Navy Yard.  Create a subway line along Roosevelt Boulevard into Center City. 

10- Build mixed-income housing in the Navy Yard, including subsidized housing for the working poor. High-end single homes will be built along the water’s edge, complete with docks and boat houses for pleasure water craft. 

11- Cut the City Hall work force by 10%. Money saved goes to the schools.

12- Fix pot holes. All of them.

Please suggest additions to this list. 

8 thoughts on “A dozen ways the next mayor can fix Philly”

  1. Stu, I am with you on many of your ideas, but not on drugs. Too much money and too much demand. Remember, we tried prohibition already. How’d that work out? The “war on drugs” has been fought since Nixon. Drugs are still winning.

    1. Disagreement is always welcome. I’m not endorsing anything as grandiose as a “war on drugs.” I want drug dealers to be jailed, and addicts to be treated.
      Example: Arresting bank robbers won’t stop bank robberies, but we do it anyway, to enforce the law.

      1. Stu, big difference. Robbing banks harms other people. Intentionally harming others we make illegal. Taking drugs harms some users (not all by a long shot. See alcohol.). Those who are harmed are harming themselves. Much of that harm is because the drugs are illegal.
        Imagine how many fewer overdose deaths there would be if addicts could buy pharmaceutical grade fentanyl in known quantities?

        1. It is obvious that drug sales DO hurt people, more so than bank robberies, because my deposits are insured. Arrest the drug dealers, confiscate their ill-gotten goods to pay for treatment for addicts. Would you encourage a young person to START taking drugs? Of course not.
          So why encourage someone to KEEP taking drugs?

  2. Reading your suggestions for making Philadelphia a livable city again, I am reminded of what a disaster the city has become: lousy schools, drugs, rampant crime, bloated and useless government bureaucrats, horrible roads…et cetera, ad nauseum. I say plow the entire place under, sprinkle salt on the land, and wait a few years and then start over.

  3. I’m with you on all of those and it reminds me why we moved! But, it’s nice to dream Stu. None of that will happen.

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