Parker offers a no-nonsense city budget

By tradition, the legacy media waits 100 days to assess the performance of a new president, governor, or mayor.

Mayor Cherelle Parker delivers budget address

I’ll jump the gun with my assessment of Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker who is (say it all together now) the city’s 100th mayor and first female mayor and Black female mayor.

Once you say all that, is there anything more to say?

Well, yes.

Because none of that matters. 

Frank Rizzo didn’t get Brownie points for being the first Italian-American mayor, and Ed Rendell had no wind at his back for being Philly’s first Jewish mayor. [Bernard Samuel, whose parents were Jewish, became mayor in 1941, but he converted to Episcopalian before that. His term ended in 1952, Philly’s last Republican mayor.] 

Parker has been a member of the state House, and Philadelphia’s City Council, and none of that matters, either. What matters is what she says and does now.

I like what I see and what I heard in her Thursday State of the City address that revealed her aspirations in a $6.29 billion budget. In the immortal words of George H.W. Bush, this is her “vision thing.”

Also channeling that former president, she said three words: No New Taxes.

Although she did say there would be much additional spending investments in the city. 

You notice how politicians never spend money; they invest it. When you buy a new car, it is an expense. When the city buys a new car, it is an investment. Just to be clear.

Oh! You may wonder — especially if you are a Republican — how you can spend more while taxing less. 

Easy. Philadelphia has tucked into the mattress several hundred million dollars sent to the city by President Joe Biden the federal government, those lush pandemic relief funds. (Dirty secret: The city will issue a $295 million bond. And Parker cuts no existing wage or business taxes. Sssh.)

With all that said, Parker earmarked an additional $600 million for police, fire, L&I, and the managing director’s office. Cops will get $45 million for a new forensics lab.

During her address, she called on Officer Gerald Moody, who had been a beat cop in the neighborhood she represented as a state rep, to take a bow. She talked about how the cops were welcome and knew her constituents better than she did.

She actually likes cops — good cops.

The budget requests $130 million for neighborhood and residential cleaning, $25 million for District cleaning, $32 million for expanded trash collections, $18 million to thwart illegal dumping. All these come under Parker’s promises to make Philadelphia the safest, cleanest, and greenest city in the nation. 

The proposed budget calls for the hiring of 400 new police officers, and for desk-bound officers to be reassigned to the streets, to build trust with communities.

To help salve Philadelphia’s biggest black eye, $100 million has been requested for care, treatment, and housing for Kensington. 

The budget also calls for money for Philadelphia Community College, public schools, creating economic opportunity, and 30,000 of housing. Budget documents can be found here.

Before that address, Parker showed independence from some particularly dim-witted ideas from progressives. (Not all their ideas are dimwitted.)

During the campaign, without actually using the phrase, she talked like a law and order candidate, almost like Frank Rizzo in a dress.

On the issue of crime, she ran to the right of Republican David Oh, promising to utilize what she called “Terry stops,” which is shorthand for legal stop and frisks by police. Oh said he would not do that. Parker also said she’d think about calling on help from the National Guard to tame drug-ridden Kensington, another move Oh rejected as extreme.

Meanwhile, our giant neighbor to the north, New York City, has done exactly that, bringing in the Guard to back up city police on the subways, which seem to be out of control.

Notice I said “seem.” Subway crime, like city crime, goes up and down. Right now, homicides in Philadelphia are down almost 30% from last year, but people don’t feel safer, especially when you have four shootings in as many days on Septa. Perception is reality.

Parker has been busy getting to shooting scenes, and has vehemently promised to “use every legal tool in our tool box” to quell crime. Her newly-appointed police commissioner, Kevin Bethel, voiced similar outrage.

We will see if action follows the angry words, but the words are a start, and I don’t think racial considerations will cloud Parker’s judgment, as they do D.A. Larry Krasner’s.

Unlike Krasner and her weepy predecessor, Jim Kenney, Parker grew up in a Black neighborhood and understands that African-Americans in Philadelphia are the primary victims of crime. She understands, as polls have proven, that Black people don’t want fewer cops in their neighborhood — they want more, with the understanding that they are good, fair-minded cops, like Officer Moody.

And during the campaign she promised she would hire 300 more cops —- which won’t be easy because no one who is qualified wants to be a cop — and would beef up patrols. She released a 100-day action plan on her inauguration day. 

Many shootings in Philadelphia are drug-related, and Parker seems to believe illegal drugs are a bad thing.

Imagine that.

And for that reason, she opposes the so-called “safe injection sites” (renamed “harm reduction” because everyone knows no drug use is “safe”) and also said no city funds would be spent on that nor on providing people with drug paraphernalia, such as syringes, and crack pipes. This aligns with Parker’s interest in improving health. (The Inquirer’s coverage of this story gave about 16 paragraphs to those opposing Parker’s policy, and three grafs to those supporting it.) 

Mayor Parker seems more feet-on-the-ground than head in the clouds.

To me, that is Philadelphia addytude. She is off to a good start.

14 thoughts on “Parker offers a no-nonsense city budget”

  1. So much to chew on in the above well wishes to our new mayor; I agree with the good wishes, but there is one issue that is dumbfounding in this budget:
    If 14% or more of city jobs are empty and things are probably becoming more efficient without all that dead wood, why is the city budget not reflective of those salaries no longer being paid? A 14% reduction in the taxes seems fair and appropriate.

    Thanks for noting, loud and clear, that politicians are deceiving us all ( well most of us are not fooled) and themselves call spending, “investments.” A cockamamie 1984 word game started, I think, by Obama.

  2. You were not one of her fans, a massive understatement. But you’ve presented a fair assessment of her plans. Good for you. And good for her.

  3. I agree that Cherelle Parker is talking a good game. I will hold my opinion on her 100 day address until a year as past. What I don’t like is the Mayor giving her approval to build the Sixers arena in China Town. It appears she gave support to Ryan Boyer the head of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council. I believe Boyer and his Building Trades Council were big supporters with both money and election day poll workers for the Mayor. It doesn’t bother me because I wouldn’t watch the Sixers play at either locations. I do feel bad for the people of China Town. Once again the little guy and girl’s getting squeezed out.

    1. Parker got a lot of labor support and that influenced her opinion, I am sure. I oppose the arena until Chinatown agrees to it, which keans the Sixers must make it worth their while.

  4. Hoping and praying for our Mayor and Police Department’s success in their crime reduction efforts. Let’s bring back the truancy buses and truancy center to improve attendance in our schools. Let’s initiate a curfew center on holidays and during the summer to prevent incidents. Hoping the residents support our Mayor’s efforts to improve the quality of life in our city. Good luck Mayor Parker.

  5. Stu, Parker’s budget does nothing, nothing, to ameliorate the effects of the city’s uncompetitive tax structure and by proposing more debt commits the city to higher taxation in the future. Yes, that’s better than Gym would have done, but that’s also setting a low bar.

    And it’s not just the wage tax although that’s one thing. It’s also the city’s very high real estate transfer tax, School Income Tax, Net Profits Tax, Business Tax, parking tax (higher than NYC’s), extra 2% sales tax, and others like the soda tax and cigarette tax that one can escape merely by purchasing your cigs and soda in the neighboring counties.

    And, there’s the nonsensical laws and rules on certain businesses like fast food joints and other that apply to all employers that are too numerous to name.

    This former Philly resident advises anyone who doesn’t have to locate their business in Philly (some, like restaurants, have to be there) to consider locating in the surrounding counties. The attitude of City Council is that residents and businesses are cows to be milked to the greatest extent possible. And then they wonder why people leave?

    1. Surely you didn’t miss this line: And Parker cuts no existing wage or business taxes.
      In the past, I have written about the 200 taxes Philly loads on citizens, and will again.

  6. “To help salve Philadelphia’s biggest black eye, $100 million has been requested for care, treatment, and housing for Kensington.”
    The Kensington and Harrowgate neighborhoods do not have housing problems; they have crime, safety, and quality of life problems caused directly by the Kenney administration’s incompetence and indifference, even after it became a worldwide embarrassment and tragedy. This problem was manufactured by a coordinated effort of abysmally stupid politicians and enablers who blasted out the message that drug addiction and selling are welcome in Kensington and Harrowgate.
    Many have died on these streets because of their insistence on giving drug addicts needles and anything else they need to essentially and slowly kill themselves.
    Care and treatment yes; If the mayor is suggesting placing addicts into local housing then this would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Their only desire is to inject poison into their veins; their chosen home are the streets, sidewalks, and subway stations.
    This “housing” would turn into drug dealing and drug shooting galleries.
    Ideally, the addicts should be removed from those neighborhoods and then sent back to their respective cities and families or forced into treatment.

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