Days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, I am still shaken as a parent and disheartened as a human being. I walked into my first-grader's classroom on Monday to read to the class. Looking at each smiling innocent, it was impossible to begin to imagine the profound illness it would take to walk into such a classroom intent on killing. While we struggle to comprehend this act, we know all too well that in this country we continue to allow easy access to the weapons that facilitate massacre after massacre.
Polls were crowded and lines to vote were long on Election Day here in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. It is a political maxim that voters engage and turn out for presidential elections. But, in the four years between the presidential contests, Philadelphia polling places can be awfully lonely. If we are going to make Philadelphia the city we know it can be, we have to change that fact and come out to vote in local races—as they can be much more important to our day-to-day lives than national contests.
Looking forward to next Tuesday’s election, most voters are consumed by the presidential contest and other federal races, but Philadelphia voters will also be able to weigh in on a number of ballot questions that deserve some thoughtful consideration. Here is how I approach the tradeoffs involved with these issues.
With the Actual Value Initiative pushed back until 2013, we can take our time to make real estate assessments fair and accurate in a careful and considered manner. Happily, we already have an action plan and we can make it work without taxing Philadelphians out of their homes.
In the kingdom of the blind, it is said, the one-eyed man is king. But, when it comes to trying to track our money by looking at the city budget, we Philadelphians are kept in the dark no matter how many eyes we use. It's our money, but it's often hard to see where it is going because the city's number-crunchers do their best to keep the lights out. Examples from recent weeks show how blind we really are when it comes to trying to see how our money is spent.
I am generally a guy who focuses on Philadelphia matters, but with presidential politics and party conventions dominating all manner of media, it's hard not to pay attention. When I do, I can't help but notice some profound differences in how elections play out on the national level. In many ways, Philadelphians should be jealous of the way elections are contested, but the rules of the game here give us much more influence over who represents us. Most don't realize it, but individuals can, and do, make a big difference in local elections.
As the old song goes, "I'm sitting here a thinking about those Philadelphia Phillies and some may think I'm talking 'bout baseball." Like so many Philadelphians, I spend far too much of my time and energy concerned with the fate of our boys of summer. But, while I am still mourning for the 2012 Phillies, I join so many other fans in hope for the future of our team—and our city.
Last week, Mayor Nutter submitted the City of Philadelphia's plan to raise and spend public money for the coming five years to Philadelphia's state-established financial-oversight agency for review and approval. This is how it has been ever since Philadelphia flirted with bankruptcy two decades ago. But, this year, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) must reject the plan for the first time ever, and return it to the Mayor for revision because this Five-Year Financial Plan just does not add up.