Issues

Jobs and Opportunities

“A rising tide lifts all boats”. People want a better life. A good job is a starting point. Obtaining a great job is a goal for many. Others will create their own business and do things their way. Creating an environment that is attractive to employers and investors results in more jobs of all sorts. The more jobs, the higher the wages and benefits. More jobs mean more opportunities for people to provide goods, services and entertainment for those with money to spend.  

As a Councilman At-Large and Chairman of the Global Opportunities and Creative/Innovative Committee, I have not worked hard to improve Philadelphia’s job market and entrepreneurial opportunities. I have fought against well-intended but job killing laws and practices. I have traveled at my own expense, to other cities and countries, to meet with major employers about locating and investing in Philadelphia. I have also fought to keep employers here in Philadelphia. I have organized small businesses and established task forces for the music industry and film and television industry. I created a free platform for aspiring musicians called PHL LIVE Center Stage. I held an extensive hearing to evaluate Philadelphia’s competitiveness in the global economy.

While we all want great outcomes for our residents, we can’t legislate those results into existence. We have to build the infrastructure to produce those results. Legislating results without the means to achieve them causes the loss of jobs and opportunities. I work hard to produce better outcomes by creating a city that attracts and encourages the private sector to build the infrastructure our City needs to have more jobs and better opportunities..

  • Founded and Chairs City Council’s Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy
  • Created America’s first veterans hiring tax credit, giving $15,000 in business tax credits over 3 years to any employer who hires a returning veteran in Philadelphia
  • Introduced bill to cut wage and net profit taxes on Philadelphia residents by $100 million over 11 years
  • Introduced bill to encourage businesses to create more jobs for workers without college degrees; employers who create 1,000 new jobs paying at least $45,000/yr with benefits would pay fewer business taxes as long as 500 or more of those jobs were available to job seekers without highly-specialized skills or post-secondary education
  • Introduced bill to create an International Trade and Investment Fund to focus on creating businesses opportunities and jobs through promoting Philadelphia-based trade and encouraging foreign investment in Philadelphia
  • Traveled to South Korea in 2012, 2014, and 2016 to develop investment, trade and tourism between Philadelphia and Korea
  • Working with private and public stakeholders, introduced legislation to increase the availability of lab spaces and incubation facilities in Philadelphia for startup biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies
  • Formed Philly Neighborhood Small Business Coalition
  • Created the Film Industry Task Force and the Music Industry Taskforce
  • Created the annual PHL Live Center Stage Music Initiative
Education

Good quality education is the best way to unlock the potential of our people and create a better city, now and in the future. It is also the best indicator for many employers whether they will locate their jobs in our city. It also reduces crime, depression, drug addiction and many other ills that plague our city. I’ve used my experience as a board member of Community College of Philadelphia, Hahnemann University (PHEC), Nazareth Academy High School and the alumni associations of Central High School and Dickinson College in examining how Philadelphia can dramatically improve the quality of education. I organized and held a joint hearing on best practices in public education based on the best performing school systems in the world. We looked at cities that were similar to, or even more challenged than, Philadelphia. The result was a report that provided key findings that serve as a guideline for building an excellent and equitable education system. I introduced a Charter Change bill to restructure the governance of our Schools so that we could better define our goals, establish a longterm plan, provide transparency and accountability to the public, and see immediate results. Good quality education is not limited to public schools or a high school degree. We need a comprehensive plan that includes all schools, vocational/career training and college, as well.

  • Fighting to provide fair funding to the Community College of Philadelphia to reduce financial burdens on students 
  • Introduced bill to create a Student Debt Tax Credit of up to $7,500 to help residents with student debt and to encourage recent graduates to choose to live and work in Philadelphia
  • Fighting for more vocational education and training in public schools
  • Fighting to restore local control over the Philadelphia Parking Authority and use the money to help Philadelphia, not Harrisburg
  • Found excess money in the City’s General Fund that could fully pay for PHL Pre-K without a soda tax
  • Introduced a budget amendment to fund school district costs without property tax increases
  • Provides school supplies and equipment to local public schools in need of assistance
  • Introduced bill to create The Philadelphia School Teachers Reimbursement Fund, a City-run nonprofit that would reimburse personal money spent by teachers of the Philadelphia School District for the purchase of supplies, materials, and equipment for classroom
  • Successfully fought to restore local control of the School District of Philadelphia from the Commonwealth and introduced legislation to establish reforms based on global best practices 

Crime

Everyone must be safe from crime. Unless people have the confidence that they are safe, they cannot enjoy all the benefits that our City has to offer. We must ensure that our neighborhoods, schools, recreation areas, public gathering spaces, public transportation and commercial areas are peaceful and safe. In order to achieve this, regular patrolling and visible protection is needed from courteous, well-trained and responsive law enforcement personnel, equipped with the best and most up-to-date technology to ensure faster and more appropriate response. A strategy of community-oriented policing based on a partnership between stakeholders and law enforcement ensures a public service approach to peace keeping. 

As a lawmaker, I bring years of crime fighting and prevention experience to city government. I started my legal career as a Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney. I served on the Police Advisory Commission. As an attorney, I represented persons accused of crimes. I was a board member of Crime Prevention Association. I’ve been to every Police District in our city and met with thousands of victims, witnesses and family members. I’ve prosecuted hundreds of felony and misdemeanor criminal cases. I also fight for intelligent criminal justice reform to ensure that only proper evidence initiates the process and determines the outcome.

Public Safety

One of the most important functions of City Government is to ensure that the public is safe from fires, hazards, defective conditions and other dangers, disasters and emergencies.  That includes everything from safe road conditions, healthy food, proper demolition, clean water, clean air, sturdy bridges and ramps, dependable elevators to safe public transportation systems. In order to ensure the public’s safety, the City must deploy the proper number of qualified inspectors on a regular basis including on the weekends and at night.  

 

  • Passed legislation to declare 2016 The Year to Combat the Heroine Abuse Epidemic in Philadelphia
  • Organized a series of regional community meetings about the opioid crisis
  • Served on the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic
  • Led a series of neighborhood cleanups under the Market-Frankford Line in Kensington
  • Authored report of findings and recommendations to address the opioid epidemic which was adopted by Council
  • Introduced legislation to hold hearings on drones and other cutting-edge technology being used in solving and preventing crimes
  • Secured $64 million to honor firefighter’s contract
Quality of Life

Philadelphia is a “city of neighborhoods”. With such a variety of choices, there is likely a neighborhood that’s right for you. But regardless of which neighborhood you live in, to get the most out of where you live, it should offer the quality of life you expect. This means that quiet neighborhoods should be quiet and vibrant neighborhoods should be vibrant. But all residents expect dependable services and maintenance of amenities particular to their community. Among them trash collection, recycling, noise levels, clean public spaces, libraries, arts and culture, well maintained parks, clean and healthy environments. The City also offers additional resources such as trails, biking, boating, exercise, sports, shopping, restaurants and group activities.

 

  • Fighting inaccurate property assessments that lead to higher property taxes by introducing legislation to reject Tax Year 2019 property assessment and taxes
  • Held hearings in City Council about the problems of unjustified family separations by the City’s Department of Human Services
  • Defended homeowners from squatters by establishing a new civil process with police response
  • Introduced bill that would require the City to invest $50 million per year in affordable housing
Tax Reform

City Government should never take more taxes than it needs from its citizens. It must use the money wisely and carefully. Otherwise, taxes intended for the public good become misused as wasteful spending or corruption. Philadelphia has a high, complicated and unstable tax structure that is unattractive. It carves out exceptions to entice investment. It changes these and increases and decreases. It creates new taxes, fees, fines and penalties. All of this creates complication, uncertainty and instability. Philadelphia needs to have comprehensive tax reform to make our city more attractive to employers, investors, businesses, visitors and residents. Lowering and eliminating certain taxes actually produce greater revenues. Ensuring that the taxes are legal, logical, and fair. 

 

 

Citizen’s Rights

Government must serve the people and not abuse the people. In order to do that, it is critical that government act according to the law in a manner that is fair, transparent and accountable. A system of checks and balances is an effective way to encourage a more honest government. City Council is a check and balance on the Mayor. In addition, the Home Rule Charter established two Minority At-Large positions to be a check and balance on the Majority. As one of the two At-Large members of Council, I understand that role of being a check and balance. 

 

  • Passed bill to increase minority and women participation in City funded projects by strengthening the enforcement of City contracting law
  • Passed bill to protect nursing mothers from being fired or harassed for pumping breast milk, requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for breast pumping in the workplace
  • Introduced bill to help victims of sexual harassment in city work places by protecting them from being retaliated against during an investigation
  • Defended Asian business owners from having to remove bulletproof glass
  • Fought against unfair, discriminatory enforcement of late-night opening hours laws against Asian-operated takeout restaurants
  • Launched the annual Asian American Voter Registration Drive/Community Outreach Initiative (AAVRD), a non-partisan voter registration drive for Asian American communities in Philadelphia
Veterans

As the only veteran on City Council, I am proud to serve those who served. From creating Philadelphia’s tax credit for employers who hire returning veterans to advocating for veteran’s healthcare technology, I have worked hard to ensure veterans not only receive the benefits they’ve earned, but that they are respected and appreciated in our city.

  • Established August 17th First Responder Appreciation Day to build community relationships with first responders and to thank them for their service
  • Took on the Nutter administration and successfully ordered that $66 million be set aside for firefighters contract
  • Co-sponsored a bill that doubled payouts, from $50,000 to $100,000, to immediate family of police and firefighters who died in the line of duty
  • Passed resolution urging the Department of Defense to include the names of Philadelphia native Patrick Corcoran and his 73 fellow fallen sailors of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Passed resolution urging the PPA to make Veterans Day (November 11) a non-ticketing holiday
  • Held hearings on treatment options for veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI
  • Raised $67,000 through community fundraisers for the Green Beret Fund, Special Forces Association, and other veteran service organizations
  • Hosts the annual United Services Organization Service Member of the Year Awards in Philadelphia City Hall
  • Hosts the annual Korean War Anniversary Ceremony with local Veterans

 

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