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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.