We're Number 1! We're Number 1!

On my last day abroad, in between searching for British Soap Opera Magazines to deliver to Ray, I had a little time to check in, and I wow, I see we have finally come out number 1 on something. Awesome!

Among the nation's 10 largest cities, Philadelphia ranks first in the percentage of people living in poverty: 24.5 percent. Camden also ranks first among cities of its size, with 44 percent in poverty.

"I think it's very unfortunate that we are leading the country in this kind of statistic," said Gloria Guard, executive director of the People's Emergency Center in Philadelphia. "But I'm not surprised, because homelessness among families in Philadelphia reached an all-time high last year."

Cuts in social-service and job-training programs are hurting, Guard said.

OK, so, I would have preferred we led in just about any other category than that. It is a stark reminder that while the Philly boom is a great thing, a rising tide DOES NOT lift all ships.

These numbers are even more disheartening to me when thinking about the one year anniversary of Katrina. Why? Because what Katrina laid bare for me was that you can have a booming City (in parts), with a booming tourism industry (in parts), with luxurious, historical neighborhoods (in parts), while at the same time having stark, dramatic, entrenched poverty. As Ray said way back when:

what is going on in Katrina’s wake is “the ugly side of america's growing class divide, clearly displayed for the world to view.”

We are, quite simply, on the path to New Orleans. While the inland position of our City may prevent our wounds from being gashed open so broadly by a Hurricane, the entrenched poverty, the racial tension, and the inequality that existed there, waiting for a spark, is simmering and growing all the time in Philly.

Time for a Mayoral Candidate to talk about that. Time for the Governor to talk about that.

Good to 1 in something

We were the most overweight city in the U.S. also so you can't forget that. Seriously thats a problem that if you ask politicians they are goin to tell you what you want to hear, not what you can see. You need results that you can see, you don't want to hear about what was done in your first administration , you want to hear about right now. Some people are still living in the past , aren't hitting the real issues. A lot of soul searching needs to be done, also our officals need to take of their blinders and see the real Philly. We had the real world philly a couple of years ago that didn't show nothing. This is the real world philly:
1) schools are down
2)crime is up
3) there is no booming economy
4)people are afraid to leave their homes
5)don't know if the enemy are wearing white t's or 3-piece suits
6)no jobs no jobs no jobs no jobs!
are we really doing better that New Orleans right now. On my site
http://mycityscapephilly.eponym.com/blog , philly isn't even doing better than cities that are below the Mason-Dixon line , and thats bad. You know one city that was on the list that was doing better than philly before Katrina, N.O.! We have to get it together,

Junior Williams
juniorwililams007@earthlink.net
http://mycityscapephily.eponym.com/blog

Statistic like this one, in a

Statistic like this one, in addition to the homicide rate (258 deaths this year) underscores the absolute importance of the upcoming mayoral election. Frankly, I am not a John Street fan. Sure, I liked NTI to a degree, but overall, he is mediocre at best. Given the state of the national economy over the last 12 years, which has been relatively decent, and demographic factors beyond a local government's control, only a really bad mayor could honestly screw this town up. Street is not a really bad mayor, yet.

I would venture to say that we are standing at a point in time where the actual future of the city depends on this next mayor. Progress has been made over the last 16 years. At the same time, as Dan points out, we have some serious problems--not just a small underbelly. As a life-long Philadelphian, I would say that until 2006, the progress has outpaced the problems (maybe because that is what I wanted to think).

The problems, however, have caught up. Poverty is not the only issue. Just look at some of the things the next mayor will have to address, in addition to his day-to-day administration--a different economy, increased violence, increased poverty, more expensive social services, pension/civil service issues and immigration issues.

Another mediocre mayor would be devastating. In fact, continued mediocre representation in all offices, state legislature to city council, would be crushing.

The Missing Issue

There is something very strange happening right now in Philadelphia politics. Everyone is talking about crime. No one is talking about poverty. It's akin to a couple of weather forcasters talking about rain without mentioning the clouds.

FYI - Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard

RESOLUTION

Authorizing the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development to hold hearings related to economic self-sufficiency.

WHEREAS, The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Project, an innovative effort initiated in 1996, links national organizations to provide resources and technical assistance to community-based advocates and states on human resource investment policies; and

WHEREAS, The project connects with state and local partners to build and strengthen the capacity of coalitions in the states to gain support for proven strategies that can improve the chances for self-sufficiency for low-income families; and

WHEREAS, The strategies include:
• adopting a Self-Sufficiency Standard to measure how much income is needed to make ends meet and to assess the success of employment and training programs;
• targeting higher-wage employment in the development and design of education, employment and training programs and in the provision of career counseling;
• using the functional context education model to integrate literacy and basic skills with occupational skills and family support programs to improve the efficiency and success of adult education;
• improving the access of low-income women to nontraditional training and employment;
• training and support for microenterprise development;
• supporting the development of individual development accounts, allowing low-income families to develop assets; and

WHEREAS, The Pennsylvania Family Economic Self-Sufficiency project, led by PathWaysPA, has used the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania as a counseling tool to demonstrate the real costs of becoming economically independent; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development is hereby authorized to hold hearings related to economic self-sufficiency.

W. Wilson Goode, Jr.
September 21, 2006

Hearings are expected to take place in early October.
WWGjr

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