Give us your Four Policies for Philadelphia

Below, we had an interesting post and relating comments about what it means to be a progressive. Lost in most of those comments was the genuinely important question that Caietanus posed in his post: What issues and/or policies are most important for you? If you have four make or break issues for what you want out of a candidate, what are they?

So, without any of the bloviating for which we are all known, what are your four issues?

Also, boys and girls, if you post a comment discussing anyone else's issues without first posting your own, I am just going to delete what you said. Seriously. If you aren't contributing, then don't bother tearing someone else down.

I am a jerk and all that, but, what do you say we actually get something accomplished? I don't want a history lesson. I don't want a pissing match. I just want the four issues that you most passionately care about; your deal breakers, so to speak.

My four issues are in the comments.

My four

Public Financing of Elections
Determining how to organically stimulate sustainable econ growth
Community based policing and prosecution
Sensible, efficient, and environmentally sound land use and zoning process

priorities--supporting longterm economic development

4) Philadelphia government workforce reduction
3) Government reform (improved zoning and safety policies)
2) Economic development (organic with oregano would be nice)
1) Creating an integrated city (in every way)

Liberal Not Progressive?

1.) War - People being slaughtered by the thousands in Iraq
2.) Campaign Finance - Money trumping public interest
3.) Education - Producing stupid people in bad schools
4.) Homelessness - Letting people sleep in their own shit on the sidewalk

My top 4 (1) Ethics reform

My top 4

(1) Ethics reform, public trust and good government;
(2) Public Education,
(3) Economic Development and Commercial Corridors, small business, etc.;
(4) Crime and prosecution.

Top Four Best Issues of All Time

1) Create jobs that provide a living wage, healthcare, and other benifits.
2) Encourage unionization in non-union sectors by pressuring employers through local ordinances.
3) Fight Wal-Mart and other big box stores to protect local businesses.
4) Develop a public employment program that targets at-risk youth.


1. Gun violence especially, b

1. Gun violence especially, but violence in general
2. Casinos (which I think relates to economic development and small business growth)
3. Zoning and Planning
4. Transarency in goverment & reform

MQS +++


Top 4

1. A gameplan to keep electrical prices low in Philadelphia (we're paying less than the 'burbs now). Perhaps through a decentralized network of neighborhood based solar-generators on the roofs of houses and businesses and micro turbines at the bottom of our two rivers or some larger, single facility that could offset PECO's prices when our sweetheart deal with them ends in a few years.
2. A Philadelphia CCC, which would work both to improve infrastructure throughout the city, build job skills and run around the clock, especially outside at night, thereby serving as a presence throughout the city to undermine crime.
3. Since the biggest expense of all employers is healthcare, create one enormous health plan for all employees in Philadelphia that everyone working over 25 hours a week would have to be in - though if the state went further and gave us a state level universal health plan, that would be even better. [Changed my mind: *Rehab old factory spaces throughout the city and find ways to ready them for modern businesses*].
4. Expanding the subway system within the city so that it will facilitate movement between neighborhoods (for example, imagine the benefits of a line that did Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Temple, Girard Ave, Fairmount, West Philadelphia and Southwest).

BradyDale OnLine

I also endorse the brutality

Dan's brutality, that is, on holding some discipline (i.e.- insisting we contribute our positive thoughts first before the smackdown) on a thread or two so that there is some focus (every now and then - can't make focus a habit or anything. Where would the fun be in that?).

BradyDale OnLine

Top 4

1)New ideas on gun violence like philly having separate gun laws or the idea by Jim Kenney about targeting rogue gun dealers or seeing to it that crime reducing techniques as employed in boston and nyc work in philly.
2)Opening up the delaware river waterfront - someone mentioned rehab old factory spaces. If you go around the city you see old buidlings and wonder whats going on inside them. Do business still exist there? Are these properties being held on to by the owners in hope that they can cash in should the area fall under new economic development. This issue also ties in with a corrupt city and state government that looks to reward their financial backers by increasing the value in shady land deals. I guess what I'm trying to say is economic development goes hand in hand with transparency in our local government. It is a must that new economic development does not enrich and further corrupt our elected officials.
3)Philadephia as the next great city needs to lead the way in energy independence. Septa and city fleet vehicles should be hybrids or renewable energy vehicles, places like Seatle and Portland give free parking and local tax incentives to those that drive approved hybrid vehicles. New houses should be built with alternative energy sources in mind like the rebuilding in NOLA. Either through tax incentives or stipualtions in bidding on contracts. Any new and creative ideas to push forward emerging technologies in the Philly area. We should lead the way.
4)Progressive taxation at the local level. Local taxes are regressive that needs to change.

The Price of Civilization.

1. Universal pre-kindergarten education. Subsidized day care and more after-school programs.

2. Brady’s Civilian Conservation Core (CCC) targeted at young people age 18 to 30 with components that include paid employment cleaning up the city and training. I would spend money on city beautification as much as possible counter-cyclically (if unemployment or some other measure -unemployment plus murder rate- is high commit more resources to paid employment) and I would spend money seasonally (summers). Beyond temporary employment programs my CCC would also include grants to pay for job training and or college tuition. The training and tuition assistance would include provisions that force the institutions that provide training to make an effort to track the earnings of its graduates over time. And if your graduates don’t earn a living wage and can’t find stable employment you lose permission to provide training. Give preference to training institutions that partner with private industry and that partner with multiple-employers in related industries.

3. Ok lets go for broke a refundable low-income wage tax credit. I would raise the wage-tax on commuters and leave open the possibility of wage tax credits for commuters employed in workplaces that are certified to meet some basic standard of energy efficiency or participate in the CCC either providing paid summer employment (interns) and or funding training scholarships through the CCC.

4. And of course to possibly do any of this you would need a change in the state constitution to allow for a progressive state income tax.


1) Reducing harmful environmental effects by implementing a real recycling program (weekly pickups and plastic recycling citywide) and better efficiency regarding busses, traffic lights, and building codes.

2) Municipal election reforms like instant run-off elections and public financing.

3) A planning code with teeth that encourages open space, especially in important areas like the waterfront.

4) Education reform. 50% of high school students don't graduate. That is a GIGANTIC problem, but I don't know what the answer is.

There is a push for recycling...

in philly. I can't remeber what the program/organzition is called though. Anyone know?

here's a try

1) affordable housing and equitable development
2) reform of the "insider" culture of Philly politics, whether that means pay-to-play, or do-your-time (in the Ward system) -- make government honest, open, and responsive to citizen needs
3) neighborhood-based antiviolence efforts -- whether that's community-based policing and prosecution, outreach to at-risk teens, empowerment of local groups
4) infrastructure improvement -- that means schools, transit, things that make it easier to live here, to get to and from work, and to stay through all phases of life, in all parts of the city.


my focus

1. Affordable and accessible housing opportunities for all (and I mean all)
2. Community control of planning and development (I am therefore completely opposed to casinos--for this and other reasons)
3. transparency in our government at all levels--the citizens right to know shall not be infringed in any way
4. nonviolence (including stategic nonviolence) education and implementation of full restorative justice principles into our criminal system

OK Boys

Because I define progressive as promoting innovative policy that improves the quality of life for all, my top four depends on the office. Here is my list for city officials (in order):

1) Aggressive Commitment to Ethics Reform (i.e. record of supporting legislation with teeth not legal loopholes)/ No exceptions for alligence to "political family" or "union brothers"/ No points earned if you started out as a outsider but have since compromised fundamentally to stay in the game.

2) You are not afraid of: A) A responsible budget created through an open and documented process, no more patronage!!! B) Targeted but Guarenteed BPT cuts & Property Tax Reassment with safeguards for low income owners (i.e. limits on annual changes in taxation, etc.). In other words, you better have a plan for growing jobs beyond the public payroll. Also includes: city residency requirements for unions with public contracts, building on the work of neighborhood based business incubators, etc..

3) Are you Green? Recycling, A zoning code that respects the pedestrian experience, a zoning board that reports to the community, a planning department with authority, Transit, Trees, greenspace, new sewars, less pavement, City use of Renewable Energy, Public building requirements using LEED standards, CREATE THE OFFICE OF THE ENVIRONMENT- give its director authority over all of the above. Let's join the 21st century philadelphia.

4)You are not weak on crime, and by this I mean there is nothing you won't try to get our streets safe (short of crossing the civil liberty line): Let's get those gun shops closed down, and the nussience bars, expand town watch/ provide commnity incentives to aid in prosecution, play hardball, not lip service with harrisburg, build strong relationships with suburban leaders, copy every single plan that any other city has used successfully.

(Education would have been on this list but- it is a state issue)

Now that I have posted suggestions

For those who suggested that the city hire all of our aimless teenagers: Who is going to pay for this? Is this the best or even most cost efficient way to get kids off the streets and get them into the workforce? How long should the city keep each person employed? Because unless there is another job, related to the skills they learned working for the city waiting in the pipeline, this is nothing but a band-aid. How about promoting job training and internship programs like the one currenty being pushed hy the chamber of commerce, expanding recreation opportunities, tying in high school coursework to real world expeireince.

Just want more details thats's all.

Holy Crap!

There are so many amazing progressive possiblities!

If anyone thinks that the '07 elections shouldn't be about issues, please consult this list. Let's rise about personality and focus on policy.


A new Liberal

I'm new here, and there's no better way to begin than with my 4 issues with a bit of "pissing" thrown in as well.

1. Crime. Liberals must address the rising crime rate head on and resist the "if only" change of subject, as in "if only the state invested more in education" or "if only the city hired all the unemployed and then paid them through some extraordinary new bond package".

2. Broad Based Ethnics Reform. I'm looking for an aggressive candidate with specific proposals to root out an entrenched corrupt political culture that's been decades in the making. If this candidate angers the trade unions, so much the better.

3. Housing Vochers and other efforts to reduce concentrated poverty. (Not just a local issue)

4. Education: It's a priority, but I think the city is boxed in. We desperately need Democrats to make urban education a national issue. Statewide efforts have come up short.

(In a national context, enviornment would go near the top of my list)

My comments aren't as informed as some of the others here. As I continue to burrow into Philadelphia politics and read this page, I'll have more specific things to say.

Tally so far...

Just because this is such a great idea, I want to count the tally:

*Crime 8 (community policing/ prosecution 3, guns 2)
*Ethics Reform 5 (Public Financing of Elections 2)
*Plan for economic growth/ business development/ job creation 5
*Increase Public Employment/ CCC 3
*Reduce Public Workforce 2
*Environment/ Zoning/ Transit 8
*Casinos/ Riverfront 3
*Housing 3
*Education 4 (Pre-K programs 2)
*Taxes 3 (less regressive wage tax 2, BPT/Property reform 1)
*1 each for: Unions, Local Business, War, Integration, Electric Prices

Based on this I want to try to start to synthesize a top four we could all agree upon:

1)Comprehensive/Multifaceted approach to crime prevention/ prosecution including: community center of responsibility; aggressive & sustained coalition building w/rest of state to get laws passed/targeting of illegal suppliers for gun control; nonviolence training; etc..

2)Jobs: Again, variety of approaches key: workforce training, corridor & building revitalization, STRATEGIC use of public payroll to grow workforce; strong engagement with business community; legal/ fiscal support for small/local operations (I will not include Taxes- since this is a deal breaker- I think we should just leave it off the table)

3) Ethics Reform: Public Financing & Contribution Limits for declared & exploratory candidates, Strong Ethics board, no favors/patronage/ nepotism/ cronyism; etc.

4) Zoning/Land Use/Environment: Guaranteed transit funding; a zoning/ building code that encourages development for business, high & low income housing, protects our environment & scale of community; get recycling right; expand/improve public/green space; standardize community representation in planning/ building/ preservation.

5) Would be education: particularly pre-K & after school programs/ recreation

1. Schools and job training:

1. Schools and job training: early bird and after school programming, smaller class sizes, more assistant teachers, cleaner facilities, less blacktop and more play equipment, ethics/leadership/civic training starting in lower school, government leadership programming, more parent/family involvement.

2. Sustainability: clean energy, long-term planning, incentives for incoming and current businesses actively addressing environmental issues, mandate universal recycling (my office building doesn't allow it!).

3. Ethics: better ethics training in the public workforce, better mechanisms for investigation and enforcement, public financing of elections, start a public discussion about the role of public and civic leaders and how their actions WILL be look upon as examples of how to act, stand up to the machine(s) and be willing to call out their evils.

4. Restructuring/update Charter: allowing more deputies per department enabling better management, pay for performance/implement incentives for good work, reexamination of civil service system and pension board system, give executive power (with advice and consent of council) to create/abolish/restructure city departments, create departments of housing and transportation, update charter to reflect modern technology/best practices.

5. CUT WAGE TAX. I have to add this. If someone stepped up and investigated how much money this city throws away (through a bloated workforce, corruption, etc.) like they did in 1947, which sparked the drafting of the current charter, I'd bet my life we'd find enough money to do a lot of the things on this list. Furthermore, a wage tax cut would draw in a significant population, which is currently hanging out in places like Wynnewood and Swarthmore.

Bottom line: we have to be willing to dig into this gnarly tangle to grasp the root causes of a lot of this City's ills. Treating the symptoms is only a short-term fix. It's clear we love this City and care about all of its citizens. I love the fact I just took an hour break from work to post this!! Keep up the good work.

The ideas already posted are

The ideas already posted are great. I think this is my first comment post and I was not going to respond at the risk of sounding redundant but since a tally is being taken, here's my two cents.

1)Affordable and accessible housing (keeping in mind that we are all on the same page with our definition of affordable and accessible)

2)New, innovative(but proven)strategies for Education reform, not just with opening new schools but strategies and funding for the schools that exist, more after school programs, or perhaps better ways to get out the word on existing programs, and more summer programs with funding, more funding for arts and music, how to link those programs to charter schools who need it(parents and students should not be penalized for trying to find solutions to their educational needs)and thinking outside of the box around simple barrier problems that keep our teens from attending after school programs such as transpotation.

3)New, innovative strategies for Crime and crime prevention. Those strategies can be proven or otherwise as far as I'm concerned. If the City decided to pull a Chris Rock and started making folks who sell bullets charge $5000.00, at this point I'd be all for it.

4)Jobs. Job training is great and needed but once you train a person where is the job that you've been training them for?

Just my two cents.

Well, Dan, thanks for putting

Well, Dan, thanks for putting on the pressure. I got my list down to 5 early in the week. I’ve been agonizing since trying to figure out what to drop. I can’t do it. Here are the 5.

1. Economic development and job creation: Community based economic development strategies that lead to a revival of commercial corridors and other policies that helps bring new high tech, medical, and professional services jobs into the city such as progressive tax reform (not tax reduction); a massive reinvention of our public transit system; and education reforms (see point 2).

2. Education: Devolve more authority to individual principles and hold them accountable for results; stop teaching to tests; expand pre-k education; more guidance counselors and social workers in schools; more library books and librarians; smaller schools; much smaller class sizes in early grades; vocational education that integrates work experience and education; and the funding we need to do all the above.

3. Sustainable land use, community development, and housing: Zoning code reform that takes into account the peculiarities of each neighborhood, enhances the role of community groups in the zoning process, and encourages sustainable development, open spaces, and the proper use of key natural resources such as the waterfront. Affordable housing and property tax policies that take advantage of gentrification to create economically and racially diverse neighborhoods. Taking Recycle Bank city wide. A new public transit system is important here as well.

4. Crime: The long term solution is found in 1 and 2 above; in the medium term we need expanded after-school programs and intensive mentoring programs for at-risk young people; immediately we need to adopt aggressive, responsible community based policing strategies and prosecution strategies.

5. Clean, fair transparent and effective government: real campaign finance limitations, public financing of campaigns, and low-cost TV ads on Comcast; an independent budget office so we do budgeting without phony numbers from the mayor; Rengineering government initiatives that allow our workers and their unions to help reshape how the city is run; City Council hearings in the evening; City Council investigations of the effectiveness of every agency in the city.

Also, I’ve recently heard of some creative ideas to provide health care for people in the city without health insurance at a reasonable expense. I’m still trying to figure out whether they make sense. If they do, that is hard to leave out.

My suggestion about the key theme for the progressive movement is, I think, We're All In This Together. Let's focus on public policies that cut across racial, economic, class, and neighborhood boundaries. I would argue that everything I suggested above will help everyone in the city.

The Really Big One

Is the one that addresses the many challenges facing our city and calls for many resources to bring to fruition.

Drum roll.....FULL EMPLOYMENT!

The foundation needed for the Big One are: continually improving schools, a much better tax environment, improved public transportation, and continuing to seek the Wow! factor of a vibrant downtown and in city neighborhoods.

The systemic problems solved by the Big One are: crime, dysfunctional families, growing social service needs, prison recidivism, neighborhood decay, suburban flight, loss of graduate students to other areas and the negative "can't do" attitude that always hamstrings the potential of Philadelphia.

The resources needed are: increasing funding levels for education from the city, state and federal govt's (change the political philosophy of both houses of both legislatures and the president and we can achieve this), the courage to significantly change the business tax environment, take public and private transportation issues seriously and do not simply surrender to the American Addiction to the automobile and to innovatively think about and promote controlled but exciting economic development projects to make this city even more fun than it is today.

My one cent

I won't repeat the excellent ideas already offered, but will add one that hasn't made the list: modern, locally controlled communications infrastructure for all Philadelphians. We need the technologies to compete in a global society, and must fight back against corporate interests that believe it's their right to control our access to news, information, arts and culture. So that means:
1) Affordable high-speed Internet access in every home and business, just as every home has water and electricty (or at least we hope they do).
2) Neutral networks to stop big cable and telephone companies from deciding which web sites we can visit, and which we can't (aka net neutrality).
3) A vibrant, diverse and independent media system that is locally owned and controlled.
4) Affordable, competitive choices for cable, high-speed Internet and telephone services for every resident.
Kudos to City Council for unanimously approving two resolutions last week in favor of public interest communications policies, including one offered by Councilman Kenney and another by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown. Contact me at for more information on efforts in Philly and elsewhere to fight for media democracy.

Alright, I'm a first-timer co

Alright, I'm a first-timer commenting here so take it easy on me:

1. Education. This involves a more cooperative, proactive city administration willing to bat for the District in Harrisburg; an iron-clad Charter School policy that limits the number of charters so that parents do have the option available, but not entirely at the sacrifice of public school classrooms; a campaign for comprehensive preschools that are affordable and legitimate; and a more energized and involved parent body that not only holds the district, city, and state accountable for their shortcomings, but does their part to make sure their kids are prepared for school (which starts at infancy) and learning.

2. Jobs. More jobs we have and the more sectors we cultivate (industry, technology, labor, medicine, legal, etc.), the better we all will be.

3. Labor Relations. As any good liberal, I believe strongly in organized labor. But how is it that as the 5th largest city in the nation with a fairly new and beautiful Convention Center, we find ourselves fighting with Fort Washington and Atlantic City for conferences and conventions? The answer is skyrocketed labor costs. Rendell managed this problem well; Street... not so much. With a better labor relations approach, we can protect our workers without making coporations or conferences so hesitant to explore the possibilities of doing business in Philly.

4. A breakdown of the Philadelphia political machine. We as a city need to be inspired again, and with the ridiculous infighting that is going on in the party, it's hard to stay loyal and hopeful. We need a JFK, a Barack Obama, a Howard Dean... anyone, but we need inspiration and I think the machine-politics that dominate the Philly Democratic Party are preventing that man/woman from emerging.

Four more issues (years?)

Economic development (i.e. promoting entrepreneurship, preparing people to work, providing job opportunities to ex-offenders)

Education (i.e. quality pre-school, early intervention to prevent absenteeism and dropouts, increase number of students enrolling in 2 and 4 year colleges, sex education geared toward reducing teen pregnancy)

Public safety (i.e. allow Philly to make its own gun laws, lobby Harrisburg for 1 gun/month, provide increased community policing, promote creative solutions for tackling witness intimidation and “stop snitching”)

Improve transparency, predictability, quality of government service (i.e. implement 311 or similar system for centralized request and tracking of city services, eliminate the need for “special favors” and council intervention to carry out routine services)

Countries with the highest...

scores in math and science like singapore and s korea have three years of pre-k but they are privately financed. This is a good idea. But I also think that music and art programs need to be brought back as well.

Workforce Reduction?

That's an interesting idea. I haven't heard that Philly's workforce is bloated. If it is, it could be time to trim the fat. Where are you hearing that we have too many people on payroll?

RecycleNOW Philadelphia

A good start. Lets keep th

A good start.

Lets keep this going- Ray has yet to give his, for example. Marc has yet to give his, etc.

And, even if you are only a sporadic commenter, or if you have never uttered a word on the site at all, lets hear it.

What are your big 4?

Awesome. Welcome.

Awesome. Welcome.

Oh you had to bring up a silly question like cost, didn't you?

Liz. Word. Cost is the issue. I am ACUTELY aware that all of my big four had a price tag. ACUTELY. And it pains me. I don't have a great answer for your question, though I do think some level of funds moving could work if we planned ahead.

The idea is to accomplish two things at once. Both workforce development and job training. Why separate job training programs from real work when there is work to be done? Lots of work to be done.

I think there is some truth to the fact that job training and workforce development has a way of attracting jobs. While I appreciate Mark Price echoing me, I'd want the CCC to go on longer than a summer and to go deeper than simple tasks like cleaning and painting.

My idea would involve long projects. In which unskilled workers took on tasks that only a skilled worker would do. Skilled workers would coach them through doing these things, on the job. obviously, projects would take much longer this way, but you would kill two birds with one stone.

So, probably SOME money could come out of the existing budget for infrastructure repair and upkeep,
but it would cost way more than that... lots and lots of planning.

For that I don't know.

Sheesh, way to spoil the goody party. Man-o-man. I thought we were playing Fantasy Politics here?

BradyDale OnLine

I like this list...

with more of the green policies that you and I mentioned above or any new ideas in that area. Especially the LEED standards.

Real education reform is tough at the local level. But pre-k and after school programs/recreation can be done so it needs to be on the list. I beleive that a public private partnership along these lines with two/three years of pre-k education would be a good idea. Also restoring the music and arts programs would be a good start too. Does anyone have any new creative approaches to after school program/recreation? What's worked in other areas?

New strategies for crime...

It might not be possible to charge 5k for bullets but what if there were a gun tax or bullet tax within the city limits. It intended purpose would make it harder for people to buy guns and convict those that had them without paying the tax. Just bouncing ideas anyone care to comment. Is this possible?

Sorry I’m a little cranky today.

Liz, at the risk of being deleted or worse still dragging this post off topic, I think it would be informative for me to explain as briefly as I can why you and I might come to different policy choices whatever the specifics of how each of us would pay for those very different choices.

As an illustration of my view of the matter, consider the Perry Preschool Study.

The study identified a group of low-income black children assessed to be at risk of failure in school and randomly assigned them into a control group that did not receive preschool and a treatment group that received high quality preschool at age 3 and 4. These two groups were then tracked through age 40. The study found that 60 percent of the kids that attended preschool earned $20,000 or more by age 40 compared to just 40 percent of the control group. While 55 percent of the control group had been arrested five or more times by age 40, this was true for just 36 percent of the kids that attended preschool. The only policy intervention here is providing pre-school education to children when they are 3 and 4. Imagine how different the outcomes would have been if they included greater investment in health care, k-12 education and post-high school training. Pre-k investments are so powerful because they create of virtuous cycle of better performance in school, a greater likelihood of high school completion, more skill acquisition and ultimately higher incomes.

The Gordian knot of violence in Philadelphia is that it is the consequence of decades of under-investment in the young, bad public policy choices at the local, state and federal level, globalization, deindustrialization, racial animus, as well as poor individual choices. The city is left with a set policy choices which are both more expensive and troubling than if the problem were dealt with correctly in the first place. In my view the most pressing symptom of this underinvestment is the fact that one in five young people age 16 to 29 living in the city of Philadelphia were not working and not enrolled in school in the 2000 census. The recent increase in murders in places like Philadelphia and Washington D.C. has raised the profile of policy solutions that include more police, curfews and yes even one gun a month. Although each policy is a sensible they don’t address the root of the problem. They are aimed at addressing a sudden boiling over in violence. The hope is that they will bring the violence back down to a simmer. I happen to think that 200 murders is just as heinous as 400. But the reality is that as the number falls, popular attention will focus elsewhere and one in five of teenagers and young adults will still have no legal source of earned income and few opportunities to accumulate skills. And worse still it is just a matter of time before the pot boils over again in another hot summer of slow income and wage growth. Paid employment of any kind is a sensible policy in a period economic stress. Is it expensive? You bet, but so is hiring more police, prison guards, and emergency room doctors.

Liz, I doubt you and I will ever agree on priorities. To illustrate let me quote your own recent post on the murder rate and unwed mothers :

Recently on a trip back from my local Greek pizza shop,..., I encountered a group of kids who live around the corner. I have seen these kids playing in front of a duplex that clearly serves as some form of subsidized housing, at times you see their mothers, other times not. The thing for sure is that in a house with probablly four different families in it, both black and white, there are no fathers.

I find the phrase “clearly serves as some form of subsidized housing” interesting. Do you mean it was run down and shabby looking? Of course I wonder, on your walk home from say your favorite Indian restaurant, when you saw the cutest but poorly behaved Poodle in front of a sparkling new condominium project that also happens to have a 10-year property tax abatement, whether your description of the scene would include the phrase “clearly subsidized”. I doubt it, because I suspect, in your mind poor people receive subsidies and rich people are rewarded for creating economic opportunity. Too illustrate further your post continued:

According to an article in the daily news, there is one startling statistic that has been overlooked by all of the debate about the current crime wave. In Philadelphia 62% of all new mothers are unwed. In the Hispanic community, its' 74%, in the black community, 80%. This is status quo….The article,…, suggests that Philadelphia focuses more effort on getting our young men who are more likely to wield a gun that walk a stroller, some fatherhood training.

At the risk of sounding conservative, I venture to ask, wouldn't a better solution be to prevent these kids (because after a while it can seem like there are no adults in any of these communities, regardless of age) from having unwanted children in the first place….But I wonder what is being done to empower women, and especially girls to take back their communities, by first taking back their bodies. This is the long term solution, not just to crime, but a whole host of issues.

Liz you view the problem of violence largely as a breakdown of personal responsibility by men as well as the subjugation of women stemming from a lack access to birth control. Not surprisingly when it comes to the kinds of policies you want, you’re a believer in enforcement (aside from the liberal touchstone of gun control). For example you wrote:

4)You are not weak on crime, and by this I mean there is nothing you won't try to get our streets safe (short of crossing the civil liberty line): Let's get those gun shops closed down, and the nussience bars, expand town watch/ provide commnity incentives to aid in prosecution, play hardball, not lip service with harrisburg, build strong relationships with suburban leaders, copy every single plan that any other city has used successfully.

Liz, to be clear I’m not questioning your liberalness. I’m just pointing out that your policy choices are not shaped by relative differences in cost or feasibility but by how you understand the problem at hand. In fact, you do want to spend money, among your priorities are creating an “office of the environment”, cutting taxes on businesses, and hiring more prosecutors and prison guards. Furthermore, spending you do not want to do now has costs that will accumulate well into the future. Sadly there is no balance sheet to tally the cost of a life of unemployment, incarceration and ill health that as a result of the choices we as a society make substitutes for a life of employment, opportunity and good health.

I agree with my Councilman!

FULL EMPLOYMENT ... broken down into four policy areas.

1. More investment in dropout prevention and college prep - including school-based management strategies, not just the "centralized, district-wide" approach - but with neighborhood involvement.

2. More investment in vocational training and a revamping of the job training bureaucracy - including better utilization of the Community College system.

3. More diversity in city contracting ... not just more minorities and women ... but more Philadelphians!

4. More access to capital and credit for small and disadvantaged businesses.


The Price is Right:

My issues:
1) Early childhood education
2) Building widespread community support around early childhood education

Only two, because while there are many other posts which suggest extremely laudable goals, as I see it, these two goals speak to an underlying necessity.

At the risk of having my post deleted for being a "history lesson," I hope that a little bit of context will be acceptable.

Way back when, after graduating high school, I was trained in an on-the-job training program as a carpenter. Subsequently, I went on to make a good living in that trade for about a decade. It was a CETA program (largely federally funded), conducted by the Negro Trade Union Leadership Council; the trainees were predominantly what would now be called "at-risk youth," (one of the goals of this particular program was to get Black youths into the mostly white trade unions) and the work itself involved some classroom training (in basic math and other related "book" skills), and the building skills training took place in the homes of poor people in Philadelphia's neighborhoods who couldn’t afford to hire private contractors and who received grants to pay for the materials we used in the remodling.

Great program, right? Well, it was for me. But on a larger scale, such OJT programs for disadvantaged youth were ultimately judged to be a failure. Long term studies were to some extent inconclusive, but the predominance of evidence indicated that these types of programs, which were relatively heavily funded at that time, were generally not effective in raising the earnings of the trainees over time. That is one of the reasons why funding for that type of program dried up (that and, well, nothing off topic, right?)

Why weren't these programs effective? I suppose that there are a multiplicity of reasons - not the least of which was the fact that most of those programs were federal programs, and suffered from obstacles that would not be present in the more localized/decentralized types of Citywide programs that many of the posters here are promoting.

But I would suggest that there might be another reason as well. Most of my fellow trainees lacked the basic educational skills that I had coming into the program; because unlike me, most of them didn't grow up in a middle-class neighborhood, with decent schools, and in a stable family with sufficient means.

And so, that's a long way of saying that I think that we really do need to start at the beginning, as Price advocates. Reducing gun violence, reducing the percentages of single-parent families, improving secondary schools, creating effective job training programs, all seem to rest on a foundation of working with young children and their parents in a systematic fashion. To some extent, it seems to me the effectiveness of many of the other programs suggested in this thread will be undermined if the "roots" of the problems are not tackled first. Expecting high-school or post high-school training programs to be highly effective seems a bit unrealistic if you haven't set the stage for them to be successful.

It ain't pretty, because it is, by definition, a long-term approach that won't bring immediate or sexy results, except in the sense that it would provide training and employment opportunities for early childhood educators, and that such an initiative could help to build community unity across racial/social/economic barriers.

But to me, through a building a firm community consensus about the necessity of attacking the root causes of many of this City's problems, the payoff would be obvious.

the challenge for me

Thanks for compiling this list like this. It is great to see all this interest in this topic. I am having trouble with the synthesizing and I am trying to figure out why. For me, I am interested in what work people are actually doing to make these changes. My friend Nick and I who started the Action Mill have a saying, "The Action is the Message" which is how we approach our work in the world and with those groups who bring us on to help them with their strategies and design. I am mentioning this because I think 2007 is not just about issues but is about transforming communities and relationships so that we can tackle issues. This transformation requires us, I believe, to reach across the boundaries and barriers that prevent us from collective action on many issues. It is very possible and is happening all the time but needs to be cultivated, shared, and supported so that issues are addressed effectively by all of us in a healthy everyday democracy. Here are the lcoal issues I am working on on a regular basis and how I see them intersect across issues:
-casinos/riverfront planning (through NABR and Casino Free Philadelphia), issue areas: community planning, zoning, crime prevention, public health, environmental sustainability, anti-poverty, 21st Century jobs, open and accountable government, leadership development, affordable and accessible housing and others
-limited equity cooperative campaign and tenants rights (through TURN, Tenants Union Representative Network): affordable and accessible housing, crime prevention, public health, community planning and control, anti-poverty, leadership development

This may seem off topic but ultimately if we are to identify issues it is not just about communicating what we are for, it is about communicating what we are truly committed to and we do that by sharing stories about what we actually work on. In doing so we can gain support and solidarity across our interests. We are effecting real and lasting changes through crossing the barriers and boundaries that often keep us from solving the toughest issues together. Thanks

My 4 with clean gov't, campaign finance reform at top of my list

The response to request for four issues has been quite amazing. Haven’t had chance to read all the posts as carefully as I would like, but when I saw there was a tally, I became motivated to weigh in.

My issues:

1)Clean government, and this of course includes campaign finance reform. At different points in the history of the city different issues have been the most urgent. At this point, restoring confidence in government, ending the pay to play culture, and ensuring that citizens (not a handful of big-money donors) choose our leaders are the top priorities. Our ability to make progress on all the other issues depends on electing leaders who are not beholden to big-money donors. Campaign finance reform is critical to all the rest.

2)Ending the violence. As many of you have pointed out, we need both a long term and short term strategy here. Building alliances with suburban legislators could eventually lead to limitation on handgun purchases, but that's not happening any time soon. Although handgun violence has made the headlines, we also have an under-reported, under-acknowledged epidemic of violence against women. Our culture of violence is so deep rooted, it’s easy to despair of ever changing it, but we can’t give up here.

3)Education. There has been much discussion of addressing the root causes of violence, which means providing high quality education and real equality of opportunity for all citizens. I realize education is state- and federal-level. But there are things we can do on a local level—-starting with ensuring that children are safe at school. Many young women (my students at CCP) have told me they are desperate to get their children into charter schools, where they believe their kids are less likely to be the victims of violent attacks.

4) Jobs. Addressing root causes of violence comes down to jobs and education. We need a regional economic development strategy which includes a regional approach to mass transit. And despite a lifetime of knee-jerk left-wing opposition to tax cuts of any size and shape whatsoever, I am now ready to entertain the idea of targeted tax cuts (small business, start-ups) as part of an over-all economic development strategy.

Philadephia NOW was part of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Tax Reform Commission. Our representative, Louise Francis, is the owner of small actuarial business and she certainly educated me on the problems facing small business owners—-gross receipts tax, onerous regulations etc. Also the majority of owners of very small businesses are women, so small business issues are women’s issues.

Like a lot of people on this list, my work experience has been entirely in the public sector and I have very few friends and acquaintances who are business owners. My thinking has changed somewhat as result of friends like Louise, and also the experiences of my husband's nephew, who came to Philadelphia with the idea of starting a small graphics design business. He liked Philly, had friends, family and a potential business partner here. He came for a visit, did the research on tax structure, and reluctantly came to the conclusion that he could not afford to start his business here. He moved to Seattle.

Okay, this is just one person, but it had an impact on my thinking. I don’t think liberals/progressives can take a stand of unalterable opposition to tax cuts of any kind. Tax cuts alone, yes, we should oppose that. But targeted tax cuts as part of an over all economic development strategy—I think we have to be open to that.

there is an echo in here

Brady, I agree with your approach. I was just thinking of a public works program that runs all the time but expands during summers and or periods of high unemployment. Then there should be a longer run program more heavily oriented towards training. In fact I would link the two, if you want a scholarship or grant for training you have to participate in the public works component for a short time. Help your community while it helps you.

Yes, You are Cranky

"to be clear I’m not questioning your liberalness. I’m just pointing out that your policy choices are not shaped by relative differences in cost or feasibility but by how you understand the problem at hand."

Next time you have a criticism- please be respectful- and loose the personal attacks- because this will be my last reponse to that kind of language. No offense Price. But pehaps you should take off the "I'm more liberal than you are glasses" and re-read what I wrote. I will attept to restate:

#1 I said nothing about pre-k programs, I support them as much as anyone else on this list, for all of the reasons you listed. I also believe that they should be funded by the national and state governments; with gaps filled in by local funding because that gets more people paying for poor children to be educated. (i.e. head start, etc.)

#2 Creating an office of the environment will pale in cost to keeping thousands of teenagers on the city payroll. And is likely to generate private sector jobs through the creation of green industry, while also looking out for public health and quality of life.

#3 There is just as much evidence that cutting business taxes creates more revenue for the city, because of new business growth, as the evidence to the contrary- so you can not write this off as a loss anymore than you can be sure it is a gain.

#4 I do not want to hire more prosecutors & prision guards. I never wrote that and I have no idea where you get this from. I want more support for the town watch in my neighborhood (a place without condos or poodles)- fyi a town watch is when neighbors voluntter to walk the streets and look out for each other- just so you don't confuse that with my calling for more cops. I want the city to sponsor community meetings with known offenders and unstable youth and parents, elders or others who have a positive and responsible stake in the neighborhood to work out some kind of a pact- that if the violence stops, the community will help these kids (again with city support) but if it doesn't, the community will will testify against them. I want wittness protection. I want more recreation programmes. I support other such things that directly give the community a voice and the tools to heal.

For your information, I feel this way because there has been several violent incidences in front of my house, on my block, two blocks away, to myself, to many friends, to strangers, to neighbors. This is more than theory to me.

BTW. Thanks but no thanks for backround on why this city is messed up. I know why. I studied social science under no less than half a dozen marxists- I am fully versed. We all know why. That is why we are here. There is no need to condescend, I understand that no one person is completely reponsible for their prosperity or poverty. There are social and individual reasons for everything.

And the last time I checked it was good to have leaders who worked hard to tackle crime while at the same time working on long term prevention. I thought we all agreed on that.

#6 Because I am involved with my neighbors, and I know who lives in what house, and what they do for a living, and with their days, I happen to know that the adults in this particular house do not work, that there are several families sharing the space, (which is not run down or uncared for) so in some way the housing must be subsidised. I was not saying this was a bad thing. I have no problem with housing subisidies. I noted it because that means that these children are poor. I was attepting to use a narrative to illustrate a larger issue. Next time I will be more plain.

Secondly, I brought up the issue of the high rates fatherless children because to me- this is a women's issue, a huge women's issue that goes unaddressed. I find it a shame that so many poor women remain condemned to that life because they are not given the resources and support to make informed decisions about children. This is not just about condoms or sex ed. It is about refocusing the discussion of the breakdown of society to crime to include an understanding of gender roles and responsibilites, as well as economics. Something that never comes up on this mostly male site. Something that I and several of my girlfriends can't help but notice.

I think you are attacking my libralness- if that even makes sense, by trying to illustrate that I don't believe in a social responsibility to the poor, that I am some kind of bergeois individualist- again I will say that you are misreading my suggestions, and attempting to discredit them by attacking my values. Let's try to be more productive than that- shall we.

Respectfully but still self-righteously yours

Liz, I was not disrespectful. I did not question your liberal credentials. I did argue and stand by the view that our priorities are different, for example you wrote:

“#1 I said nothing about pre-k programs, I support them as much as anyone else on this list,…I also believe that they should be funded by the national and state governments; with gaps filled in by local funding because that gets more people paying for poor children to be educated. (i.e. head start, etc.)”

The federal government is mortgaged to the eyeballs and its spending priorities are the military and homeland defense. Taking off my rose-colored glasses, whatever the extent of regime change in November a radical change in those spending priorities seems unlikely. At the state level a progressive income tax requires a constitutional convention and the people most interested in constitutional convention want instead a constitutional limit on spending, inflation plus population growth, a provision that would radically reduce current spending levels and preclude an expansion of education funding. So which comes first in Philadelphia a more equitable state tax structure or more pre-k? Or better still what is a higher priority business tax cuts or pre-k? My vote is for pre-k. Why? Today there are kids in Philadelphia who have the potential to either be Rhodes scholars or to harass Liz for dimes on her way to enjoy her favorite gyro. Philadelphia’s tax and spending choices now will influence which of those potentials are achieved.

Liz worte:

“#2 Creating an office of the environment will pale in cost to keeping thousands of teenagers on the city payroll. And is likely to generate private sector jobs through the creation of green industry, while also looking out for public health and quality of life.”

I think you are correct staffing an office can be pretty cheap, you know just a few chairs, a desk, two or three staffers. They can print up some pretty brochures (on recycled paper of course) on the benefits of going green. The economic growth that will flow from such activity is awe inspiring. Silly nostrums aside, going green is expensive if you are serious about both saving the environment and creating good jobs. But it probably has enormous long run payoffs just like pre-k. There are good reasons to move forward but among them is not that it will be cheap.

Liz wrote:

“#3 There is just as much evidence that cutting business taxes creates more revenue for the city, because of new business growth, as the evidence to the contrary- so you can not write this off as a loss anymore than you can be sure it is a gain.”

We will just have to agree to disagree on this one.

Liz wrote:

#4 I do not want to hire more prosecutors & prision guards. I never wrote that and I have no idea where you get this from.

You are correct. Your approach to crime is about building communities and what you describe sounds laudable and reasonable. There is good reason to believe if achieved it would reduce crime. I might just argue that the breakdown of community is built into this environment and you would have more success if working single mothers had better or more access to day care and after school programs and young unemployed men had paid employment. Absent doing what I suggest you end up needing more police, prosecutors, prison guards and ER doctors.

Liz wrote:

“Secondly, I brought up the issue of the high rates fatherless children because to me- this is a women's issue, a huge women's issue that goes unaddressed. I find it a shame that so many poor women remain condemned to that life because they are not given the resources and support to make informed decisions about children.”

Right, because a poor young woman not having had college education is blind to the fate that awaits her. She couldn’t possibly have any idea herself; I mean how could she with no frame of reference living in her own house or her neighborhood. She is like a young girl playing in fields of gold meeting her first love only to emerge the next day alone pregnant and drenched in a world of violence, poverty, and hopelessness. Now that is a narrative.

Liz wrote:

“This is not just about condoms or sex ed. It is about refocusing the discussion of the breakdown of society to crime to include an understanding of gender roles and responsibilites, as well as economics. Something that never comes up on this mostly male site. Something that I and several of my girlfriends can't help but notice.”

If you and your girlfriends don’t post, you don’t get heard. If you don’t think your gendered perspective is properly represented here perhaps it is because those who do post don’t understand it. And they never will, unless of course you post. Of course you might really mean that you don’t post more because of the way I have treated your posts. That would be both a shame and fair criticism. As Caietanus and Mdcphilly can attest I can be self-righteous.

Yes, that sounds good

I missed that it was an add-on. Yes, that all sounds quite good. Go team!

BradyDale OnLine

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