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Letters to the Editor

Imagine this councilmember

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It’s an election year. Can you imagine a City Council district represented by someone whose concerns matched those of residents?

Pop-up tractor-trailer parking lots would not appear in residential areas sold to developers through the councilmember’s friends. Unfinished developments owned by absentee rich men wouldn’t remain open construction sites for seven or eight years running, while neighbors make futile calls to Licenses & Inspections. A human being would answer the councilmember’s office phone.

Neighbors would not wait endlessly for their councilmember’s help getting L & I to enforce rules such as those limiting single-family dwellings to single families. They wouldn’t have to worry that the rules in question weren’t ones that mattered to the councilmember’s wine buddies. Local residents could feel confident that the councilmember worked for them, rather than for a few wealthy local friends or for out-of-town developers.

Councilmanic privilege would never be abused to hurt local residents, or to withhold legislation needed by communities because such laws might affect the councilmember’s friends’ financial interests. The councilmember would never lie to constituents about the extent of this power. There would be no reason to lie; the power would be used always and solely to benefit the people of the councilmember’s district.

The councilmember would not pull strings within city agencies to block enforcement of laws against cronies whose abusive business practices hurt neighborhood residents. Local residents could count on the councilmember’s honesty and fair dealing in all situations, no matter what business, developer or law firm might be involved.

Civic organizations would not have to pursue zoning appeals or file suit to protect their communities and livelihoods from property developers proposing harmful uses of land. The councilmember would do that for constituents using City resources, rather than supporting the developers instead.

The councilmember would oppose City intervention in lawsuits on the side of developers against civic organizations. No one need worry that the councilmember might collaborate with a developer to keep secrets from the community, or to support Planning Commission staff proposals to open neighborhoods to high-density multifamily development against community members’ wishes. Nor would the councilmember ever promise changes in zoning laws to protect the community and then fail to act.

The councilmember would seek to transform publicly owned green spaces found alongside residential developments into preserved open spaces, and would certainly not suggest that such spaces be developed as massive ecommerce warehouses with all-night operations. When a neighborhood resident or civic organization contacted the councilmember about code violations and quality-of-life issues, the councilmember’s office would respond to the communication and take action.

The councilmember would never develop a reputation for talking over, shouting at or bullying constituents at public meetings or elsewhere, or call neighbors to a private meeting to pressure them to accept an undesirable development promoted by the councilmember’s friends in their backyards. Nor would the councilmember or councilmember’s staff plan presentations at community meetings with developers in a manner calculated to help developers gain leverage over or mislead neighbors.

Both the councilmember and staff would attend community meetings and communicate regularly with constituents, rather than only before an election, or when a developer asks them to.  Neither the councilmember nor staff members would leave meetings complaining of abuse in response to being asked a question.

Civility, honesty, transparency, moral character, empathy with and respect for district residents and willingness to identify with and to represent their interests against any others: the councilmember would always exhibit those qualities, and never their opposites.

Does this imaginary councilmember sound like your councilmember? I think everyone deserves a real councilmember like the one imagined here.

Chris Bordelon

Somerton

No speed cameras in school zones

In Rep. Neilson’s news release about speed cameras in school zones, his statement, “Every day, we see people speeding through school zones … ” is purely anecdotal with no basis in fact. The fact is, there are so few accidents in school zones that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not even keep statistics on them. School zones are inherently safe with no need for enforcement-for-profit speed cameras. Add to that, speed cameras cannot and will not stop accidents. Speed cameras can only take pictures.

Rep. Neilson also mentions Chicago’s speed cameras. Chicago’s speed camera program has been riddled with corruption from its inception, certainly no program to emulate.

In spite of what the special interest camera promoters say, speed camera enforcement is for the express purpose to keep a stream of safe drivers’ cash flowing into government. Urban legend, emotion and intention seem to have become the principal determinants of government policy, rather than years of data produced by engineers and organizations who have no financial interest in the conclusions.

Speed cameras do not belong anywhere, let alone in school zones. Thank you.

Tom McCarey

Member

National Motorists Association

Exclude nukes from city pension funds

To those of you who are city workers, now is the time to demand the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection walk the walk by excluding nukes from the City’s pension funds. Ask yourself if you approve of your hard-earned money helping wealthy weapons manufacturers make nuclear weapons and wealthy asset managers sell the stocks of those manufacturers to public workers’ pension funds.

Last month was the 2nd anniversary of the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entering into force, making nuclear weapons illegal. Philadelphia has already lent its support for the TPNW through City Council Resolution #190841 urging the U.S. to enter into the treaty. Divestment is doable.This past November, Spokane, WA passed a resolution to divest from nuclear weapons, joining dozens of cities, countries and financial institutions worldwide that have divested. Philadelphia’s Pension Board has already divested from guns (2013), private prisons (2017) and Russia (2022), illustrating that divestment is feasible.

Plus, divestment isn’t financially risky. Research indicates that Environmental Social Governance funds pose little financial risk, which have been proven to outperform traditional equity funds. In fact, City Council has already passed Resolution #210010 instructing the Pension Board to adopt ESG criteria.

President Biden’s grim warning of nuclear “Armageddon” and New York City’s nuclear attack PSA are stark reminders of the nuclear stakes in the ongoing Ukraine war. It’s time to phase out an industry that puts all of humanity at risk and cut Philly’s ties to nuclear weapons.

Gayle Morrow

Society Hill

Divest Philly from the War Machine

https://www.divestfromwarmachine.org/divest_philly

Hell no to more school spending

The school board is asking for a significant amount of new money over the next 5 years.

They are always asking for more money and more money.

What have they done with the past monies?

The new superintendent has raised the administrators’ salaries to get them to like him and be yes men.

He also gave an expensive contract to one union that will now set the precedent for all the city’s unions.

Did they air condition all the buildings yet?

Did the test scores go up yet?

Are the schools safe for the students for asbestos or guns yet?

Are they acting in a fair and non-racist manner for all students?

The answers are all no.

No should be the answer from our politicians.

Maybe even a hell no

Mayer Krain

Modena Park

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