by Joe Shaheeli
In an inauguration address marking the beginning of his third term, City Controller Alan Butkovitz put out the kind of ideas one would expect from a potential mayoral candidate … getting our local educational institutions to spend some of their budgets with city businesses.
He told the crowd attending the inauguration of a new term for 22 judges, the District Attorney and himself on Monday at the Academy of Music he’s eyeing the purchasing power of the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, numerous health systems, SEPTA and the School District of Philadelphia.
“Our anchor institutions all have major physical plants and identities that are tied to our city and region,” said Butkovitz. “We need to connect our historical strength in making things to those large entities that purchase things.”
He estimated Philadelphia’s higher-education and health-care institutions are exporting over $2 billion a year to buy the goods and services they need to operate.
“If we can persuade the anchors to shift just 25% of these purchases to Philadelphia vendors, we would create more than 5,000 new jobs,” said Butkovitz. “These new job-holders would produce wage-tax revenues and more importantly they would spend money locally and create even more local jobs.”
According to Butkovitz, Philadelphia’s policy discussions have been too narrowly focused and not enough attention has been paid to innovative strategies for creating jobs in the City, although he noted, careful not to step on their toes, the efforts of Council President Darrell Clarke’s Jobs Commission and Councilman Bobby Henon’s Manufacturing Task Force, noting “they have taken large steps in the right direction.”
“The debate has been centered on tax policy changes as if they are a panacea for direction,” Butkovitz said. “Philadelphia’s unorthodox blend of taxes is a least partially responsible for the City’s anemic growth, but initiatives like these will really change the conversation.”
His office will be the one to watch for more innovative ideas as well as calls for investigations into some of the city’s offices.
District Attorney Seth Williams was introduced by State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D-W. Phila.), no relative, but definitely a candidate for Mayor. One can consider Seth has given the Senator his endorsement.
The District Attorney, in his speech, concentrated on his office, its gains, and the reduction of the city’s homicide rate to the lowest level in 47 years, with the promise of working to keep it going downward. He made it clear his goal is to make Philadelphia a truly safe city. Such an achievement would open the doors for an easy win to the State Attorney General’s seat.
As we see it, the mayor’s race seems to hold a great deal of local political interest even though it is the gubernatorial election primary on the immediate calendar, May 20.
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) and Dr. Val Arkoosh will face off at a forum in the Upper Dublin Township Building, 801 Loch Alsh Avenue, Fort Washington, Pa. on Sunday, Jan. 26 from 1:30 p.m. The hour-and-a-half event is limited to registered Democrats. For info reach out to Bev Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Dawkins has announced his candidacy for the 179th Dist. seat of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Jason is seeking the Democratic nomination for State Representative of the District encompassing the Frankford, Feltonville, Olney, Oxford Circle, Mayfair and Wissinoming neighborhoods.
Throughout his tenure as senior legislative aide for Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Jason led the redevelopment of nine recreational facilities to previously underserved neighborhoods, totaling more than $4 million in capital funding.
The campaign will host an Announcement Rally on Saturday, Jan. 18, 12-2 p.m., at the Frankford Boys & Girls Club, 1709 Kinsey Street.
Rep. James Clay has already begun to work on his own campaign, saying, “I am very confident because of my strong efforts serving my constituents.”
Joe DeFelice, Executive Director of the Republican City Committee, says his party is recruiting to create an “‘A-Team’ to begin turning the city around with smart, fiscally prudent vision. In the coming year, there are currently roughly 30 offices on the ballot for US Congress, State Senate and State Representative in Philadelphia along with over 3,000 committeeperson slots. These individuals with be the coordinated grassroots arm of the Republican Party who can best articulate a message of change and reform for the GOP in the city rather than allowing the national media and local Democrats to frame our Party.
“If someone is interested in joining our movement, and becoming the A-Team that Philadelphia so desperately needs, please contact Republican City Committee and ask how one can make a difference on their own block, in their own neighborhood to help Philadelphia realize its full potential. We can be reached at (215) 561-0650, via email at email@example.com or visit us on Facebook at Facebook.com/PhillyGOP.”
The May 2014 primary is a crucial event for RCC’s long-term reorganizing efforts. The long intraparty struggle left its ward-level committee authority confused, so it is looking for the spring election to clarify matters. At least three fights for ward control are expected in the Northeast. In South Philadelphia, look for the Republicans to split the 36th Ward into two separate committees, following the pattern set by successful Democrats in several wards long ago.
A nonpartisan seminar is being offered for anyone interested in running for committeeperson in any of the parties listed by the Commonwealth and which appear on the ballot this coming primary.
Speakers at the “How To Run For Committeeperson” in this primary are City Commissioner Stephanie Singer and her Deputy Tracey Gordon. The event will be held at 1606 Walnut Street Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Another session is scheduled on Feb. 18 at same place and time.
Men are invited even though the event is sponsored by the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.
This is an opportunity for individuals interested in entering politics at ground zero.
The first day to circulate nominating petitions for any office open in the primary is Feb. 18.
News makes for a lot of conjecture after Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach’s announcement he will not seek reelection to his far-suburban 6th Dist. seat. It’s obvious Gerlach had a lock on the seat. Dems found it easy to split for him, giving him safe margins. The seat still leans to Republicans.
Fortunately for Gov. Tom Corbett, Gerlach doesn’t see himself entering the Republican primary for that seat. Who knows? Only Jim knows and he’s not saying if he has any plans for a political future.
State Rep. Michelle Brownlee will host Breakfast with Brownlee from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. tomorrow at her 2839 W. Girard Ave. constituent services office.District residents are invited to a complimentary continental breakfast, during which Brownlee will discuss legislative priorities for 2014 and answer questions about state programs and services. There is no need to RSVP.