Monday, February 26, 2007

Philly Mayoral Forum at Central High in PCN

I think this forum was held earlier today and then rebroadcast on PCN tonight. There was one section of the debate that I could not keep up with. As for the rest, as usual my notes are rough and I apologize for any errors or misconceptions. There are a number of forums planned and I encourage everyone to try to attend or watch at least one (hopefully more)to get some sense of the candidates. Dwight Evans was unable to attend this event.

Philadelphia Mayoral Forum / Central High School
Monday 2/26

Candidates Attending:
Bob Brady
Chaka Fattah (note: this site comes with audio, you may want to turn the volume down or off if you are looking at this at work and don't have a private office)
Tom Knox
Michael Nutter
Al Taubenberger (no website at present)

Opening Statements

CF: Two of his children graduates of Central, one now an attorney, the other at Drexel.

TK: Thank you. No kids at school. Mayor cut budget for community college. CC last resort for those most in need. State does not put all its money in. Need to be able to fully fund cc and endowment fund. Kids most in need. If we can raise $68 million to buy one painting should be able to raise this.

MN: Pleasure to be here. Daughter only in 6th grade. Making Central a coed school a good decision.

AT: President of NE Philly Chamber of Commerce. Daughter at Central School. AT went to Northeast High. All my sports career I tried to beat you but now that my daughter is here you have no bigger supporter. Without support of servicemen and women people this forum would not exist.

Part I: Question to one candidate, others can respond

Q: Fattah, recent incident on I 78 and Katrina. What would you do to avoid breakdown in communication in govt.

CF: Anyone leading a major city must be prepared for emergencies. Street administration has a 2M initiative to review disaster preparedness. Make sure we can communicate with govt and people. Health care system that can handle mass casualty events. Not there yet. Working on some things. His campaign features more Central grads than any other campaigns.

TK: Reading the reports put out by the city and newscasts. Philly not prepared. We do plow the streets and that can be an emergency. Mayor’s first priority to keep streets safe. Then clean.

MN: Significant work done by Street. Report issued some time ago. Second report overdue. Later on MN today releasing emergency preparedness plan. Joint command center, ability to communicate underground.

AT: All departments need to talk with each other. Mayor Frank Rizzo at the scene himself. So was Guliani.

Q: Knox, with over 400 murders last year, on track to have more this year. What steps other than adding officers to the force?

TK: Crime, short and long term solutions. Long term all revolve around education. Get people to lay down their guns and pick up books. Get police force in the 21s century (technology). Have a deputy mayor for public safety. Lobby for tougher gun laws.

MN: targeted enforcement zones, take illegal weapons away from people, additional social services support, repeat offenders violate probation out of communities, focus on re-entry. Hard to get a job if have a criminal record.

AT: Education always a cornerstone in stopping crime. Educated populace something we all desire. Enforcing the gun laws on the book. Increase amount of police, minimum of 600. Bill in state house for new police officers. Increase and empower parole officers. Stop those on parole and see if they have weapons on them. Jobs very important.

CF: We have instituted programs, got 497 guns off the street, anonymous tip line if report someone with an illegal gun. We need to all work together. We should not politicize violence.

Q: Nutter, perception that neighborhood schools failing students, outside agency schools not doing so well. Make schools safer, regain local control?

MN: Mayor must make sure all citizens safe, but especially school students. Building safety. Philly city police and school district police coordinate. School governance, strong supporter of SRC, ultimately Mayor accountable, let mayor appoint all members of school board. Local control should return. Partnership with gov and city. Funding formula changed.

AT: Teachers are not policeman. Safety must be absolute in a school. Parents must be able to send children to safe school. Local control must be back in Philly.

[Bob Brady arrives.]

BB: Apologize for being late. Security guards wouldn’t let him in. Take back local control. School not a prison. Increase funding for school. [his phone goes off, apologizes]

CF: Believe and big supporter of Paul Vallas and SRC. Edison schools should never have been allowed in and should be ushered out as soon as possible. Will not push for local controls. Governance almost a distraction. Change ratio on board, betw/ govt appointees and mayoral appointees.

TK: Local control is important. Early start and career training important. Cuts down on truancy. Improves attendance in college. Make sure state continues its funding and maintain bond rating.

Q: Taubenberger, why would your promises of honesty be better than pay to play predecessors.

AT: Any admin full of people, but mayor reponsible for their character. Before hiring get to know people and their character.

BB: It’s about your character and the people you employ. I’ve never been mentioned on any indictment. I don’t know some of these people. You have to have character, make sure people you hire represent you and have good character.

CF: Our website has ethics and openness program for govt. Open up budget process. Accountability system. A few bad characters does not imply that everyone in govt is dishonest. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

TK: Mayor should hire best people possible and take responsibility for their actions. Sick of pay to play, etc. Tired of patronage and nepotism.

MN: Try to hire the best people. On issue of credibility I am the person who literally wrote the law. Put in place new transparency. I have put things in place. I can tell you what I have already done.

Part II, questions from the audience for just one candidate

Q: Fattah, congestion charge, what other environmental policy

CF: Need to be concerned about the environment. President put forth idea of studying congestion. Transportation policy on web site. Make city bicycle friendly. Hybrid vehicles. Enhance Philly Car Share. Put shelters at every single bus stop. Solar heating at those shelters. More people out of their cars and into mass transit. Privatize turnpike.

Q: Knox, Your wife is strongly dedicated to the arts. Worried about losing arts and sports in schools.

TK: I am committed to the arts and fully funding the arts in Philadelphia. Past chairman of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Need a director of arts in Philly. Bring Barnes Museum to Philly.

Q: Brady, what bill are you most proud of and why?

BB: Co-sponsored a lot of bills, now as majority can sponsor our own bills. We do bring home a lot of funding. Brought back 3.2 (m? B?) A lot of funding for schools and universities. Most important is proton beam (knife?) for prostate cancer. [He pronounced it prostrate.] gamma knife, picking up more funding to look into use for women with breast cancer.

Q: Nutter, What plans do you have to reduce wage taxes?

MN: Helped lead 2002 march against wage tax. In 2004 got a bill passed in city council for a 10 year reduction in wage tax. There will be additional cuts in wage tax due to gaming. Proposed business tax cuts. Tax situation in Philly chokes off jobs, must be changed to grow economy. Can find info on my website.

Q: Taubenberger, plans for development of Delaware WaterFront?

AT: supports open access for all citizens. Riverfront produced a lot of jobs for many years. Mixed use with industry and residential. Has to be encouraged and worked on. Must work closely with the state. Currently freeze on that right now. Must provide jobs and places to live. Lucky to have Del River.

Part III, lightning round, limit answer to one word or sentence [Blogger’s note: This was just too quick for me to keep up with so I have no transcript from this section. Many apologies.]

Closing Statements

BB: Walk child to school in safety, to a safe school, have an affordable house and a job that can support job. First one to sign on Committee of 70 ethics program

CF: Work every day to make sure every student in our city can go to a school as good as Central. Create an endowment so Philly kids will be able to go to college. Philly has lowest % of college educated populace in large cities. Create real opportunities. If we all work at it we can make Philly a better city.

TK: Mayor’s first responsibility is to public safety. Rid city of pay to play politics. Fully fund community college. Trained and educated work force. Affordable housing. Environmental protection in order. Emergency services in order. Transportation rates looked at.

MN: Thanks Central and PCN. Your futures are critically important. Worked in city govt for 15 years. Has the experience and the independence.

AT: Thanks Central. This is one of the premier schools in the country; you have a duty to get involved. Clean and safe city. Plentiful jobs. Good schools.

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