Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 14th Democratic Mayoral Debate

Mayoral Debate 4/14 (rebroadcast 4/15)

Sponsored by the Committee of 70, the League of Women Voters, and CBS3
Larry Mendte, moderator

The Next Mayor’s wrap up

These are my rough notes from a rebroadcast Sunday at noon. Apologies for any errors or misinterpretations. The entire debate can be viewed at CBS3 here. My traditional tie report is at the end of the debate notes.

The three topics to be discussed are crime, the city budget, and schools.

Kelly Green, president of the Philadelphia League of Women Voters gave an introduction and encouraged people to vote.

The candidates are listed below with links to their campaign websites. Candidates are asked a question and have 1 minute to respond. The other candidates have 30 seconds to rebut.

Bob Brady (B)
Dwight Evans (E)
Chaka Fattah (F)
Tom Knox (K)
Michael Nutter (N)

Q: Police Commissioner Johnson is stepping down when Mayor Street leaves office. Should the next commissioner be from inside or outside the department.? Do you have any names in mind?

K: No names in mind, need to get best commissioner possible, hopeful that we can find a commissioner in the Philadelphia police department, need someone who can get a head start, prefer someone from Philly but will look every place

B: people who serve Philadelphia do it well, need funding, working cars, radios, would like to chose from inside the police department, exhaust every method to keep morale up, only go outside after talking with FOP and others

F: no silver bullet. We have had a lot of commissioners. I know something about fighting crime, need after school programs, beef up homicide division, should look in Philadelphia, not just in the police department, but also state and federal agencies in Philadelphia.

N: It is important will look locally, regionally, and nationally, people should be safe. I will have a top police commissioner to serve us.

E: Crime is a public health epidemic. I indicated on 12/11 would like John Timoney. It is not just about him, though, but about jobs, etc. We need a different kind of leadership.

Q: All candidates called for more police officers. In some high crime districts officers are not on police work but on other duties.

B: I have been endorsed by the FOP and the district attorney. They know I I will give them what they need to do the job, don’t need someone with a gun and badge sitting behind a desk, need more parole officers, violent repeat offenders should be staying off the streets, give the DA what is needed to do the job.

F: It is not just a question of more, but what we deploy them to do. We have fewer officers on street compared to other cities. Need to get civilian workers in offices to do work that officers not needed to do.

N: No question we need new deployment strategies. The safest place to be during the day is outside the [did not catch name] where too many officer outside are the courts waiting to give testimony.

E: I will put 500 more police on street, modernize the police dept, provide solid leadership. If I am the mayor streets will be safer.

K: We do need more police officers on the street, need criminal justice center as opposed to police house, should have judges, truant officers and parole officers, community center attached

Q: Do you support a new trial for Mumia; the FOP has denounced this.

F: I’m not taking a position on innocence or guilt but the need for the judicial system to carry through on appeals, everyone entitled to fair day in court, he may be guilty but should be determined by fair trial. The FOP has said this issue would not let this interfere with working with me as mayor.

N: The mayor of Philadelphia has nothing to do with someone getting a new trial. Mayor can make sure people are safe. Utilizing technology to make streets safe.

E: Who is talking about Daniel Faulkner and his family? Court has made a decision. Need to talk about what needs to be done to make everyone safe. Cannot move city forward if streets not safe.

K: He was tried and found guilty, no new evidence. No new trial. Make sure things like this don’t happen again. Make sure police well equipped

B: The mayor has nothing to do with this trial. It is the court system’s job. I am the son of a police officer. When an office killed in line of duty it is a major problem.

Q: Mr. Nutter’s plan calls for declaring a crime emergency, dividing the city into law enforcement zones. Some have said parts of the plan are close to martial law

N: What about the rights of people who can’t afford to move out of high crime areas? Their civil rights are already restricted. Everyone has a civil right not to be shot. Plan to take illegal weapons away from people. In neighborhoods people want to be safe. Need vigilance and political experience, neighborhood buy in. We need the will to move it forward

E: It is not an easy thing to deal with, most essential issue, need to invest in schools and jobs, need leadership, someone to stand up and say this no longer acceptable

K: don’t deny people their civil rights, enforce curfew laws, make schools safer, hold kids accountable for behavior in schools, make sure kids can learn in safe environment

B: I was at a senior citizen’s center and people started to leave around 4 to get home before dark. People should be safe.

F: I will not wait for an election. I have been working with the Philadelphia police department, program for people to turn guns in, need to get guns out of community, set up tip line for illegal guns for reward, mobile headquarter units, need to get young people off the streets

Q: Should Philadelphia be allowed to pass its own gun control laws?

E: The climate is changing. Pennsylvania listed as having the most African-Americans killed. Other mayors are stepping up on this issue. It is unfortunate that it takes this many deaths to get people interested, not just poor in minority neighborhoods, affects everyone. Mood is different.

K: Last year I asked people to sign petition to have own gun control laws, Rendell took to the state legislature. They threw it in the trash. The legislature should listen to their conscience not the NRA.

B: We should pass that law, too many guns on the street. In Congress I supported all gun control laws, stop straw purchases, join with colleagues to lobby Harrisburg.

F: We shouldn’t wait on that. A safer approach is for Philadelphia to do everything they can do themselves, have DA find out where people get guns, need faith based community, get churches involved.

N: I prepared to lobby the state general assembly, but cannot wait till they act. We need to implement my plan now. There were 296 black men killed in Philadelphia last year, if the KKK came in and killed 296 black men, then we would seen more action.

Q: In 2012, 27% of city budget will go to pension and health benefits for city workers. Should city unions pay more for pension and health?

B: The mayor must be fair with unions. I am talking to unions now, talking to firefighters to win back backpay, etc. 1 of 7 firefighters has asthma, working with unions now, need to get fair contracts. They are protecting our families.

F: his fiscal plan deals [missed this] need to be fair, cut wage tax, replace business tax with net profit tax, need to work with unions for fair contracts

N: challenging issue, be collaborative, with work with unions, fair to unions and taxpayers, cost savings that city needs to pursue and biz opportunities

E: don’t do it on backs of workers, in 1991 workers gave give backs; we need those workers. I have been endorsed by transportation workers, and 2 other unions

K: not balance budget on backs of workers, get rid of pay to play politics, no bid contracts, no show jobs, patronage, nepotism, don’t cut benefits and pensions

Q: leasing airport

F: Everyone running said they willing to explore leasing the airport. We should lease it and use money to focus on city’s actual problem, poverty, education, worst educational attainment levels of major cities. Way to grow city’s wealth is to give opportunity to people who grow up in shadow of city

N: can examine, but a long term process, not made any plans for revenues from leasing airport, not building foundation of his economic revitalization on airport leasing, but first make sure it works better

E: a voodoo econ ideas, need to make investments, earned investment in young people,

K: I don’t believe we can lease airport. The federal government said only 5 airports can be leased, must get permission of all the airlines, stick to getting rid of pay to play, no bid, etc.

B: Part of the airport is in Delaware County. I’m not sure Philadelphia can lease the airport. People live outside side because of city wage tax. We need more votech education to make sure people have the skills we need.

Q: Will you increase property tax revenues with the money going to schools

N: property reassessment in Philadelphia is broken. I have a child in city schools. Property owners deserve a fair system that reflects the fair value of property, should be revenue neutral, increases responsible and [missed this], fix system, not drive people out of homes

E: put a plan in place that makes sure we freeze what takes place with senior citizens first, overall tax reform package, Rendell moving in the right direction

K: property taxes are going to go up with new mayor, revenue neutral, reassessment, value going up when people not expecting it, protect elderly

B: Not for 100% property value assessment. Asks all candidates to ask that no new school CEO is selected until after the primary election

F: property owners should not be concerned, not looking for new revenues. Issue not being discussed is poverty in city, city can’t reach potential with 1 in 4 in deficit position

Q: casino gambling. Will you support the will of people is there is an anti-casino question on the ballot?

E: reason for casinos is to reduce wax tax, put more police on the street, reality we have to work with state not against it, understand anti-casino concerns, nobody generally likes gambling, reality is people going to Jersey to gamble, gambling here will bring money to city

K: wouldn’t want casino in his neighborhood, put casinos away from churches, schools, etc., put them near naval yard if they want to be near water

B: Concerning New Jersey, my prayers and thoughts with Corzine. People should not have anything near their neighborhood they didn’t want, no one talked with neighbors

F: state has schizophrenic relationship with city, taking over parking, schools, put in casinos with no zoning control, our relationship with state we need to talk and agree

N: terrible decisions to force location with no city involvement, use zoning code to restrict growth and development, matter of local control, I am only person who has lowered taxes

Q: For Tom Knox, there is concern about your to your campaing. For others, how will you deal with pay to play, etc

K: good question, when put $5 million in, understood that if I got out would lose money. Would not want my family to lose money. Now loan has been forgiven, can’t get it back, the money has been spent

B: I don’t have any millions to loan. There is a reason why in 30 years of politics my name not mentioned in pay to play. I am a man of character, people around me have character

F: I am less concerned with Tom’smillions, than with the hundreds of millions he says he will slash in budget will affect city. Knox spent his life turning around companies, I spent my life turning around lives

N: As the true reformer in race, I am the only person who has changed any ethics law in Philadelphia, literally re-written city’s ethics code, my record, 15 years in office, zero tolerance for corruption

E: I said in 1999 that something needed to be done. It is unfortunate that we need a crisis to change behavior, has always been about change

Q: Vallas stepped down as CEO of Philadelphia schools. Should the new mayor have some say in who the new CEO will be?

F: I intend to work with Gov. Rendell and school reform commission, not a process that will happen overnight, will have interim person, tremendous progress made but a long way to go. Talking about launching most successful school reform in nation

N: we should not put in permanent person right now, meet with mayoral candidates to have input, criteria, ensure open process for parents taxpayers to have a say

E: called for a blue panel task force, broader than school reform commission, compliment Paul Vallas on how far he has moved the schools, long term schools, what do we want the school district to look like 5 years form now

K: should wait, ask Gov. Rendell to wait until primary, bring Democratic and Republican candidate into talks, has hired people at high levels

B: ask governor and school reform commission to wait, on next mayor’s watch, we need a great character, a great cheerleader

Q: Should there be armed police officers in schools?

N: every public school should have a public safety plan, must coordinate resources, in some schools Philadelphia police officers to make the school safe

E: In 1971 there was an officer in my school, Officer Foster. Put officers in schools if requested, work in interest of children and parents

K: every school deserves public safety plan, some schools need police officer, every kid deserves an opportunity to learn, no kid a throwaway

B: if school asks for it, can’t put officer in every school. My mother was a non-teaching assistant. We need non-teaching assistants to patrol halls, cafeteria, etc. teachers need to teach, students need to learn

F: young people will be #1 priority. In my school Officer Reese was there, all the kids knew him. All high school and middle schools will have an officer.

Q: state take over schools?

K: philly should have control

F: work with Gov. Rendell to keep state city partnership together, distraction to try to unravel it

E: support what Gov. Rendell said, if it s not broker don’t fix it

B: need money from state

N: want responsibility and accountability to be local, mayor responsible and accountable. I am the parent of public school student

Closing statements

K: grew up in public housing and poor, know what it feels like to be written off, through hard work and help of city got successful greater than wildest dreams, need to give city new police officers, running to take big boss politics out of city, not forgotten his upbringing, running for mother and brother and every family lost a child to drugs

B: Knox talks about machine politics, stop beating on Nutter, Fattah, they have done good things, want a parent to walk child to school in safety, school look like a school not a prison, walk home to a safe house, get a good job, work every single day to make that dream come true

F: philly a glass more full than empty, in center city shining, low crime rate, condos soaring, too many neighborhoods crime soaring. Want to invest in Philadelphians, get illegal guns off streets, enhance early learning opportunities, quality after school programs, out of harms way, his family opened their own doors to kids and changed lives, put these values in action

N: on 5/14 use power to vote to change city, can bring reforms, schools, when corruptions scandal broke out closed loopholes, put 100 new officers on streets of philly, a leader , independent representation

E: cites case of Faheem Thomas being shot on way to school, will work every waking moment to make the city safe, will work block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, bring skill set from Harrisburg, bring people together

Tie count: Knox wearing light blue (every time I have seen him on tv he has worn a light blue tie). Brady, re tie. Fattah, red tie. Nutter red tie. Evans, dark tie (did not catch color).


Anonymous said...

Well, Nutter seems to think he's running against John Street instead of for an open mayoral seat. I gotta say I find his TV ads beating this drum quite annoying and irrelevent.

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