In response to the Covid-19 crisis, state and local governments laser focused their efforts on chasing down businesses and residents trying to survive rather than offering a path forward to the various and complex socio-economic problems caused by the pandemic. Too many of our local leaders supplanted health policy with punishment and long-term economic constriction. Too few took adequate steps to help communities find innovative ways to safely salvage their livelihoods. As a result, all eyes gravitate to Washington, D.C. for ongoing bailouts as our political leaders become desperate to offset the cost of a profound lack of commonsense. 

We at Broad + Liberty love a good debate and established our platform as one for voices that are too often shut out. To that end, we are offering fresh ideas for local governance in the era of Covid-19: productive solutions that will limit the damage to our society and our economy, while operating within the confines of government’s goal to stop the spread of the virus. Local government must provide the basics, or step aside.

Let’s be honest. Over the course of Mayor Kenney’s tenure in office, Philadelphia’s municipal government consistently fails to provide even the most basic services. Mayor Kenney and his team combine the blatant dereliction of duty with chiding platitudes, directing citizens to lower their expectations. Philadelphia continues to collect among the highest level of municipal taxes in the country while the trash remains uncollected, murders and other violent crimes soar, and a beleaguered, already under-performing school district pushed children into “e-learning” that is unlikely to provide much of an education for too many vulnerable youth. How long does Mayor Kenney expect citizens to passively watch their crime-ridden, trash-filled neighborhoods and politically-motivated homeless encampments go from bad to worse?

A simple stroll through Philadelphia’s core provides a devastating indictment of government by the inadequate. Jim Kenney needs to get his priorities straight. The mayor must effectively manage municipal government, not pick fights with the White House. Philadelphians elect mayors to perform the essential functions of urban government efficiently and effectively. Collecting trash, reducing crime, and providing for a suitable public education must be treated as urgent priorities, with no margin allowed for ineffectiveness.

As we pass high summer and approach a new academic year with a pandemic in the background, we wonder: where is the leadership and creativity from Philadelphia’s business and civic leaders? Where are the public-private partnerships that once served to make our city America’s next destination for hi-tech jobs, or millennial entrepreneurs, or Vision Zero enthusiasts? How did we allow our moribund political establishment to suck all of the energy and promise from a city that was just hitting its stride after decades of government managed deterioration?

Our political leadership stubbornly and criminally mismanages the Covid-19 crisis, handicapping recovery by failing to foster a sustained effort of iteration and innovation. A change in action to promote a healthier socio-economic recovery requires intelligent action by the city’s leadership as a whole — and attention and effort from the public.

To that end, we at Broad + Liberty intend to do our part. We appreciate that the severity of the challenges before us requires a sustained and substantive response. So, in the coming weeks, we intend to expand upon these matters and outline detailed, solutions-oriented policy proposals.

Our goal is raising the collective expectation of local government. We demand our municipal leaders get control of public safety, collaborate with the business community, prioritize families, and utilize this defining moment in our history to recommit to effectually providing critical core services. It is up to us to deliver the ideas to make our city better — and up to voters to demand more. 

Engaging these issues in the public square will shine much needed light on these persistent problems. Improved debate will bring more voices and ideas, and hopefully improve outcomes. We ask you to join us before our City becomes unrecognizable.

Broad + Liberty is a non-profit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are too often shut out of our media. Ideas matter, and as a 501 c(3) nonprofit we rely on the generosity of donors like you to support our work. Please support us here.

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