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 many vulnerable youth. 

How long does Mayor Kenney expect citizens to passively watch their crime-ridden, trash-filled neighborhoods (including 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 efficiently and effectively perform the essential functions of urban government. Collecting trash, reducing crime and providing for a suitable public education must be treated as urgent priorities, with no margin allowed for ineffectiveness.

The Wolf administration announced that about 5,000 Pennsylvania businesses were ‘awarded’ $96 million out of $200 million in small business grants. But what they played down was the fact that 50,000 businesses had sent in applications in two weeks, amounting to requests for over $800 million. 

At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, the administrations of Governor Tom Wolf and Mayor Kenney arbitrarily categorized businesses as either “life sustaining” or “non-life sustaining,” immediately spurring accusations of favoritism and inconsistent rules. The businesses deemed non-essential immediately closed pursuant to government orders, causing the most dramatic economic crash the Commonwealth has experienced in living memory. By April 14, 2020,  a few weeks after the tailspin of shutdowns began, nearly 40% of small businesses had closed, according to data published by Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights. Since then, businesses have struggled to adjust and find a path to reopen, amid capricious, random and non-democratic executive orders and edicts. 

This week, the Wolf administration announced that about 5,000 Pennsylvania businesses were “awarded” $96 million out of $200 million in small business grants. But what they played down was the fact that 50,000 businesses had sent in applications in two weeks, amounting to requests for over $800 million. 

Pennsylvania’s small businesses will take aid where they can get it. The fact that so many have been forced into the desperate position of needing $25,000 grants to survive speaks volumes about the pain being felt in our communities. 

Government simply does not have the ideas or the capacity to replace the revenue lost due to the economic calamity it escalated. The innovation to put us back on the right track will come from the brilliance of our entrepreneurs, workers, and communities — if only government would get out of the way. 


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One thought on “The Editors: Government should provide the basics, or step aside”

  1. Thank you for your non partisan reporting and for presenting the facts without bias.
    As an independent contractor, my business was almost non existant. I could not meet with clients or do any parties. as an independent beauty consultant this killed my busines. I am still waiting for my Pua unemployment checks. I am a caregiver for my mother who is recovering from coronavirus infection in May so I am not able to work.
    Im not sure how they determined what was “essential”, but it seems that the same big businesses that people are criticizing are the ones that remained opened while the mom and pop shops and independent contractors were left in the dust and told to “pivot or close”.

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