May I offer a few ideas for our Mayor-Elect, Cherelle Parker?
First and foremost, send your department leaders to London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris to learn their solutions to our urban dilemmas, and to save us trying to reinvent the same wheels, which have already been invented in cities abroad.
1. London has “Tap and Go” on your credit card, which SEPTA has tried to reinvent for great expense. Even now we have the inconvenience of traveling to 1234 Market for an appointment to get a SEPTA card. We can buy anything on-line! Why not make it easy for SEPTA’s customers? Why not “Tap and Go?”
Buy a plane ticket to London to see how they did it!
2. Go to Amsterdam to learn about smart traffic lights, proper street lights, roundabouts, bike lanes, safe pedestrian crossings, curb designs, and road safety rather than going around in circles here, still fearing the safest intersections, roundabouts. Intersections cost $8,000 a year in repairs, electricity, bulb changes, and waiting for the stupid thing to change at 2 AM! Arrgh! Roundabouts: no cost, no waiting, save gas, and they are much safer! Everyone knows that! Please study the Youtube series, “Not Just Bikes,” to see how the Dutch have solved these things, while our friendly home team struggles. Buy a plane ticket to save us tax money!
3. The Parking Authority should have flown to Europe! Remember the saga of going from one meter on one post to cobra meters every other post and then having to buy larger cobra meters with larger coin boxes for more quarters when they changed the parking rates? Then they came up with the inconvenient PPA card, eventually to the credit card, to the impossible-to-use first kiosks, after yanking out all the cobra headed meters on one post with the bigger coin box, to today’s kiosk, which Europeans had years ago? Buy a plane ticket, please.
4. Cleaning the streets. Gadzooks! Recall the tale of woe of not telling the neighbors that hordes of leaf blowing aliens were coming to create intergalactic havoc, deafening noise, and blow the dirt through everyone’s front window; then the sweeper truck could not fit down the street!
Buy a ticket to Paris to see their water trucks with overhead hoses that spray the dirt into the streets. Cars do not have to be moved. Save millions simply learning how to clean our streets the way the French do. Buy a plane ticket!
5. Police. Best Commish ever was John Timoney. Anyone of lesser skills and innovation will disappoint. Please return to the rigorous police tests to attract smarter applicants, too. Recruits who have taken the much easier tests may not be ones we want on the streets with the authority to shoot. Please consider returning to the nightstick, too, for non-lethal situations. Ever been hit in the shins by a hickory stick?
6. Public Schools: Commit, with all your heart and soul, every fiber, to graduate 100 percent of our students come hell or high water. No ifs, ands or buts. Brook no opposition from anyone! We pay more than enough for this mission with $4.6 billion in school taxes. Anything less than the 100 percent mission is an abuse of thousands of our own students for not preparing them for their next great step up in life.
Well-prepared graduates will defeat the abuse of our young citizens being unemployable, illiterate, knowing nothing, joining gangs, drugs, having illegitimate children, having no moral code so that “Smash and Grabs,” carjacking, shooting, and killing are accepted. May our mayor-elect commit to an unbending, never swerving, passionate and personal mission to graduate 100 percent of our students.
7. “The Right to Compete” policy states that any job or contract supported by taxes, must be bid between non-union and union suppliers of that service, or else the job or contract will not be awarded. Fair to all!
Our labor union monopolies do not honor this inclusiveness for all workers; nor do the monopolies respect us, who pay for the tax supported jobs and contracts. We pay non-competitive labor rates because “The Right to Compete,” is anathema, so far, to the dominant party here. Madam Mayor-elect, please move toward equitable competition, inclusive and belonging for all our taxpaying, voting, non-union, excellent working residents, too. How can we discriminate against them and preach about “our values?”
8. People are decrying the fourteen percent vacancy of city jobs. Yet over the decades we know that every city department has “redundancy,” some crust, some fudge, a few nephews and nieces, people hired for the questionable merit of most ballot questions. One in seven positions left vacant can boost effectiveness, and be a solid reason to lower taxes fourteen percent.
9. “The Pancake Principle of Public Policy” gums things up. A small issue is sidestepped with a new regulation covering it, which unexpectedly creates another issue which is solved by another regulation, which creates another dilemma, and so another regulation is added, until the small issue is hidden under a tall stack of pancakes: the Pancake Principle! Our mayor-elect must review the stacks of pancakes in every department, get to the bottom to solve the original issue which was covered over and over and over, but is still there festering.
10. Harness innovative minds by hiring a Consultant for Innovation. I am sure his/her recommendation will be to copy the solutions to our issues, which have already been solved in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris.
Buy plane tickets to solve our city’s dilemmas.
Gardner A. Cadwalader is a retired Philadelphia architect and former Fairmount Park Commissioner.