The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Ed Rendell has come a long way since he was vice-president of the University's undergraduate student government. Indeed, since graduating from the College in 1965, Rendell has been a constant figure in any number of high-profile arenas in Philadelphia, most recently as Philadelphia's District Attorney. But like being vice-president of the University, his position as city DA was near the pinacle, but not on it. Now he wants to be on top -- he's running for mayor. The Democratic mayoral candidate grew up in New York City, leaving the Big Apple in 1961 to attend the University. And Rendell said last week that if you ask his mother, she would say his heart and mind have remained squarely in the City of Brotherly Love ever since. Rendell, like the other candidates in the highly competitive race for the Democratic nomination, will have to make proposals to help save the city from the current financial criticism while dealing with other difficult issues like crime and social services. Rendell, who has spent many of his Philadelphia years prosecuting in the local courts, said last week that fighting crime will be one of his top campaign issues as he works toward the May 21 primary. Rendell said he wants to add almost 1000 new officers to the city's police force. To raise the money needed for such an expansion, he said he would propose a $.10 surcharge on state lottery tickets sold in Philadelphia. "The police department has been cut beyond what is safe," Rendell said. The former DA said that he is opposed to raising wage, sales or real estate taxes to deal with the financial crisis. Such action, he said, would erode the tax base in Philadelphia -- forcing many to leave the city to escape the high taxes. He said this would lead to an elimination of the short-term cash crisis, but would turn into a long-term revenue problem. "It would result in a heavily negative psychological effect," Rendell said. "It would be the death knell for the city." He warned that even if the city avoids the crisis now, it is facing what he predicts to be a half-billion dollar deficit in the next two years. Rendell cites labor contracts and interest repayments as factors that would make this fiscal year's $230 million deficit "look minor." Rendell said the answer to the budget problem is a combination of cutting operation costs by between 10 and 15 percent and increased state aid. He claims that legislators in Harrisburg will be more receptive to proposals for increased aid once the city proves it is serious about cutting excess costs. The University will feel few or no negative effects from his proposals the 1965 College graduate said. But he said that user fees, like those recently paid by Yale University to the city of New Haven, will be an option the city should consider. User fees -- payments for city services including fire and police departments -- would be requested of the University and similar private non-profit institutions which currently pay no real estate taxes. The biggest budget cut Rendell plans is a cap on overtime pay which he said will save the city $35 million each year. He said the amount of overtime for city workers has increased tenfold in the last eight years. His other proposals include collecting overdue revenues, cutting the amount of time it takes to obtain supplies, and possible privitization of services like trash collection and disposal.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.