A government that works with its people stays with its people — or rather, as newly elected Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney said in his Jan. 4 inauguration, “Government functions properly when it’s accessible and accountable to the people.” Standing amid former mayors and the newly inducted members of the Philadelphia City Council at the Academy of Music in Center City, Kenney focused on the cooperation of City Hall, local businesses and average citizens in his inauguration speech.
In a concise speech, the former Fels Institute of Government instructor laid out his goals to combat poverty, expand pre-kindergarten and create community schools. He also prominently addressed racial unrest over policing, a topic that the nation has grappled with over the last several months.
“We will have to all put aside our differences and acknowledge both: that black lives do matter, and that the overwhelming majority of our police are decent, hard working public servants who risk their lives every day,” he said, stressing his focus on the ability to feel safe and dignified on the streets of Philadelphia.
“It was great to hear him say that black lives matter during the inauguration, and something that Philly is going to need to address,” President of Penn Democrats and College junior Max Levy said. “Obviously it’s a long way ahead, but I think having the mayor of one of the largest cities in the nation embrace that proudly is a huge step.”
Among his primary speaking points, Kenney addressed the efforts Philadelphians are putting toward their community. These initiatives included volunteer service in city schools and social activism, both of which have attracted Penn students.
He added, “We will need the private sector and our nonprofit partners to come together with the city to create community schools.”
Students actively involved in city affairs agreed but pointed out the importance of financial assistance as well.
“Volunteering is really valuable, but we also think that volunteers can’t replace things that money can buy like teachers and books and school nurses,” said Student Labor Action Project member and College junior Devan Spear. SLAP has most recently turned its attention toward the revival of the PILOTs program, which provoked a protest at President Amy Gutmann’s holiday party in December 2014.
PILOTs refer to Payments in Lieu of Taxes, which involve nonprofit organizations making voluntary monetary contributions to local governments. PILOTs take the place of property taxes, which help to fund public schools, and from which nonprofits like Penn are exempt. A previous PILOTs program in Philadelphia ran from 1995 to 2000, during former Philadelphia Mayor and 1965 College graduate Ed Rendell’s administration, but it has not been renewed since. Mayor Kenney has previously shown his support for the PILOTs program.
Mayor Kenney repeated the phrase “providing efficient and effective services,” defining it as having an ethical government, educating children closer to home, increasing safety and decreasing the effects of poverty.
“I promise to serve you, to be accountable to you and, most importantly, to work with you. So we can make every Philadelphia neighborhood the best that it can be,” he said, ending the inauguration speech of the city’s 99th mayor.Comments powered by Disqus
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