The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

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


Penn alumnus W Wilson Goode Jr. is one of several recently elected officials who champions the idea of Penn paying PILOTs. | Courtesy of Michael Gray/ Flickr

W. Wilson Goode Jr. — former city councilman, 1986 College graduate, son of a former mayor and outspoken champion of Penn paying PILOTs — has returned to City Council as senior policy advisor to President Darrell L. Clarke. The manner in which he returned, however, has raised concerns.

After 16 years as a Democratic at-large councilman, Goode lost his primary race in May 2015, but the defeat didn't inhibit the former politician from remaining relevant within Philadelphia politics.

Goode's new position as senior policy advisor, announced on Jan. 8 through a press release, was created to help “overcome the income inequality and generational poverty” in Philadelphia, according to Clarke.

The new position pays $135,000 a year, as compared to the $129,373 salary Goode earned as a councilman. The hefty salary and questions about whether or not the position was created specifically for the Penn grad have been brought up as points of concern.

Larry Platt — the co-founder and editor of the nonprofit media organization The Philadelphia Citizen — argued that Goode's appointment is part of the insiders game that too often dominates Philadelphia politics.

“To create a position for him at a salary increase is a smack to voters in the face. This is not a criticism of councilman Goode as it is an indictment of the system,” Platt said.

Local politics expert and St. Joseph’s University professor Randall Miller concedes that the situation has a controversial aspect, but described Wilson Goode Jr. as “a man of integrity.”

When contacted, Goode declined an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian citing his new role as “behind the scenes”. However, Clarke’s spokeswoman Jane Roh assured The Philadelphia Inquirer that the position was already planned even before Goode was considered as a candidate.

Mayor Jim Kenney, a former Fels Institute of Government instructor, backed Goode’s appointment. Both Goode and Kenney worked together as councilmen for years until last year’s election when one was ousted from the Council and the other promoted to the mayoralty. 

“Councilman Goode brings a wealth of legislative experience and policy knowledge to this position, and I know he will enhance the great work already being done by the Council President’s office and all of City Council,” Kenney said in a statement. “He served the City of Philadelphia and its citizens honorably and passionately during his time on Council. I’m happy to see that he will continue serving the City in this capacity.”

Goode’s qualifications aside, some political observers criticized the way Clarke filled the position as nontransparent and deeply troubling. 

“I would have more confidence that this wasn’t just insiders taking care of insiders if there had been a public search for the person with the most innovative idea on how to combat poverty,” Platt said. “If they’re saying that Wilson Goode has the most innovative ideas on how to combat poverty, my response would be: 'Well, after [more than] a dozen years in City Council, why do we still have the worst poverty in the nation?'"

It is unclear from City Council’s press release and media reports what the recruitment process for the position entailed.

Although a Penn alumnus, Goode has clashed with the University because of his position on having Penn and other nonprofits make Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOTs. These voluntary contributions are made by nonprofit organizations to finance essential city services like trash collection, police and fire protection.

A great part of local school funding relies on revenues from property taxes, which Penn and other nonprofits are exempt from paying under Pennsylvania law. A PILOTs program would help the debt-ridden school district, supporters say.

In March 2015 Goode introduced a resolution in council “calling on the Nutter Administration to pursue PILOTs, or voluntary contributions from large nonprofit institutions, to address the City’s school funding crisis.”

Unlike Nutter — who was resistant to support PILOTs — Kenney included PILOTs in his campaign platform and has continually expressed his support for them. Goode's non-binding resolution passed with near unanimous support in the spring before he lost his re-election bid. 

Comments powered by Disqus

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