Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter visited West Chester University Tuesday, April 8 in Philips Autograph Library to discuss ‘The Renaissance of a great American City’.Nutter, articulate when choosing his words, also served up a side- dish of self-deprecating humor when addressing the grueling issues plaguing Philadelphia, and how he is unmercifully dedicated to providing positive results.
Amidst commanding the podium, Nutter emphasized his tailored plan and outlined major areas that he’s making a top priority.
People are fully aware of+ the grim, notorious crime rates, inconsistent public educational funding, non-existent health care benefits, and housing, just to name a few. Current statistics reconfirm that almost 50 percent of high school students drop out. A mere 18 percent of Philadelphia residents have a college education.
The number of Philadelphians without health insurance has nearly doubled in the last six years, and currently stands at 160,000. On average, Philadelphia pays $10,000 to educate a child where as Upper Merion on average spends $21,000 per child.
Nutter said these statistics are inexcusable by remarking, “the quality of your education should not be pending on where your parents reside”.
Nutter has only been in office a short time, but his initiatives are paying off and people are taking notice. On April 4, Nutter unveiled Philadelphia’s first comprehensive Emergency Evacuation Routing Plan and several Tactical Evacuation Plans.
To develop this plan, the Managing Director’s office of Emergency Management (MDO-OEM) convened a work group of 25 City, State, and private sector organ’s to identify evacuation routes for pedestrians, mass transit, and private vehicles as well as routes specifically for emergency vehicles.
On April 8, 2008 Nutter reported the uplifting results following the April 5 Philly Spring Cleanup. Previous goals were set to pick up a million pounds of trash and get people involved to participate. Through collaborative efforts, 15,000 people participated and 2.5 million pounds of trash were cleared. To date, April 5 was the largest clean up of a city in the United States.
On April 10, Nutter signed five pieces of gun legislation sponsored by Council members Clarke and Miller. Five thousand, eighty-five guns were taken off the streets by police in 2007 alone.
Essentially, this legislation will involve a limit on hand gun purchases to one per month and a requirement that any lost or stolen gun be reported to police. It also includes a ban on assault weapons and would allow police to confiscate guns from any person an officer considers to be a risk to themselves or others. The law also will include a prohibition of guns to people with Protection from Abuse orders.
Nutter also made a poignant point by expressing his concern that employment is the strongest predictor of whether an adult ex-prisoner will ultimately return to prison, according to the National Academy of Science.
Therefore, Nutter proposed a new $10,000 per year tax credit for employers to hire up to 1000 ex-prisoners at an annual cost of $10 million. The Philadelphia Re-entry Employment Program (PREP) tax credit would be taken against the employer’s Business Privilege Tax liability.
Prisoners who express a desire to participate will be assessed in terms of the education and job training level and the housing and family situation. As a condition of receiving the tax credit, employers must provide a benefit package that includes at least $2000 in tuition supports for GED, Community College courses, or other vocational training.
As a condition of eligibility, employers must participate in life skills and basic financial management, as well as meet all of their outstanding child support and other obligations.
After being asked by a student body member why he chose to endorse prospective presidential candidate Hilary Clinton over Barack Obama, Nutter matter of factly answered,
“I made my decision independently; I thought she was the ‘best’ candidate. Hillary Clinton get’s it. She has 35 years of experience. However, if Obama gets elected, I will support him. I can’t stand behind eight possible years of McCain”.
Throughout the evening, Nutter passionately re-emphasized giving back to your community, through volunteering, mentoring, and being giving of yourself. After being asked by a student, what motivates him Nutter replied, “Knowing what you’re talking about, humor and never giving up are the elements. Giving heart and soul, each and every day.”
Kerry Barth is a student at West Chester University majoring in professional studies with minors in journalism and health sciences. She can be reached at KB358328@wcupa.edu.