The semester is ending, and, with just one more edition left after this, I thought it appropriate to reflect on some of the major events of the last 10 weeks that shaped where we stand today.
OUR POLITICAL ENVIRONS
Clearly, the biggest event was the election of Michael “DJ Mixmaster Mike” Nutter to the office of mayor. With his election comes a bevy of fresh new faces in the political arena. Last week’s appointment of Charles Ramsey succeeding the ineffectual Sylvester Johnson as the next police commissioner serves as a case in point. For the first time in decades, there is the potential for a sea change in Philadelphia politics.
Of course, anyone who’s spent some time in this city knows that things rarely unfold this easily. Aside from Nutter’s victory, entrenched incumbents or puppets of the Philadelphia Democratic Party defeated virtually every reform candidate on the ballot, in large part because of unmotivated or uncaring voters. In possibly the most egregious case of outright bad decision making on the part of the electorate, John Singletary won a seat in the traffic court despite having $11,000 dollars in outstanding parking violations and having publicly intimated that he would do favors for campaign donors if elected.
Many of the old faces of the party machine are still around to bedevil Nutter’s attempts at stewarding our city. This mistake cannot be undone, but we still have the chance to hold every politician to the highest standards of public office by staying educated about our leaders
The Murano, the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, 10 Rittenhouse Square, the Symphony House phase II, Spring Arts Point, Phase II of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and a number of other proposed projects are all continuing the slow forward march of development in Philadelphia. We have been blessed to have already seen a number of new buildings reach near-completion in just the last few months, including the gargantuan Comcast Center.
As an already undervalued housing market, Philadelphia has managed to avoid much of the real estate price crash triggered by sub-prime mortgage crisis and speculative building. Development is key to reigniting the city, and we have been lucky to see so much in such a short period of time. PennPraxis unveiled their unified vision for the Delaware waterfront last week, making real growth along the river seem like a reality for the first time in forty years.
Still, we must stay vigilant to preserve our history and choose good development instead of any development. Having seen Center City continue to flower, we must also look to our neighborhoods, which have been sorely neglected for too long. Even over the last few months, places like Germantown, Frankford and Olney have continued to flounder while the core of the city shines ever brighter. If we cannot also bring prosperity to the many neighborhoods that form the true heart of Philadelphia, we are doomed as a city. Sadly, this semester, like all the others I’ve passed through at Temple, has seen little change at all for the inner city.
We must be educated and wary, shepherds of change and watchmen for stagnation, both can be just as poisonous if not dealt with properly.
Ryan Briggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.