Mayor John Street’s recent announcement of multi-million dollar budget cuts to the Safe Streets program and Neighborhood Transformation Initiative immediately following his reelection bring up serious questions about his commitment to this city and its neighborhoods.
With the “neighborhood” mayor’s proposing slashing the police overtime that kept more police officers in high-crime areas not even a week after election day, one of the key reasons for his victory is now gone.
Furthermore, Mayor Street’s suggestion of “adjustments” as a euphemism for what the Safe Streets program will go through under the cuts does not bode well for this city.
The reason Mayor Street won a second term in a hugely controversial, highly contested mayoral race was exactly because of programs like Safe Streets and NTI. For the first time, block after block in Strawberry Mansion and Kensington are now free of outdoor drug dealing. Neighborhood Transformation Initative was responsible for hundreds of vacant buildings throughout the city being demolished, a move hugely popular with residents of blighted areas. These budget cuts mean fewer cops to patrol the streets and fewer run-down buildings being knocked down. Although the budget crunch facing Philadelphia is a tough reality, it does not justify slashing either of these programs under any circumstances.
Budget cuts to programs that allow children to play outside and senior citizens to walk to the corner store are cynical at best, unjustifiable at worst. Philadelphia’s budget is bloated with patronage, unnecessary jobs and redundant city agencies that are not being touched. Unfortunately, the holders of those jobs are plugged into the Democratic machine: The ordinary citizens of North Philly are not.
By timing the announcement of these cuts the same week as Election Day, Mayor Street has proven once again his lack of regard for public opinion and the inability of the city of Philadelphia to give its citizens the services they need.