Letter: Planning Our Future

When I talk to my neighbors they talk about planning a future where our schools improve, where crime is addressed through creating more opportunities for living-wage employment and communities are built on hope not false promises. Talking to your neighbors is where public policy should start, not where it ends.

But neighbors, residents, the citizens of our city are not planning our future. No, a few well-connected politicians and their donor patrons develop the plans for our city which are then forced upon us. On Tuesday the behind-the-scenes approach was laid bear when Janice Woodcock of the Planning Commission said that the Sugarhouse casino proposed across the street from peoples’ homes needs to move forward because of the city budget. She did not mention the ongoing, supposedly transparent process being planned by Penn Praxis or the alternative plans created by Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront. So, we are making planning decisions because of promises by an industry that has led New Jersey to have the worst property taxes in the country, not to mention some of the highest rates of corruption in government. Those behind the proposed casinos from Senator Fumo’s lawyer Richard Sprague to lame-duck Mayor John Street need to be “removed by court order” for the safety and well-being of our city. And city employees that do the bidding of the well-connected rather than the citizens of Philadelphia need to be replaced if they are too cowardly to stand up for what they believe in. What we need in this city is leadership built from the interests of talking to one’s neighbor not from getting the recent newsletter from the casino industry.

Jethro Heiko