My choice in that race, as it was four years ago, is Alan Butkovtiz.
Four years ago I wrote this in support of him against an opponent who had a strong record as an independent thinker on budget matters:
“If you actually read the reports of our Controllers, as I have for many years, you will see that under Alan Butkovitz, the office of the Controller has done some exemplary work. His report on emergency medical response and the follow up reports are fabulous (and address an issue I care a great deal about and campaigned on in 2007.) He’s revelations of corruption in the Sherriff’s office has led to criminal investigations and civil action to recover millions of dollars. He’s issued many other reports pointing to wasteful spending and sources of new revenue in the city.”
In the last four years, Alan has vindicated my support of him. He has continued to do first class work in shining a light on waste, fraud, and abuse in city government. He was out front and center in focusing in the many issues in the Department of Licenses and Inspections and it’s still inadequate inspection of demolitions. His report on Fire Department brownouts raises serious questions that the Mayor and Council need to address. He’s pointed to serious problems in both charter and traditional public school. He’s pointed to misuse of the city’s fleet of cars—and issue that has come up in the investigation of DA Seth Williams. His report on the problems with making provisional ballots available during the 2012 election, led to new procedures being put in place in 2016. He reported that the cameras installed to reduce crime were both costly and frequently not in service. Although he has limited power to investigate the schools, his reporst have pointed to waste and fraud in both traditional and charter schools.
There are many other examples of Butkovitz’s audits and performance reviews improving city services. But as important as the traditional work of the controller is Alan’s embrace of new policy initiatives. The Anchor Procurement Initiative, started out as a research project into spending patterns by our local hospitals and universities with any eye toward identifying ways they might spend more of their $6 billion annual procurement budgets locally. This turned into an actual program in partnership with Kenney’s Commerce Department to actually convene institutional purchasers and help connect their demand with local vendors to create jobs. The program is moving forward and we wil soon seen the results in a new vertical farm driven by hospital and university food service purchasing, a medical laundry, and other businesses that will put hard-to-employ Philadelphians back to work at good paying jobs.
Given this record, why would one look for another or endorse candidate?
Well, for some Philadelphians, the mere fact that Alan is a ward leader is a reason to discredit him. But, frankly, that’s as narrow minded a view as is its opposite. This is not the place to explain why the common progressive view of the ward system as a source of corruption in the city is sadly out of date—although I will note that ward leaders opposed Kathleen Kane, Seth Williams, and Rob McCord while progressive reformers like me supported them. Let me just say here that there is no evidence that his political position ever interferes with Alan’s work.
And, if the most important thing about a controller is his independence from the current administration—and it is certainly one of the key criteria— then Alan is a much better choice than someone who worked in the Kenney administration.
The choice is clear. I urge you to support Alan Butkovitz for another term as controller