For my constituents in Ward 21 Division 24

Here are my recommendations for your consideration when you vote on Tuesday May 17 Elected Officials First, I’d like to ask you to vote for me to have another term as your Democratic committee person and also to vote for my wife, Diane Gottlieb as well. Diane wants to step in on a temporary basis as I look for another person who can step into the big shoes left by my late partner Brenda Taylor. I hope the work I’ve done to keep you informed about out elections over the last 16 years warrant another term Second, Josh Shapiro has no competitor in the race for governor but two candidate  are running for Lieutenant Governor. I strongly recommend you vote for Austin Davis. He has been a good state representative, bring racial and geographic balance to the ticket, he is a good campaigner and will be a calm, supportive partner to… Continue reading

Philadelphia Needs to Create Jobs and Reduce Poverty: Tax Cuts Won’t Do It

For the last twenty years, discussion about ways to improve the economy of Philadelphia and create jobs has far too often focused on both the wrong goal and the wrong means. The goal has not been to reduce poverty and income inequality and create economic opportunity for those with low incomes, especially Black and brown people. Instead, it has been to pursue economic growth and jobs without regard for the impact on poverty. The means have been cuts in business and wage taxes even though the evidence showing that this is an effective and efficient way of pursuing economic growth and creating more jobs has always been questionable. And there has been good reason to fear that tax cuts and the spending cuts or restraint they require would fail to reduce poverty and income inequality and possibly make them worse. Meanwhile, we have too often ignored alternatives to tax cuts… Continue reading

Guest Commentary: Is This Really Taxadelphia?

The director of a state budget and policy organization has an answer that may surprise you BY MARC STIER Originally published in The Philadelphia Citizen, April  21, 2022 “Philadelphia is one of the highest-taxed cities in the United States.” But you knew that, right? It’s common knowledge. Everyone knows it. Everyone also knows that Philadelphia has been growing slowly because of its high taxes.Beware of what “everyone knows.” Sometimes ideas get repeated so often, they become common knowledge that turns out to be wrong.The truth is that of the 30 largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia ranks 13th in tax revenue per person per year. The falsehood that Philadelphia has one of the highest tax rates in the country is not a neutral fact. It has political implications. It reinforces the narrative that blames Philadelphia’s high taxes for its anemic job growth. At $4,302, Philadelphia’s per person revenue is… Continue reading

It’s Time to Reinstate the Philadelphia Wealth Tax

Wealth inequality in America, in Pennsylvania, and in our region has been growing strikingly since the late 1970s. And wealth inequality continues to increase during the pandemic. The dramatic rise in wealth inequality threatens economic growth, reduces the tax revenues needed to fund vital public institutions, and undermines our democracy. To counter wealth inequality and to raise the revenue needed to fund programs that support the well-being of working people in our city, we call for the reinstitution of a wealth tax of 4 mill or .4% of the value of intangible wealth in Philadelphia. We estimate that this tax would raise more than $200 million per year in revenues for the city, which would provide the funds necessary to create and / or expand programs that would enable us to break down the barriers of class, race, and gender that stand in the way of opportunity for so many… Continue reading

The Dougherty-Henon Verdict is a Miscarriage of Justice and Why it Matters

John Dougherty and Bobby Henon were convicted of bribery and other charges today. Having read the original indictment and followed the trial closely, I continue to think that indictment and trial, as well as the conviction, was a terrible miscarriage of justice. Aside from the last couple of paragraphs, I wrote the following about six week ago before the trial started. I have seen no reason to change my argument or conclusion. …This trial of John Dougherty and Bobby Henon strikes me as an attempt to criminalize everyday politics. Did John Dougherty want Bobby Henon to be on City Council so that he would have a friend who would support Local 98’s causes. Yes. But that’s not illegal. Everyone who supports a candidate or makes a contribution to him or her wants that. Did John Dougherty need to have Bobby Henon on his payroll for Henon to support Local 98’s… Continue reading

No Time For Giving Up

It appears that members of the General Assembly are moving towards a final plan for funding the budget they passed in June. We share the sense of relief that is gradually emanating from the Capitol—we, too, are tired of talking about the budget. But we also know that the urge to get something done can sometimes overcome the urge to get it done right. So now is the time for members to demand that this budget not just be finished but be finished right. That means two things. First, that the revenue plan include sufficient recurring tax revenue to address our long-term structural deficit. The pain of the last three months will be for naught if the state finds itself facing an even larger deficit on July 1, 2018. A large deficit in an election year offers too much temptation for the worst kind of budget chicanery and gimmickry, which… Continue reading

Another Term for Alan Butkovitz

In all excitement about the DA’s race, a lot of Philadelphians have not paid much attention to the Controller’s race, also on the ballot. 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… Continue reading

About That Letter About Larry

  There is a letter from 12 “former Assistant DAs” calling on voters not to vote for Larry Krasner on the grounds that he has never been a prosecutor, that he has been misleading in criticizing the culture of the District Attorney’s office, and that our safety will be at risk. Not only do I not find the letter plausible, for a number of reasons, large and small, the more I read it and learn about those who signed it the more appalled by it I get. To start with the big reasons. First, we don’t need to take Larry Krasner’s word for the problems in the DA’s office. There is plenty of independent evidence. We know that mass incarceration, especially of black men, is a serious problem across America and the rate of incarceration in Philadelphia is among the highest in the country. We know that the Philadelphia DA’s… Continue reading

Larry Krasner for DA

I generally don’t get involved in electoral politics now. But I’m going to make one exception this year and tell you that I plan to vote for Larry Krasner for DA. And the reason I’m making the exception is that I’m not just a little with him. I feel the same way about him that I did about Helen Gym two years ago and a really special candidate for city council at large in 2007. He is the only candidate I see who can look at the DA’s office with fresh eyes and stop and think about how it can contribute to the well being of the city as opposed to tinkering around the edges of an on-going operation. He’s the only candidate who understands the rot in the PPD and who is willing to do the hard work (and absorb the punishment he will receive for doing it) in… Continue reading