Poverty is the #1 Issue Affecting Philadelphians

I recently attended a Mayoral debate at WHYY.  It featured the two candidates from the major parties in the city.  I did not realize that there were five candidates for Mayor until recently.  I appreciate the willingness of candidates to stand up for themselves and the issues on which they build a platform.  Most candidates will promise jobs above any other campaign pledge.  When asked about the opportunities to employ citizens Jim Kenney mentioned jobs on the waterfront as a redeeming factor for the 25% poverty rate affecting us.  Melissa Bailey mentioned the numerous call center jobs that are available.  Where these jobs are located only she knows.

There have been continued efforts made to deepen the ports of Philadelphia to accommodate larger ships.  We have ships that bring in a large number of containers but we cannot compete with Baltimore and New York for this business.  The one problem that I see with this idea is that the jobs at the waterfront are Longshoreman jobs.  The unions will not readily admit someone that is not the child or a relative of an existing member.  It is just the way that business is done.  I understand that candidates have to express what constituents want to hear but based on the lack of success of the Mayor's Advisory Commission on Construction Industry Diversity, highlighting waterfront jobs is just a pipe dream.

Image result for Jim Kenney and Melissa Bailey

I did not take the time to watch the Democratic Presidential debate last night.  I am not enamored of any of the candidates that are running and I don't feel that the national outlook will affect what we need here in my city.  Bernie Sanders is almost 75 years old and cannot be a viable two term candidate.  Hillary Clinton is almost 70 years old and can make more money on speaking fees than by being President.  I will look into Martin O'Malley from Maryland and if he remains in the race I will think about supporting his efforts. Not one of these candidates can do anything to lessen the impact of poverty in major cities.  We witnessed the conflagration of violence after the death of Freddie Gray on Baltimore.  Was it a coincidence that looting stores had to accompany this tragedy or was it pent up frustration at not being able to buy necessities that was part of the smash and grab?

Two to three 17 year old suspects recently murdered a man during a home invasion here in the city.  The victim had posted a picture of his wife with what was supposedly a large amount of cash.  If these young men would have been employed or involved in some type of positive activity they would not have terrorized a family and robbed them of their bread winner.  There have been a number of home invasions this year and the lack of jobs and economic disparities that continue to exist have set the stage for more gunpoint robberies.  A young transgendered woman was murdered recently because some suspects though she had money.  This young person was selling her body to make money only to meet an unfortunate end in a hail of bullets.

As I ride through the city I see the continued advancement of Penn Medicine.  I see approximately 10 $400k houses being built at 23rd & Ellsworth Street.  Pat Gillespie just handed off power to John Dougherty and the Philadelphia Building Trades Council continues to write large checks to maintain the viability of their union and its employees.  What I don't see is the efforts to uplift the many people who don't have access to the jobs that will allow for them to raise themselves up out of poverty.  A 14 year old boy was shot and killed yesterday at 12th & Parrish.  What would cause a group of young people to end what could have been a promising life so early?  Poverty and a lack of reasonable expectations of a positive future could be two of the reasons.  Even when the Pope was here for his visit there were ten shootings that weekend of primarily minority males.  Some things never change.  I am hoping that whomever wins the general election in November will not forget about addressing the sever effects of poverty.

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