Cutbacks In Essential City Services Likened To Genocide

Posted: December 08, 1988

Are we moving to a state of genocide here in Philadelphia? City officials, under the Home Rule Charter, are supposed to provide services to the citizens in such a way that their health and well-being are maintained.

Are we being provided adequate services when our Police Department is understaffed; when our fire stations are closed and not replaced; when fire engines needed to fight fires are used to answer emergency rescue calls; when our health centers are being privatized, understaffed and under-supplied; when our Streets Department workers no longer sweep our streets?

All of these services are supposedly reduced because the Reagan administration cut funds to the cities, and the city must spend money to replace the federal dollars.

Hogwash! The city is losing millions of dollars by allowing center-city developers tax forgiveness. Just a few weeks ago, a city councilman introduced a bill that would allow a developer of condominums, priced between $350,000 and $3 million each, tax forgiveness. That is millions of dollars in taxes that could be used for police, fire, streets, rec and libraries.

The city claims that forgiveness to developers is the only way business will come to the city. Well now that the developers have benefited from millions in tax savings, they tell the city they would have come anyway. Philadelphia housing is still the cheapest of the five most populous cities.

Now that we have lost millions in tax forgiveness, the city wants to increase taxes of ordinary citizens and put us further in debt by the $50 million bond issue (adopted by the voters Nov. 8) supposedly for police, recreation and other city services, plus the convention center.

Come on city officials, let's be for real. Many of us know that most of the $50 million will go to the convention center and very little to improving of city services.

Citizens should go to City Council's weekly meeting every Thursday at 10 a.m. and demand that Council address the critical shortage of city services and stop the mayor's campaign to privatize city services. If taxpayers do not respond in numbers, the city will continue to follow the agenda of big business and corporations, and the ordinary citizens will suffer by:

* Falling victim to homelessness because they can't say thse high taxes.

* Dying while waiting for a fire truck to put out a fire while it's on a rescue call.

* Losing police to early retirement because they can't get back-up when they make a dangerous arrest.

* Suffering because of the lack of medicine, staff and equipment in health centers.

* Suffering because our children are hurt in accidents in understaffed and unsafe playgrounds.

* Children dying because social welfare services do not know how to advocate for families in crisis.

* Children dying from shootouts between drug dealers who find the fastest and easiest way to make lots of money is selling coke on the corners.

The body count is growing, and I call that genocide.

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Readers are welcome to submit proposed "Guest Opinion" columns to Editorial Dept., Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Phila., Pa. 19130.

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