For Mayor Goode, Successes In A Year Of Crisis

Posted: January 01, 1989

As the final grain of sand slipped from 1988's hourglass, Mayor Goode had little more than two years to build the legacy he eloquently outlined in his inaugural address last Jan. 4.

For, come January 1991 - with still a year to go in his term - attention will almost certainly be focused on a crowded field of candidates seeking to succeed him.

Goode wasted no time last year in attempting to lay the groundwork for his agenda, one that promised to leave behind a city that shows more compassion to the poor and suffering, has a thriving economy, and works more efficiently.

Squeezing the city's bloated budget back into a comfortable size - or trying to - took up the bulk of the mayor's energy. And through his efforts - some successful, some not and some still under way - there emerged a widespread awareness that the city could no longer afford to do business the way it had in the past.

Most political observers credit Goode with getting a good start.

He won significant four-year labor contracts that paved the way for savings in city government and reduced the municipal workforce by more than 1,800.

He drew up an ambitious five-year financial plan that warned of a $725 million deficit by fiscal 1993 unless the city took drastic measures, such as a tax increase and further layoffs.

And, though his trash-to-steam plan was finally buried, he secured for Philadelphia a guarantee of landfill space for city trash for the next six years at a fixed price.

In focusing not just on immediate but on long-term problems, Goode seemed to be striving to extend his political imprint well beyond 1991, when his successor will be elected.

But he begins this year where he left off - fighting with City Council over control of city spending.

"The City Charter calls for a strong-mayor form of government. It says to the mayor: 'You're responsible to keep the budget balanced,' " said Chamber of Commerce president Nicholas DeBenedictis. "But it has shifted more and more to Council, and the mayor and the Council must get together to get things back in balance."

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Goode likes to describe his success rate with City Council in baseball terms.

Calculating his record with Council on major initiatives, he figures he has batted "about .800 out of 1.000," he said during a year-end interview.

But there are those who believe that heavyweight boxing might be a more appropriate analogy for Goode's bouts with city legislators.

Council pummeled to death Goode's trash-to-steam proposal, knocked around his fiscal 1989 budget for 2 1/2 weeks and cornered his efforts to trim Council's Class 500 grants against the ropes.

But Goode downplayed the problem. "I think that sometimes people look at the rhetoric and the tone that things are done in and don't look behind . . . at the substance of what has happened," he said.

"There are certainly things they have not done that I've wanted them to do, but no one has a 1.000 percent batting average. Not Reagan, not Dick Thornburgh, not Bob Casey," Goode said.

And he is quick to cite his consolation prizes.

"I had hoped that we would have a trash-to-steam plant; we don't. But we have a six-year solid-waste disposal agreement. . . . I had hoped to have gotten more taxes out of Council; we did not. But we got some taxes and we have a five-year financial strategy. . . . I had hoped that we would . . . have gotten the convention center fully passed this year, but we're going to be about 30 or 45 days shy of that," Goode said.

"So, whereas we did not hit 100 percent on everything we wanted to do this year, I think that on all the things we set out to do, we did, in fact, hit the target, although not the bull's eye, on all of them."

Perhaps last year's mayor-Council skirmishes drew so much attention because they often involved issues of utmost concern to nearly every city resident - taxes and services.

Throughout his 1987 campaign, Goode assured voters that the city's checkbook was balanced and that there would be no need for a tax increase. Then, three months into his second term, Goode called for a $67 million increase.

Over the next two months that figure continued to rise, to $126 million, and so did tempers as Council members accused him of having misled the public.

For more than two weeks they resisted Goode's request. Then, in the wee hours of May 25, they passed a $1.95 billion budget with $82.5 million in new taxes and a projected $128 million deficit. Council, ignoring the administration's recommendation, also left out $53 million to fund the local court system, and the city enters 1989 facing a state Supreme Court order to pay those costs.

Goode and Council ended the year again embroiled in rowdy debate, as the mayor sought to reshuffle $106 million in spending among city agencies.

Council members, railing against Goode's plans to cut funds from police, health and other service agencies, also took advantage of last month's Appropriations Committee hearings to verbally thrash City Solicitor Seymour Kurland for ruling that Council members could not hire their relatives, to berate Planning Commission Director Barbara Kaplan for encouraging the mayor to veto a bill permitting otherwise illegal sidewalk cafes, and to scold newly appointed Licenses & Inspections Commissioner Don Kligerman for reporting to his first day on the job rather than attending the committee hearings.

Goode brushed aside such behavior as mere theatrics:

"The rhetoric is far different than what the results are, and I prefer to deal with the results. I can't go out and stop a few Council people from asking hard questions and acting any way they want to act, but beyond all of that, when it came time to vote, they voted the right way."

And so it came to pass that after a week of heated hearings, the committee approved $60.9 million in budgetary changes, enough to keep the courts running through March and to replenish funds for other departments.

Later this month, the hearings crank up again, with Council members zeroing in on the mayor's plans to cut city departments that directly affect taxpayers, such as police, health and recreation. Again, Goode expects that when the dust clears, he'll have what he wants.

"At some point in the near future, reality will hit a majority of the Council members and they will do what needs to be done for the future of this city," Goode said. "The fact of the matter is that we have $2.8 billion to spend in this fiscal year. I'm aware of the concerns expressed by Council about cutting departments, but the reality is that they will either have to

absorb additional cuts or increase revenues. There's no way around that at all."

For Goode, last year's victory in winning four-year labor contracts - the first in two decades - was not so much in averting a strike, like the one in 1986 that left mounds of trash baking for 22 days in July. From the start

neither the blue-collar District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, nor the white-collar District Council 47, wanted a strike. They never even took a strike vote.

Goode's real prizes were work-rule changes and a cap on the unions' health and welfare funds. More savings came from the backloaded pay raises - the first kicks in Feb. 1 - that would boost wages by more than 19 percent but with a total cost to the city of only 6.5 percent over the life of the contract.

Two factors worked in Goode's favor. One was the removal of Earl Stout, a legendary bargainer, as president of District Council 33. The other, Goode said, was his proposal to turn trash collection over to private firms to save $32 million.

The mere threat of privatization gave Goode a powerful bargaining chip in winning the work-rule concessions, he has said.

Those changes permit the city to reduce the five-person pothole repair crews and to purchase new equipment, such as larger trucks that can be operated by one person.

"I think we will be able to provide better services in our Streets Department with the bigger trucks and improved equipment - better services with fewer people," he said.

Using an early-retirement incentive program, Goode last year reduced the city's workforce by more than 1,800, which he said cut the budget gap to $70 million. Still, he has said an additional 500 workers must leave by July to avert an even more serious deficit in the next fiscal year.

The mayor's five-year financial plan, released in October, also calls for a $70 million tax increase next year plus further cuts to head off a $725 million budget deficit in 1993. To study ways to make the plan work, Goode formed a Tax Policy and Budget Review Committee that is to report back before the mayor releases his proposed budget in the spring.

Throughout last year's fiscal fights, new Finance Director Betsy C. Reveal was cast by some as a villain, by others as a heroine. Wooed from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, she was one of the most visible of a new cast of supporting actors who joined Goode in his second term.

Also in the spotlight was Ernest G. Barefield, whom Goode brought in from Chicago to be his special counsel for legislative and policy affairs. Barefield resigned last month to run the Chicago mayoral campaign of Alderman Tim Evans amid promises that he will return to Philadelphia.

Midway through 1988, the exodus of first-term appointments began with the departure of reform-minded Police Commissioner Kevin M. Tucker, followed by Fire Commissioner William C. Richmond, Streets Commissioner Harry Perks and Water Commissioner William Marrazzo.

Goode set about trying to restore confidence in a Department of Human Services reeling from the deaths of children in its custody, after Irene F. Pernsley, DHS's embattled commissioner, resigned in June. Goode chose Joan L. Reeves, an administrator with the Texas Department of Human Services, to overhaul the agency.

He filled the rest of the vacancies with mid-level managers who had long worked in city agencies. One of them was Willie L. Williams, a 24-year veteran of the Police Department, who became the city's first black police commissioner.

"I think it's another barrier broken, another message sent clearly that no position in this government is closed to women, to blacks and minorities," Goode said.

On other fronts, the mayor moved aggressively to step up female and minority participation in city business. And he raised from 15 to 30 percent the minority-participation requirement for the city's largest current project, the $165 million criminal justice center. He also sternly warned the city's quasi-public agencies that unless they also abided by his rules, the city would reconsider doing business with them.

Although Goode's hard line angered some, who accused the mayor of contributing to racial tensions in the city, Deputy Mayor Justin L. Moorhead reported last month that all of those agencies had come forward with affirmative-action plans.

Goode said he wanted to ensure substantial participation by minorities and women in development projects that are beginning to take shape, such as the Penn's Landing project, unveiled last month.

"There are at least 50 major projects either completed or under way that were not under way when I came into office. And there are those who would say, 'Well, they just happened anyway.' Well, I contend they happened because we set a climate in this city through the appointment of good people in the Department of Commerce and with the open-door policy to the entire business community by the mayor of the city."

In early 1988, Goode proposed $44 million in expanded city programs, including increased funds to cope with the city's AIDS epidemic, to expand recycling and street cleaning, and to initiate a model program for housing the homeless.

By the end of the year, that wish list had come up short as almost every city neighborhood had begun to feel the pinch of the tight budget.

Residents of West Philadelphia protested the closing of a fire station; parents in Northeast Philadelphia staged noisy vigils over reduced hours at recreation centers, and residents of drug-plagued neighborhoods reacted with alarm at proposed cuts in the Police Department in a year when drug-related violence exploded on city streets.

Goode sought to drive out drug dealers by sealing more than 200 houses they had taken over. And he created a 16-member anti-drug leadership council to exchange information on drug prevention, treatment and enforcement.

As for those city residents who literally took to the streets to try to chase out drug dealers, the mayor offered praise, saying 1988 "really saw a community stand up and say no to drugs."

Goode is hoping for a similar partnership with the people to help him overcome the city's financial crisis.

He plans to take his five-year plan to city residents over the next three months, in town meetings where he will explain his view of the need for new taxes and a reduced workforce.

"The people need to understand a couple of things," he said. "Number one, the sky is not falling in. Number two, we're much better off than some major cities. . . . And number three, we've faced the issue head on early enough to prevent the sky from falling in three or four or five years down the road."

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