There was a discernible whiff of politics in the atmosphere yesterday as Katz quickly accepted the invitation of Democratic Councilwoman and ward leader Marian Tasco to tour Logan as she seeks expanded assistance for owners of sinking homes.
Tasco has asked Mayor Rendell to more than double the relocation area beyond the nearly 1,000 homes that have been condemned and largely demolished.
The condemned homes were built on soft fill in the 1920s. The relocation of those families has cost $33 million in state, federal and city funds.
Tasco said she thinks the sinking extends beyond the existing relocation area, and that other homes have been abandoned as families left the nearby decay.
Tasco invited both mayoral candidates to come and examine the problem.
Katz responded quickly and got the first tour. Tasco said the campaign of Democrat John Street has promised to follow suit.
Katz was moved by the plight of Marva Dawson, one of three remaining residents of condemned Warnock Street. She lives in fear, she said, surrounded by drug dealers who gallop across the roofs of the empty rowhouses that line the street.
Dawson has accepted a relocation settlement but can't move yet because her check won't be ready until the fall.
"This is unsafe and it's grossly unfair," Katz said. "We have to advance the funds to get these people out of this situation."
On the broader question of whether the city should double the multimillion Logan buyout, Katz offered concern, but no hard commitment.
"I think Logan should stir the conscience of Philadelphia," Katz said.
"I think the state and federal government have to play a role in this, and I think the mayor has a role to play in taking leadership," Katz added. "The city of Philadelphia can't do this by itself, but it can't pretend it has no responsibility."
Rendell yesterday wrote Tasco that he'll seek a study of the area she's identified by the Army Corps of Engineers, Deputy Mayor Kevin Feeley said.
While both Tasco and Katz said yesterday's tour wasn't about politics, it has intriguing political dimensions. A Republican with a heavy registration disadvantage, Katz has been actively reaching out to Democrats for support.
And they've known each other a long time. Both Tasco and Katz, a former Democrat, were early supporters of former U.S. William Gray.