Is Philadelphia government all that it can be? If you’re a typical Philadelphia homeowner or merchant, you’re chuckling now.
That’s why last week’s visit to beleaguered Frankford by movers and shakers in local government is not likely to bring about any great change in the way Philadelphia does business.
It’s all well and good that officials from a medley of city departments toured the neighborhood to see for themselves what’s ailing the area, but if Philadelphia government had been run the way it should be, the visit by the big shots wouldn’t even have been necessary.
Instead, we see houses (not homes) that have long been abandoned save for vagrants; abandoned houses that are sealed up — or worse, not sealed up — and absentee owners who thumb their noses at the city from afar because they’ve gotten away with it for years.
A city rule that a property owner must replace windows and doors if 80 percent of the neighborhood is occupied is well intentioned. It’s also a joke. Why 80 percent? A properly run city would require property owners to maintain their real estate regardless of the neighborhood. Strict and swift enforcement of city codes and laws — including heavy fines today, not tomorrow — would prevent neighborhoods from going downhill.
Contrary to what the politicians would have you believe, Philadelphia has enough municipal employees to keep the city running effectively and efficiently, including preventing blight and quality-of-life problems in neighborhoods like Frankford. But until city workers are required to tend to the city the way private industry would, don’t expect miracles. ••
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