By Councilwoman Marian Tasco
On my way home from church on Sunday, I stopped by Fresh Grocer Supermarket in the Germantown community (Rep. John Myers’ District) to pick up a few things. As I shopped this fully stocked, clean, well-patronized store, I thought about the excuses given by Dwight Evans’ Philadelphia colleagues who voted against him to retain his role as ranking member of the powerful House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and who in turn voted against Philadelphia. Their excuse: “funds flowed to projects of his allies.” One commented that there was “a feeling in the caucus of a growing cronyism.”
How short sighted and unfortunate that these “Philadelphians” were so blind.
Characterizing Dwight’s efforts to help all of Philadelphia as “cronyism” is a weak, hollow excuse for an old fashioned political strong arming.
Cronies/Friends! Knowing Dwight Evans these thirty years, I could not fathom how they came to that conclusion. My take on Dwight is that he got into politics to help his neighborhood and all of Philadelphia.
Need I remind you, the Pennsylvania Convention Center has been Philadelphia’s strongest economic driver. What about the Pennsylvania students who will benefit from $44 million appropriated annually for scholarship organizations; $22 million for innovative educational improvememt programs in public schools and $8 million for a separate pre-kindergarten scholarship program. And, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education’s $1.7 million for the parent’s involvement program of the Philadelphia School District.
The loudly touted Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation has for over 30 years transformed a community which was blighted when Dwight became the State Representative. Ask Dwight’s friends and cronies in West Oak Lane, East Oak Lane, and Mt. Airy if the funds for this widely renowned economic revitalization effort were a waste of “their tax dollars.” Ask the residents of Haines Street was it a waste to rehab more than a dozen dilapidated homes (not in his district).
Talk to the folk in North Philadelphia about the investment in Smith Playground. Call the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Avenue of the Arts, the Asian Arts Initiative, the Fairmount Park Commission, the Oak Lane Tree Tenders, the Philadelphia Recreation Dept, Manna, etc., and let them tell you why they are proud to be friends/cronies of Evans.
Let’s add to the friends/crony list the Public Utility Commission’s appropriation of $1.2 million for the employment of employees with disabilities.
Don’t forget our thousands who ride public transportation. He introduced $1.3 billion transportation funding to ensure workers can get to places of employment.
And back to my beginning, the Supermarket Initative which provided for the construction of much needed supermarkets in North Philadelphia, at 52nd and Jefferson in West Philadelphia, and at 24th & Oregon in South Philadelphia as well as various locations across the entire State.
It seems like Dwight has thousands of friends and cronies in Philadelphia and across the State, all of whom have benefited from his leadership as appropriation chair, including the three Philadelphians who admittedly voted against Philadelphia. Representative Angel Cruz received one million dollars for the Maria Santos Medical Office. Representative William Keller received $2.5 million for the Stage Hands Training Center and Representative Michael O’Brien received $1.4 million for the William Way House. It looks like they are friends/cronies of Evans too.
Philadelphia was wrought by Philadelphians who voted against Dwight Evans’ leadership when they bought into a damaging petty political agenda.
Dwight Evans’ friends/cronies should challenge those Philadelphians who voted against Philadelphia to share their friends/cronies list. Time will tell how their betrayal will benefit Philadelphia. Will their friends /cronies list be as wide-ranging as the guy they voted out of leadership? Not a chance!