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An open letter to State Sen. Dominic Pileggi
I'm writing to tell you that you are being childish and irresponsible holding the city of Philadelphia's budget hostage to the state budget negotiations. By law both the state of Pennsylvania and city of Philadelphia were supposed to work a complete budget deal by July 1.
The city of Philadelphia kept up its end of the deal and met that July 1 deadline and state government dropped the ball. Now you, as part of political gamesmanship, are punishing the people of Philadelphia to try to gain leverage in those still ongoing state budget negotiations.
Thats an awful, awful, downright immoral thing to do. It makes you seem like a petty, vindictive person in my book.
I read that you are a former mayor of the city of Chester. As such I would think you would understand how devastating the types of layoffs of 3,000 city workers, especially more than 600 police, will have on the safety of many Philadelphia neighborhoods. So you know full well and understand the fire you are playing with.
And since you understand the consequences of your actions, you seem to be deliberately committed to a politics of petty threats with your actions. It becomes apparent that threats are all you understand.
Recently there has been a lot of controversy about the large amount of state support going to a stadium for a new professional soccer team called interestingly the "Philadelphia Union". I understand as Chester's former Mayor that there is a certain amount of excitement about the new stadium in your home town.
I also understand that there has been about $47 million in direct state aid to the stadium complex, that the site will be free of property taxes for 12 years and that the Delaware River Port Authority (whose mission is to fund and manage port and transit facilities not sports stadiums) pumped another roughly $10 million in infrastructure (roads, sewers) towards making the site buildable. And that DRPA money comes largely from bridge tolls across the Delaware, not just in Chester, but from all the bridges here in Philly crossing over to New Jersey. And tolls were recently raised by a third up too $4. So in essence Philly residents, including 3,000 city workers potentially facing layoffs, are helping to support your town's new stadium every time they drive across the Walt Whitman bridge to go to the Jersey Shore. For an interesting story on the perhaps ironically named "Philadelphia Union" stadium, I suggest this Isiah Thompson article.
I think that if you are going to hold Philadelphia's ability to tax itself hostage because you think it gives you a leg up in your budget negotiations with the Governor, our former mayor, that turn-about is fair play. I think the DRPA and the Governor should immediately stop all funding to your towns new stadium and put it on hold till you disconnect the city's budget from the ongoing state budget process.
If that seems petty and unfair, it is. Exactly as petty and unfair as holding the city's budget hostage to get leverage against the Governor on state budget negotiations.