Voice of the public in a noisy Council chamber

The City Council chambers Thursday morning was packed with beverage workers protesting the soda tax, students and parents urging politicians to focus on education and others just simply wanting their voices heard. During the 3-hour public hearing, children chanted and sang in the fourth floor hallway outside the council hearing.

Nearly two dozen people spoke. Here’s a glance at their concerns:

“I do not agree that throwing money in a broken school system is the answer. What has (Mayor Nutter) done for the last three and a half years? Why is he now just waking up? He promised no more taxes. He needs to be accountable.” - Karen Brown, Republican candidate for mayor.

“We are here today because of a lot of bad decisions that have been made. Think carefully how to fix the system, not just about the soda tax.” - Helen Gym, parent.

“Proper public education is not something we can sacrifice.” - L’Keisha Wilson, school volunteer.

“Children are going to be hurt. Stop playing games with these kids’ lives.” - Robert Benjamin, parent.

“Employees will lose jobs because of the soda tax — 1,200 up to 2,000. Where will you go to find the money next year?” - Vaughn Dickinson, area Vice President and General Manager at Pepsi Beverages Company

“We know what works in our education: extra support, long days. This is not a silver bullet, it’s comprehensive. We need this strategy.” -Sandra Dungee Glenn, former School Reform Commission chair.

“We need all the (school) programs. Pennsylvania is the 47th state in education. We need to fund our schools. We need answers.” - Emmanuel Bussie, Director of Operations for National Coalition of African American Organizations.

“We have turned our schools around; we are moving upward. We know this model works.” -William Wade, principal at the Promise Academy at Roberts Vaux High School.

“The new (soda) tax can serve as an example for innovation. I would gladly drink more soda if I knew every sip would bring us closer to closing the academic achievement gap. Everyone must sacrifice. We must dedicate ourselves.” - Lola Oladopo, creator, founder and blogger for Cap the Gap.

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