IF MAYOR KENNEY'S ambitious Rebuild program is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
We believe the $500 million program - financed by bonds, proceeds from the soda tax and an eye-popping $100 million grant from the William Penn Foundation - is worth doing. It represents a once-in-a-generation chance to repair and rebuild the city's 400 parks, recreation centers, playgrounds and libraries.
The plan takes that admirable goal a step further. It also aims to increase minority employment, especially in the building and construction trades, who have - to say the least - a poor record in opening these well-paying crafts to women and minorities.
Under Kenney's plan, the money would be funneled through two local nonprofits that would help oversee the projects. These are not fly-by-night operations: The Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Free Library Foundation have been doing good work for decades.
The use of nonprofits also allows the city to avoid the low-bid requirement for city contracts and makes it easier for other foundations and individuals to donate to the cause.
What's wrong with this happy picture? Council President Darrell Clarke doesn't like it. Emerging from his usual cone of silence, Clarke signaled his objections late last year, saying he wanted the program to stay within city government and hinted that if Council did not get its way, it would not approve the legislation needed to float the Rebuild bonds.
The backstory is that some Council members want control over the money spent by Rebuild. Their argument is that they know best about facilities in their districts - and don't want anyone to interfere with choosing which ones get repaired or rebuilt.
To them, it is an open-and-shut case. But is it?
Granted, the city's 10 district Council members have an intimate knowledge of their districts. And the best ones regularly consult with civic groups about their needs.
But those same Council people know little about the parks, rec centers and libraries outside their districts. Suppose a playground in Cobbs Creek is in far worse shape than one in Frankford? Suppose their local rec center has a leaky roof, but the roof on one in Port Richmond is in danger of caving in?
Anyone can draw up a list of what needs to be done, but someone has to rank them - and we know just the man to do it: Mayor Kenney.
Kenney stood for election citywide. It's his job is to represent the city as a whole. He has a skilled staff of professionals who share his citywide view. To cite just one example: Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis has spent most of his adult life involved with parks and recreation.
If some on Council had their way, they would take the $500 million and divvy it up - $50 million for each of their districts. That's a sure formula for waste, and we can't afford to dribble away this money.
Kenney is too smart a politician to rebuff Council members' legitimate needs. But give us a break. Letting Council have sole say and veto power over this program is bad policy, bad politics and bad for their constituents.
We urge Clarke and others on Council to back off their veiled threat to kill the Rebuild program unless Council gets all it wants. It would be a crime to let this opportunity slip away.