It’s time to turn the page, Philadelphia. With a new year upon us, here are my wishes for our great city in 2018.
Win the bid for Amazon’s second HQ
Philadelphia is among the front-runners to be chosen by Amazon as the online titan’s second U.S. headquarters. Mayor Kenney and his team deserve credit for putting together a compelling and highly competitive bid package. Philadelphia meets virtually all criteria set forth by Amazon. We have the available land, millennial population, density of top-notch universities and hospitals, transportation infrastructure, richness of art and history, and burgeoning tech sector that Amazon craves. We also have a preeminent East Coast location and the most affordable cost of living of any major city in the Northeastern United States.
Extend the Broad Street subway into the Navy Yard
The Navy Yard is booming. Major companies continue to locate or expand their operations there, which means more jobs and more people. To ease increasing vehicular traffic and ensure the long-term viability of the Navy Yard as a hub of major industry, we’d be well-advised to continue to lobby state and federal officials to help fund the extension of SEPTA’s Broad Street Line into the Navy Yard. The extension would be a game-changer for the city. If we build it, they will come.
Get Lady B back on Philly radio
Famed Philadelphia DJ Wendy “Lady B” Clark was recently and surprisingly let go by WRNB. Lady B was an incredibly important voice for the city’s many hip-hop fans. In her three-decades-plus career, she introduced Philly listeners to legendary acts like DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Eric B and Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, and many others. She was also a pioneer as a successful female radio host in the male-dominated world of hip-hop. Here’s hoping some wise Philadelphia radio executive signs Lady B to a contract and gets her back on our airwaves early in 2018.
Gov. Wolf’s reelection
Wolf deserves four more years in office. Despite the state’s Republican-dominated and often-defiant legislature, Wolf has Pennsylvania headed in the right direction. His significant investments in public education have led to huge increases in the number of kids enrolled in pre-K and kindergarten. Under his leadership, Pennsylvania has jumped to second in the nation in the number of science, technology, engineering, and math course offerings, preparing our youth for modern jobs.
On the health-care front, Wolf expanded Medicaid, reduced the uninsured rate to its lowest ever, increased enrollment in CHIP by 20 percent, expanded home-based care for seniors, and legalized medical marijuana. Wolf’s criminal justice reforms have led to reductions in the recidivism rate. He modernized the state’s archaic liquor system. He’s grown the state’s economy by investing in infrastructure, cutting business taxes, and expanding workforce development opportunities. And he’s stood firmly against partisan efforts to weaken the hard-won rights of unions
As a labor leader, that’s music to my ears. Tom Wolf for governor. Again.
The Eagles win the Super Bowl
Philadelphia is a great sports town. We live and die with the Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers, but no other team fires up our passion and pride like the Eagles. The 2017 season has been a magic carpet ride to a stunningly successful regular season that few predicted. The loss of Carson Wentz to a season-ending knee injury was a terrible blow to the team and the city’s collective psyche, but not an end to the dream of a Lombardi Trophy. The Birds have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and are undefeated at the Linc this season. The team has survived the awful losses of Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos, and Wentz — and has just kept winning.
The Eagles need to win just two playoff games at home, in front of 65,000 rabid hometown fans, to reach the Super Bowl. It’s right there in front of us. The grit, determination and resiliency of this team are inspiring. Those attributes also describe the people of this wonderful city. Fly, Eagles, fly, on the road to victory.
End hunger in Philadelphia
I recently wrote of a partnership idea between the Philadelphia building trades and the city’s major health systems that could feed hundreds of thousands of fellow Philadelphians in need. The idea first surfaced years ago in conversations I had with officials of the Jefferson Health System. Major hospital networks like Jefferson throw away enormous amounts of nutritious, unused food every day of the week. The Philadelphia building trades have the manpower and fleet of vehicles to pick up all of the unused food and transport it daily to the city’s many homeless shelters and soup kitchens. With more buy-in among the city’s health systems and the support of local government, we can launch the program in 2018 and make serious inroads into ending hunger in Philadelphia.
May 2018 be a great year for all of us who love Philadelphia.
John J. Dougherty is business manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council.