Mayor Jim Kenney really would like to get the Sweeperheads off his case about breaking his campaign promise to bring back citywide street sweeping, and in his budget address this week, he committed another $2.3 million to increase sweeping service. That earned Kenney some glowing headlines, but reading deeper into the Mayor's plan, it's clear it's not time to put the pitchforks down yet.
(Street sweeping in Olney | Photo credit: Philly.com)
Have you ever read one of those heartwarming stories about thousands of kind people on social media raising $100,000 through a GoFundMe page for a stranger's medical treatment, only to despair at what that says about the wider inhumanity of health care policy in the United States? That's the same feeling I got reading this story from Billy Penn's Michaela Winberg about two Germantown non-profits raising money from their neighbors to buy a trash truck and bootstrap their own miniature Streets Department.Read more
Ryan Briggs and Aaron Moselle report that Mayor Kenney plans to pilot a version of a street sweeping program in six neighborhoods that will avoid asking anyone to move their cars by instead hiring people to blow all the curbside trash into the middle of the street and sweeping it up there.
(Photo: Bella Vista Neighbors Association)
This morning on Radio Times, Mayor Kenney's Litter Czar Nic Esposito announced that the administration is looking at a "possible pilot program" for street sweeping, to potentially, maybe, be rolled out sometime this spring right before the primary.Read more
(Image: Phila. Dept of Public Records, via Billy Penn)
Many people find it perplexing why Philadelphia is still the only large U.S. city without a municipal street sweeping program, but in an interview with WHYY this week, Mayor Jim Kenney spelled it out more clearly than he ever has: he's terrified of confronting the city's parking entitlement crisis and won't spend any political capital pressing the issue.Read more
The City released the results of the first resident survey conducted in almost 10 years this week, and streets, sanitation, and public safety were far and away the top services respondents were concerned about.Read more
During the 2015 Mayoral primary, candidate Jim Kenney promised to bring back citywide street-sweeping services in Philadelphia. But now that he's Mayor, Kenney is trying to punt on the issue indefinitely.Read more
Sign our petition to tell Mayor Kenney to keep his campaign promise, and bring back street-sweeping services before the end of his first term.
Philadelphia is known nationwide as an exceptionally dirty city, and this dirt problem even has a name: Filthadelphia.
Mayor Kenney campaigned on changing this during the 2015 campaign, and restoring the street-sweeping program was a regular part of his stump speech. He even said that cleaner streets are worth the occasional hassle of alternate-side parking.
The red flags started going up right after the May primary, when Kenney started backtracking, saying he'd only bring the program back for neighborhoods willing to move their cars, and there would be some kind of opt-in or opt-out provision.
This week we found out it's been cast aside even further, as a "Long-Term Priority" in the Zero Waste Action Plan released this week, described in the most non-committal possible language. At some undefined point in time, the administration will maybe "consider restoration of street sweeping."
That's unacceptable. Mayor Kenney needs to make restoring street-sweeping a priority in his first term.
As we've argued previously, street-sweeping should be one of Philadelphia's bedrock municipal services. Philly was actually the first city to have a street-sweeping program (thanks, Benjamin Franklin!), and now we're the only major city that doesn't have one. It's relatively cheap, costing the capital budget just $18 million in to buy the sweepers, and about $3 million in annual salaries to clean the whole city every other week. The problem isn't money—it's people who don't want to move their cars, even occasionally.
The Mayor is already on the record saying that he wants to take the cleaner streets side of that trade-off, and now it's time for him to make good on that promise.
Sign and share the petition, and help us send a message to Mayor Kenney that he needs to put clean streets first, and be accountable for what he promised the voters.