With a call to address “unspeakable” gun violence afflicting the city and fight against deep racial and economic inequalities, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney was sworn into office Monday morning for his second term at the newly-renovated The Met in North Philadelphia where he promised to bring back street cleaning at the end of his four-year term and to improve other city services.
Kenney spoke of longstanding goals such as restoring the pace of paving the streets to pre-recession levels, but his discourse was mainly focused on the life-or-death issue of gun violence, which is one of the most serious problems in the city.
A recent event was cited to illustrate the magnitude and impact of this serious situation. “These young people, like little Nikolette Rivera who was murdered in her living room this past October, as she was held in her mother’s arms, will never meet their potential, a loss that impacts all of us in this room, and every single Philadelphian.”
You can read: Philly Mayor Jim Kenney condemns blackface Mummers
In order to achieve his goal, the sworn Mayor will use a public health approach to gun violence which will include hotspot policing to drive services to areas where they are needed most and hiring outreach workers with local credibility to de-escalate neighborhood conflicts.
Kenney’s recently appointed police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, the first African- American woman to lead the department, plays a key role in the Mayor’s plan.
How to do it
“Along with our new Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, we will transform community relations and make the reforms necessary to restore trust and accountability between the department and residents , especially in Black and Brown communities,” he said.
Mayor Kenney is going to sign an executive order to require racial equity training for all city departments that will require city departments to design a Racial Equity Plan, with detailed lines in how their hiring practices departmental functioning can address long-standing racial disparities.
“We plan to look at every policy and program through a racial equity lens so we can better address the racial disparities that have plagued communities of color for far too long,” Kenney said.
A second executive order signed Monday will create a new Office of Children and Families in the Mayor’s cabinet. The change will concentrate the Department of Human Services in the same portfolio as the city’s pre-K program and several other youth-oriented programs funded by money from the city’s tax on sweetened beverages.
Another change coming to city government in the second term will be to improve “customer service” for residents, while also reducing fines and fees.
Concerning climate-related actions, Kenney committed to a variety of climate-related actions, including a study of how Philadelphia Gas Works can function in a low carbon future and cutting the ribbon “on a 70MW solar facility provide 22% of the municipal electric load.”
The Kenny administration is also committing to hire a Chief Resilience Officer, whose job will be to integrate climate adaptation into all city departments and operations.
The achievement of these important goals, however, will depend not only on the Mayor´s will of consolidating a robust and fruitful job on this second term but also on the fluctuations of the national economy and of budget negotiations with City Council.