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Faye Anderson's Public Comments on Philly's School to Prison Pipeline Bill


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Faye Anderson's Public Comments on Philly's School to Prison Pipeline Bill

  1. 1. Philadelphia, May 21, 2015—Tracking Change Founder Faye Anderson made the following public comments regarding Bill No. 150406 before City Council: Good morning. My name is Faye Anderson. I’m a lifelong activist and public policy consultant. Today I’m speaking in my capacity as a citizen journalist who uses open data to promote accountability and transparency. I’m here to express my outrage that City Council would consider authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to spend a dime, let alone up to $7.26 million, to purchase land on which to build a new prison. A prison that would cost between $300 million and $500 million. A prison that is opposed by the next mayor, Jim Kenney. On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Planning Commission voted to disapprove Bill No. 150406, better known as the School to Prison Pipeline bill. The Commissioners rejected the staff recommendation to move forward with the land purchase. It was reported they questioned whether a prison was the best use of waterfront property. My question is: What are you thinking? The School District has an $85 million deficit and Council is considering a bill that would give millions of taxpayers’ money to a shadowy Delaware corporation with a New York City mailing address and no presence in Philadelphia. Why waste millions of dollars to acquire land that will remain vacant? Philadelphia is experiencing a construction boom, but the property at 7777 State Road is a bust. The property has been entangled in a web of lawsuits dating back to 2007. Indeed, 7777 Philadelphia Loan Associates got control of the 58 acres in a closed-market sale after the previous owner defaulted on a loan. Without a land use plan, our tax dollars would be wasted paying off a private lender’s bad loan. Through open data and right to know requests, we will eventually uncover the identities of those behind the land deal, their relationships and campaign contributions. But this is what we know right now: Bill No. 150406 is a raw deal for the citizens of Philadelphia. Poll after poll shows education is the most important issue for your constituents. The message this bill sends is that Council places a higher priority on laying the groundwork for the school to prison pipeline than building a brighter future for children trapped in 100-year-old school buildings without librarians, guidance counselors, nurses or air conditioning. Our children are being set up for failure.
  2. 2. The voters spoke on Tuesday. They want a different direction for the City and City Council. They want education, not incarceration. Thank you. Contact Faye M. Anderson (215) 995-5028 @andersonatlarge