Advice for Mayor Kenney
Good morning Philadelphia, and Happy New Year. Here’s what you need to know today:
Jim Kenney becomes mayor of Philadelphia today — and he’s getting a lot of advice about what to do next.
At Philly Mag, Mustafa Rashed writes: “Kenney and his team have a significant opportunity to improve upon some of the growth of the economic policies of the last administration, while also bettering the business and commercial corridors of our neighborhoods. Balance from the start on this approach is going to be extremely important. The last three mayors have, in order, focused on the city’s downtown, the neighborhoods, and then the downtown again, as if both could not be done at the same time. Oftentimes, growth in one area was pursued at the detriment to the other.” Meanwhile, the magazine also features 48 Philadelphians telling the new mayor how he can make the city great — with ideas ranging from very big to very basic. “Fix the potholes,” one citizen says. “I keep riding in these streets, and there’s thousands of potholes.”
Drexel’s president wants other big universities to drop their football programs.
In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, Drexel’s John Fry argues that NCAA football is too expensive and distracts universities from their educational mission. Never mentioned? Temple University’s quest for a $100 million campus stadium — though Fry mentions other universities that have mired themselves in debt by building new stadiums and pursuing college football supremacy. Drexel doesn’t play that game, though. “Drexel hasn’t fielded a team since 1973 when administrators realized its budget burden,” Fry writes. “Not having a football program turns out to be a major strategic advantage for Drexel. Our student athletes in other sports win conference championships; many of our teams are nationally ranked. Our Division I athletic programs create a strong sense of pride on campus. But we focus entirely and exclusively on our mission: delivering a high-quality education for all students.”
Smile! You’re on SEPTA body camera!
NBC Philadelphia reports SEPTA police began wearing body cameras on New Year’s Day— spending more than $300,000 on cameras for the agency’s 270 officers. The agency apparently plans a news conference to discuss the matter soon. When the agency started testing the cameras in 2014, Chief Thomas Nestel told Philly Mag that he hoped the devices would lead to a drop in complaints against officers — as well as more efficient processing of cases. “I think that this would also be a tremendous tool to help us reduce court overtime,” he said, “because with audio and video evidence, offenders are going to be more likely to plead guilty and minimize the number of times that we have to send officers to court.”
Somewhere out there, a retired Atlantic City lifeguard is getting a $61,000 pension — but maybe not for much longer.
New Jersey state law requires Atlantic City and nine other coastal communities to provide lifeguard pensions — they can be collected by lifeguards over the age of 45, after 20 years of service — and AC provides annual pensions to 90 retired guards, with annual payouts ranging from $850 to $61,000. But the Press of Atlantic City reports the city’s financial woes are endangering the program. Ocean City officials are also questioning the financial burden. “At the end of the day, everyone appreciates what our lifeguards do on a daily basis,” one official says. “It’s a lot of responsibility and can be very stressful at times. But many people question whether a seasonal position should be one that carries a pension along with it.”
Will the Eagles bring a Super Bowl winner in to be the next coach?
Now that the Birds’ season is mercifully over, fans can turn their attention to what’s really important: Next season. First order of business: Finding a new coach. Birds 24/7 reports the team has its eye on Sean Payton — the winning coach in Super Bowl XLIV — who seems ready to make an exit from his job in New Orleans. Other names in the hopper: Duce Staley, Pat Shurmur, and Adam Gase. Josh Paunil writes: “It’s reasonable to expect a decision within the next couple of weeks.”