POWER has two campaigns for us to consider this Winter / Spring:
THE MAYORAL RACE
The crowded mayoral race already has 10 candidates declared; it’s rumored that others are yet to declare. As we know, the next mayor will be decided by the May primary in our heavily Democratic city.
The emerging central issue in the race so far is public safety, which is not surprising in light of the surge in gun violence that started during the pandemic. The question, however, is what kind of policy solutions will be proposed in response to the concern for public safety?
Will the only answer be “putting more police on the streets?”” “Tough on crime” solutions have left a damaging, enduring legacy, particularly for communities of color.
Can we push the conversation to talk about the wider range of policies that have a direct impact on public safety? They must include police oversight, criminal justice reform, drug legalization as well as the broader issues of schools, housing and wages, that often affect poorer people and people of color disproportionately.
There will be a city-wide Political Education, Training and Planning Session on February 28, as the first major step towards a different kind of candidate engagement in April. Instead of providing a stage for each candidates’ stump speeches, we want to know where they stand on the issues that are most important to us. We also want them to know that we will be watching them and holding them to the promises they make.
DEVELOPMENT AND SAVING CHINATOWN
The Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (APIPA) and Asian Americans United (AAU) have asked POWER for our active support helping to prevent the construction of a sports arena that will decimate what’s left of Philadelphia Chinatown. POWER has accepted their invitation to join the Save Chinatown Coalition.
The fight to save Chinatown is obviously a racial justice issue. And, the impacts of a new sports arena in Center City will affect every one of us.
Here’s why we’re getting involved, and why you should, too:
Did you know?
— A main cultural and economic hub for much of the region’s Asian-American population, Philadelphia Chinatown is a the third largest Chinatown in the country, densely packed with restaurants, markets, cafes, shops, performance spaces, and homes of Hong Kong-, Cantonese-, Fujianese-, Northern Sichuan-, Taiwanese-, Korean-, Thai-, Malaysian-, Burmese-, Vietnamese, and white-American families.
— Chinatowns like it used to grace the urban fabric of cities up and down the Eastern seaboard of the United States, but most have been displaced by new construction. Philadelphia Chinatown’s outsized importance to the city and the region are immeasurable.
— If the proposed arena is approved, Center City will be turned into a construction site for 6 years. The road closures and traffic, the toxic airborne particulate matter that will spread throughout the city, the negative economic impact on the businesses and communities in and around the proposed arena site will affect all of us.
— Even the kinds of businesses that one might imagine would benefit from the construction of a sports arena, say bars and restaurants in the neighboring vicinity, are unlikely to survive the 6 years of construction that will negatively impact their business. Studies have shown that a near identical arena project in DC’s Chinatown has economically depressed the surrounding neighborhoods. The arena isn’t good for business.
— Center City does not have sufficient hospital capacity to responsibly host a sports arena. The accidents that inevitably occur on game days or after major concerts will overstrain what’s left of the neighborhood’s health infrastructure.
— Subsidizing a privately-owned sports arena, which would be primarily owned by three billionaire investors, is not a strategic or ethical use of the city’s resources.
The Center City POWER congregations are being asked to help out, particularly with some research actions as we try and figure out how best to organize against this arena development.
Michael is talking to our leaders and we will soon call a meeting to organize how we want to be involved.