Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Emperor has no Clothes

Mark Allen Hughes from Penn has an op/ed about the Street Administration’s NTI program in today’s Daily News (see story). Mr. Hughes says that “NTI was a pile of money, and its only strategic imperative was to be spent. Without a core strategy, NTI was little more than a story told by the [M]ayor about the effects of absentee landlords and boarded-up windows.” Mr. Hughes notes that - according to the fifth-year budget for NTI - the program will have incurred $300 million in new debt and have knocked down less than half of the collapsing houses in Philadelphia, not exactly stellar performance with regard to one of the program’s main goals. I remember being at a “kaffee klatch” (at Babette Joseph’s house) for Mayor Street when he was running for the office in the 1999 Democratic primary. Mr. Street discussed the NTI concept then and I was struck by how half-baked the idea sounded coming from somebody who’d been in City Council for nearly twenty years representing a largely blighted area. He didn’t seem to have an informed vision/plan for advancing a structured anti-blight program, just – as Mr. Hughes points out – a pile of money that needed to be spent and an election that needed to be won.


Anonymous said...

what pisses me off is that the Street staffers and apologists dismiss Hughes as just a racist with an agenda. but far from it - Hughes is attacking Street from the left, and actually arguing that the money should have all been spent in North Philly. I don't necessarily agree, but its an interesting argument that deserves discussion on its merits.

Anonymous said...

That's a nice argument for an academic to make, but here in the real world, there's no way that 17 City Council members would vote to dedicate all those resources to one Council district. An evaluation of the Street NTI plan (developed with the Reinvestment Fund and other leading community development and housing organizations) is inevitably muddied once all the little piggies got their fingers in.

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