Wednesday, October 6, 2010

John Featherman's Case for a Republican Mayor

John Featherman makes it today in the Daily News. I've previously expressed skepticism that the GOP -- which culturally seems to favor rural areas, and philosophically seems ill-suited to providing the kinds of services that a big city needs just to hang together -- is really equipped to provide municipal leadership here. But it would probably prove useful if Democrats actually had competition for city leadership.

The problem is that John Featherman -- who actually has filed papers to run as a Republican candidate for mayor -- doesn't seem to offer much in the way of competition. Most of his solutions sound familiar: Cut business taxes! Really crack down on corruption! The only problem is, we hear those kinds of promises fairly often from our politicians -- Mayor Nutter said those things when he was a candidate. Why would Featherman or any other Republican be better-positioned to make those things happen?

Featherman gets intriguing, though, with this proposal:

MAKE REAL BUDGET CUTS! Government should stick to what it does best and consider outsourcing everything else. This means bidding out trash, call centers, prisons and administrative services, among others. This means cutting wasteful government jobs, with the mayor focusing exclusively on the needs of our 1.5 million residents. And having the political courage to negotiate the three unresolved municipal contracts and fight for fair concessions - in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie-like style.

This raises a couple of questions:

* What does municipal government "do best" according to Featherman? After all, his "everything else" seems to cover a pretty wide range of necessary services.

* What does Featherman actually propose to cut? He doesn't actually name a single program or job that needs to go.

Maybe these are questions for which Featherman actually has answers. It's not easy to lay out a detailed governing platform in an 800-word op-ed, after all. Here's the problem, though: John Featherman is running for mayor, and today's piece certainly signals that the campaign has opened. But he has no online presence for his campaign that I can find -- not even a Blogger blog. It's to believe that Republicans are ready to govern Philadelphia if they're not even ready to made the case.

1 comment:

John Featherman said...


Thanks for your write-up. I welcome the opportunity to address all of your questions.

First, I appreciate that the Daily News gave me the opportunity to express my views on Nutter as well as generally introduce my campaign to the voters of Philadelphia.

Second, you are correct. With 800 words, I can't offer the level of specificity that you and others need to make an educated judgment about my qualifications for becoming the next mayor. I am more than delighted to get as specific as you like. If you send me questions, I will answer them thoroughly. As an example, when I ran for public office before, I answered quite candidly many bloggers' intriguing questions. One such interview was with "Above Average Jane," and can be seen here:

Third, what government does best is govern! That may seem tautological, but it makes sense if you think about it. Government is best at creating tax policies, job initiatives, creating regulations, enforcing zoning issues, etc. Government is best at administering public policy. A concrete example is government deciding to tax people for trash pickup. That is fine, and that is governing. Actually picking up the trash is something that Philadelphia's government is not good at, as evidenced by the need for neighborhood associations to raise money to hire people to clean their streets. So, with respect to trash, Philadelphia "governs" by taxing for the pickup, but would be best suited to "bid out" trash collection to private agencies that do it better and cheaper than the city can ... in such a way that the City can shift the burden of trash worker's pensions to the private sector.

That's an example. There are many more. I'm not suggesting we run a city like a business. I'm suggesting we run a city professionally, farming out items that will allow us to cut out pensions and benefits from our budget. We do not have a choice, as this city is on the cusp of bankrupcy. Don't believe me? Just Google "Harrisburg bankruptcy" and see how they are about to declare Act 47.

As for the online presence, will be up by this Friday, October 8th. It won't be a fancy site. I just purchased a license to se "Website Tonight" from, and I'll be managing it myself.

It's not easy, Joel, as I don't have the luxury of being able to campaign on taxpayer dollars. I'm a full time Realtor, and I have to pay the bills at the same time that I'm launching the campaign. I'm going to have to continue showing properties during the day to make a living, but I'm going to devote the rest of my free time to campaigning in a meaningful way.

I don't have the bank accounts that Tom Knox, Sam Katz or Michael Nutter have. If people want to handicap me as a long shot because I'm not a fat cat, so be it. At least they won't be able to claim that I'm such rich egomaniac who is buying a seat.

But please give me consideration. That's all I ask. I'm trying to reform the Philadelphia City Committee -- of which I've been a critic of their ineffectiveness (you can Google that) -- at the same time that I'm attempting to generate constructive ideas to positively turn our city around.

So please be open minded. Be as critical as you like, but keep in consideration that I'm just like you and many others -- an average person who's fed up, who has the courage (to some, perhaps foolishness) to put his name on the line, and who will be a punching bag for a lot of folks.

-John Featherman