Chester, PA − Shep Garner, Chairman of the Chester Republican Party released the following response to Mayor John Linder’s recent State of the City Address:
“Mayor John Linder recently gave his second “State of the City” address at Widener University where he repeatedly stated that the city is in a “better place” than when he took office over 15 months ago. I had the opportunity to attend this event and I waited with great anticipation for the details and examples on how Chester has become such a “better place” under Mayor Linder’s administration. Unfortunately, his address was regrettably short of any real specifics of how Chester was “better” under his administration’s watch and it left me with more questions than answers.
How is Chester “better”, Mayor Linder? Is the City government “better” financially? Throughout your first year in office, I’ve heard you say publicly that the previous administration left the city broke. Really? As a former member of Council and part of the previous administration that you so often reference, it is an injustice for you and those around you to consistently mislead the public by blaming the previous administration for the obvious shortcomings and lack of results your administration has had since you took office. I would suggest that if you simply looked at the City’s bank statements from December of 2011, the previous administration left the city and your administration with nearly $5 million dollars cash on hand. Is that your definition of leaving the City broke? Mr. Mayor, can you share with me and the public how much was in the city’s bank accounts at the end of your first year in office? I have a suspicion that it was likely less than the $5 million in cash you had on hand when you started your term as Mayor. Is the City really a “better place” financially after your first year in office?
Is Chester a “better place” when it comes to crime after your first 15 months in office? You made public safety a centerpiece of your campaign, yet the homicide rate in your first year in office actually increased by nearly 10%. You said in your address that “people do feel safer” in the City under your watch. Once again, really? We must be talking to different people in the community, but I think if you would honestly ask most residents of the City, they certainly wouldn’t agree that they feel any safer under your administration. In fact, your constant shake up of personnel in the police department and the resulting lawsuits and discord between you and your colleagues on City Council doesn’t really give the public a sense of comfort that your administration is capable of effectively dealing with such complex issues as crime. How can you do an effective job in fighting crime when it seems like you and your colleagues on Council spend more time fighting each other?
Is Chester a “better place” in terms of business and economic development after your first 15 months in office? You talked about the importance of a port in last year’s State of the City address as critical to the city’s revitalization efforts. You mentioned it again this year, but you gave absolutely no specifics or details as to what tangible steps you’ve taken in moving that project forward over the last year. It’s easy to talk about grand ideas, but implementing any project is the hard part. They say talk is cheap, but what’s not cheap is a port that your administration says will cost somewhere in the range of $200-$400 million. With the chaos and disorder coming out of City Hall now and over the last year, do you honestly think anyone in the public or private sector will show any willingness or desire to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the City of Chester?
Mayor Linder, just SAYING that the City of Chester is a “better place” doesn’t actually make the city a “better place”. It takes a dedicated team of knowledgeable and experienced people all working in partnership with a common goal and vision in mind in order to make real progress and achieve great things. The previous administration had that and I believe it is evident to most people who pay attention that progress has been woefully lacking over the last 15 months. LET’S GET BACK TO PROGRESS and move our residents and community forward!”
Based on Mr. Garner's comment on how 'regrettably short of any real specifics...' , maybe I didn't miss much by not seeing the entire State of the City.
I'd be interested in hearing the response to the 'broke vs $5 million in the bank' statement.
I still don't think all the responsibility of fighting crime falls in the political realm. With the resources the city has available, I can't see how comparing crime stats between administrations amount to anything. However, we rarely get to see real crime stats other than shootings and murders. Can good police work reduce burglaries, robberies, sex crimes, and increase convictions? Can good police work improve the quality of life in Chester?
I think most people share in the opinion that - 'How can you do an effective job in fighting crime when it seems like you and your colleagues on Council spend more time fighting each other?' Until they learn to settle their differences behind closed doors, that opinion will be hard to shake.
Like Garner, I wonder how this port thing will work out. Personally, I wonder what the options are for riverfront utilization. What project brings the biggest buck, the least damaging, the most sustainable, the most likely to succeed which can be implemented quickly?
'It takes a dedicated team of knowledgeable and experienced people all working in partnership with a common goal and vision in mind in order to make real progress and achieve great things', says Garner. I agree with him that the current administration still has a ways to go show us they can achieve this.