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Will the $750M Hydrogen Hub Fight Crime? Experts Say That’s a Stretch

Does poverty cause crime? Do more jobs mean fewer criminals?

That was one of the messages from Pennsylvania Democrats at the announcement of the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2) in Philadelphia last week. It will cost taxpayers $750 million in federal investments. Gov. Josh Shapiro touted the 20,000 jobs projected to be created, as did fellow Democrat Mayor Jim Kenney.

“This is about public safety,” Kenney said of the MACH2 project, arguing that young men who are currently involved in gun crime and “nonsense” will get jobs that will keep them out of trouble.

“These young boys out there who are in nonsense. Who are holding guns and shooting each other,” Kenney said. “They don’t need to do that when they’re making $80-90k a year. There’s no need for that. They get up and go to work, put on their work boots or whatever they wear to work, and go to work early in the morning.”

Shapiro agreed. “He is spot on. It means real opportunity for the kid living here in North Philly who maybe doesn’t want to go to college but wants to get to work. Wants to be able to get out of the cycle of violence that has gripped some in his neighborhood.”

But does growing up poor make people more likely to commit crimes? Do low-income families also have lower standards of moral and ethical behavior? It is an argument some advocates for the poor find demeaning. It also doesn’t appear to match the data.

Overall, the national average official poverty rate fell from 14.8 percent in 2009-2011 to 11.2 percent in 2019-2021, the Census Bureau reports. But the nation’s crime rate rose by about 40 percent over that same period.

“In our political discourse, for more than a generation, we’ve had this idea that poor people are sinners,” said the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, an ordained Presbyterian minister who co-chairs the Poor People’s Campaign.

That has Heather Mac Donald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, suggesting Kenney is misleading the public.

In his comments, Kenney said jobs would help reduce crime because “kids see them going to work early in the morning is the best example you could ever give to a young person. To see their mom and dad get up and go out to work and not have to be involved in dangerous nonsense.”

Mac Donald said Kenney had the social science half right.

“He is correct that children raised by their two parents are far less likely to take up the gangbanging life,” Mac Donald told DV Journal. “He is also correct that a family where the parents work provides an essential model of bourgeois values and self-discipline.

“Mayor Kenny is wrong, however, that there is any necessity, economic or otherwise, that drives the perpetrators of drive-by shootings. The thugs who are wantonly spraying bullets across sidewalks and into cars and homes are not doing so because they have no food on the table.”

Mac Donald sees gang warfare as a “result of a lack of socialization” as opposed to a lack of jobs and that no one “who has a smartphone” lacks economic opportunity. She also takes umbrage at the notion that two-parent households with working parents have to earn $80,000 a year to feel the positive impacts of work and family cohesion.

“It is the discipline of work itself, not the salary level, that is essential to the socialization process.”

Justice reform advocates disagree with Mac Donald but suggest Kenney was speaking too broadly.

“What we do know is that education and jobs reduce recidivism, but that’s also easier said than done,” said Jason Pye, Director of Rule of Law Initiatives at the Due Process Institute. Pye said there is limited data on the issue. “Many employers won’t entertain hiring someone with a criminal record, so record-sealing and expungement become important…Reducing recidivism increases public safety.”

There is evidence that this tactic might work. Michigan passed its clean slate law in 2020. Pye said only 4.2 percent of those who got their records cleared committed another crime. Less than one percent were convicted of violent crimes. Other states might see similar numbers.

The Manhattan Institute argues otherwise. It cites a 2022 Columbia University research paper on poverty in New York City, and New York Police arrest data. Specifically, it noted that 23 percent of Asians in New York City had incomes below the poverty level, but they also had a low murder arrest rate, as proof there isn’t a cause-effect relationship between being poor and being a criminal.

And then there is the pragmatic question of who will get these jobs.

The Biden administration announced that union-mandate Project Labor Agreements will cover all of the projects in the MACH2 hub. According to Shapiro, that means “14,400 in construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs for skilled, union laborers, including plumbers, pipefitters, electricians, and more.” They will be working on solar farms, wind tower installation, and power transmission.

But how many of those “skilled union jobs” that will be paid for by the $750 million in federal spending are likely to go to the young people in low-income communities Kenney is talking about?

The hydrogen hub may or may not be the right way to fight climate change. But there is little evidence that fighting crime is the right way.

PA Gov. Shapiro to Declare I-95 Road Collapse a Disaster

Many DelVal residents, especially Bucks County residents, will be looking for other ways to get to work in Philadelphia with the sudden closure Sunday of I-95 after a fire caused the northbound lanes to collapse near the Cottman Avenue exit.

The interstate is a major north-south link for the East Coast.

A tanker carrying a petroleum product caught on fire on Princeton Avenue underneath the highway around 6:20 a.m., officials said. About 160,000 vehicles travel I-95 daily through Philadelphia, said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. Vehicles will be detouring around the collapse, which has the highway closed in both directions.

Gov. Josh Shapiro held a press conference Sunday and said he will be declaring a disaster so that federal funds will be freed up to rebuild the highway and expedite the reconstruction process.

At least one vehicle was still trapped underneath the collapsed roadway, he said.

“Preliminary reports indicate that a commercial truck carrying a petroleum-based product was the source of the fire,” said Shapiro. “We’re still working to identify any individual or individuals who may have been caught in the fire and the collapse.”

Both the state police and Philadelphia police have been diverting traffic around the area, he said. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) has also been on site, coordinating response efforts. Also, the Department of Environmental Protection has been coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Philadelphia Water Department doing environmental assessments, Shapiro said.

The intense fire damaged the southbound side of the highway and engineers determined it was not structurally sound. They are also looking for interim solutions, Shapiro said.

A complete rebuild will take “some number of months,” said Shapiro. Ironically, this section of the interstate only reopened not long ago after major reconstruction for a new Cottman Avenue off-ramp.

Shapiro spoke with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bob Casey Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) and other federal officials.

“Secretary Buttigieg has assured me that there will be absolutely no delay in getting federal funds deployed to quickly help us rebuild this critical artery,” said Shapiro.

Shapiro said it will be “all hands on deck to repair this as safely and efficiently as possible.”

Bucks County resident Paul Martino, who owns Bankroll, a new sports bar in Center City Philadelphia, said, “I am out of town right now, but I am sure it will be a mess.”

Amanda Cortes, a Fairless Hills resident who teaches first grade at Lawton Elementary in Philadelphia is glad there are only two more days until the summer break because she’ll be taking alternate routes and she’s sure traffic will be bad.

“It’s just going to be extra traffic, I assume, with the closure and everything,” said Cortes. She does not think they’ll have the highway open when the new school year starts in September.

“I doubt it,” said Cortes. “I’m already anticipating the beginning of the school year to continue taking the detour because I can’t see it getting fixed that quickly.”

Maryann Brown, a pharmacist who lives in Warminster and works at a pharmacy in northeast Philadelphia, said, “All the back roads like State Road and Frankfort Avenue will be busy. People now will have to take the train or leave early for work. The pharmacy’s delivery service will be affected. With prices going up and gas going up, stress will increase.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told people to plan alternate routes.

“City agencies are working with our state partners to respond to the partial collapse of I-95 from a vehicle fire. Please avoid the area and plan for alternative routes of travel. We will continue to provide updates on this incident,” said Kenney. “I want to thank our first responders, PennDOT, SEPTA, and all our state and local partners for your continued response to this incident. And thank you, Gov. Shapiro, for coming to Philadelphia and for your continued support. Coordination between state, city agencies, and elected officials, has been, and will continue to be essential to our emergency response effort as well as with recovery and reconstruction.”

PennDOT has detour routes in place in the area:

I-95 Southbound: Route 63 West (Woodhaven Road), U.S. 1 South, 76 East, 676 East and I-95 Northbound: I-676 West, I-76 West, U.S. 1 North to Route 63 East (Woodhaven Road), as well as other information.

Bus routes in that area will also be impacted.

“This emergency has created a tremendous challenge for our transportation network. SEPTA is committed to working with the city and the state to help our residents get through this,” said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards. “We are working hard to ensure that SEPTA is providing reliable service on Regional Rail, the Market-Frankford Line, buses and other transit services. We will monitor service and make adjustments as we move forward, so please check for the latest updates at and @SEPTA.”

GIORDANO: Slivers of Hope for Philly Politics

I promise this column will offer slivers of hope for the future of the city of Philadelphia.

For example, the crop of candidates to be the city’s next mayor will almost certainly be better than Mayor Jim Kenney. And the police commissioner that new mayor appoints is all but a lock to be better than current Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. That’s the good news.

The challenge is getting to that election and limiting the damage of the current administration. I’ve learned that groups similar to the marauders who recently took over Wildwood, N.J. — perhaps even connected to them — are headed here this weekend. Those thugs, in the course of their lawlessness, drag racing, and violence left two dead and many injured in their wake. Now sources say they are on the Philadelphia Police Department’s radar and the cops are so concerned they’re extending hours for those on duty and calling up more officers.

Their job wasn’t made any easier by the new law, authored by Philadelphia City Councilman Isiah Thomas, which greatly limits the reasons Philadelphia police can stop vehicles for violations. Thomas pushed the bill because he believes many police engage in racial profiling in stopping motorists. Some cops fear the gangs that may be flooding into Philadelphia this weekend are aware of this change and are ready to exploit it.

This is the current situation Philadelphia has backed itself into. But there is another silver of hope. The situation has gotten so bad that I’m told several influential people in Philadelphia are gearing up to push a plan similar to the one Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer and local police have put into action to greatly reduce violence in the city of Chester. That plan targets those who are in groups that are likely to shoot someone or be shot by someone and offers them programs to help give them decent jobs and change their lives. Otherwise, they will be at the center of the law enforcement radar whenever violence happens. The influential group in Philadelphia will demand that candidates for mayor sign off on instituting the Chester plan in Philadelphia or suffer united opposition.

I have interviewed most of the likely candidates for mayor and think they would sign off on a Chester plan. Candidates like former Councilpersons Cherelle Parker, Derek Green, and Alan Domb would institute a plan like Chester’s and I think if supermarket magnate Jeff Brown runs, he would, too.

The one candidate who would not sign off is Councilperson Helen Gym. I believe she is going to run. I know she is as far left as Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. She is a hardcore opponent of charter schools and gun rights. And she is a harsh critic of the police. If she wins, I’m convinced Philadelphia will be more lawless than it is now.

Which is why I’m optimistic, after speaking with some powerful liberal groups, that there is widespread support for a system like Chester’s, and the need to confront our crime issue in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, if Larry Krasner is still the D.A. it won’t make much difference what approach the city takes if he’s putting his progressive politics ahead of public safety. Let’s hope the state legislature solves that problem for us.

And speaking (again) of hope, I’m hopeful for the future because, during a recent interview on my radio show, Republican Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh told me if he sees a path to victory, he may give up his seat and run for mayor. He would do a great job.

So, let’s hope that this coming weekend the Philadelphia police can protect citizens and the green shoots of hope for our city will continue to grow.

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Kenney’s Complaints About Job, Second Amendment Spark Backlash

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney wants to live in an America without the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, he even has a name for this place. “Canada.”

Kenney made his comments to reporters on July 4th after two police officers were struck by gunfire at the Wawa Welcome America Concert on the Parkway.

“It was a chilled-back day, beautiful weather. But we live in America where we have the Second Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling everybody they can carry a gun wherever they want,” the mayor said. “I was in Canada two weeks ago and never thought about a gun. The only people I knew who had guns in Canada were police officers.”

Kenney added, “If I had the ability to take care of guns, I would. But the legislature won’t let us. Congress won’t let us. The governor does the best he can. The attorney general does the best he can. But this is a gun country.”

In the same conversation, Kenney also complained about his job and said he will be “happy” when he is no longer mayor

“There’s not an event or a day where I don’t lay on my back and look at the ceiling and worry about stuff,” he said. “So everything we have in the city for the last seven years, I worry about. I don’t enjoy the 4th of July. I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t enjoy the NFL draft. I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not mayor and I can enjoy some stuff.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, called on Kenney to “immediately resign.”

“Mayor Kenney should resign from office. Kenney’s comments about how he will be happy when he is no longer mayor further indicate he has given up on Philadelphia. John Fetterman, Larry Krasner, and Jim Kenney all support the failed policies that coddle criminals, provide sanctuary to dangerous illegal aliens and put dangerous criminals back out on the street. These radical far-left policies have led to record-breaking homicides and unprecedented rates of violent crime in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth. Worse still, Fetterman would go further by releasing one-third of all criminals and reducing sentences for murderers. We need to restore safety and security to Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania–it begins by getting rid of Kenney, Krasner, and Fetterman.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is the Democratic candidate for the Senate. He did not directly address Kenney’s remarks or Oz’s rebuke. Instead, he railed against “gun violence” on Twitter and called for an end to the Senate filibuster.

“There is a sad irony in experiencing multiple mass shootings on a day meant to celebrate our freedom. We wish the law enforcement officers injured in the Philly shooting a safe + quick recovery,” Fetterman tweeted.

“We cannot become numb to ever-increasing gun violence. Washington needs to act + take on the NRA by prosecuting gun dealers whose weapons routinely wind up at crime scenes. And Democrats in the Senate need to scrap the filibuster + immediately pass common-sense reform,” said Fetterman.

Kenney’s attack on the Second Amendment drew responses from residents of the Delaware Valley.

“I saw a movie about a country where only the police and military had guns. It was called ‘Schindler’s List,’” said Wayne resident and firearms instructor Frank Tait.

“His failure to put competent leadership in the Philly Police Department. And to have a progressive DA only exasperated this crime problem,” said a Radnor resident who collects antique firearms. “Revolving door justice and letting repeat offenders of serious crimes out on no bail is a joke. Only when the Feds stepped into the car carjacking crimes have strong sentences been imposed. But Philly people get what they vote for. When you have an 18 percent turnout in a primary (in the DA’s race), that speaks volumes. Maybe he’d be better off in Canada?”

Kim Stolfer, president of Firearm Owners Against Crime,  was unimpressed by Kenney’s comments. “Well, thankfully, it isn’t up to him. And thankfully, he owns all the violence that’s in Philadelphia.

“The fact is, this is part of the broad brush that is being used by Democrats to paint 100 million gun owners in this country for a dozen mass murders,” Stolfer added.

The Republican nominee for Congress in the 4th District, Christian Nascimento, also called on Kenney to resign.

“Jim Kenney has given up on stopping crime. He has given up on Philadelphia. He has given up on police and their families. Today I call on Mayor Kenney to resign his seat as Philadelphia mayor. And if Congresswoman (Madeleine) Dean has a shred of integrity and even the smallest amount of concern and support for police and for the safety of district families, she will join me in calling for Kenney’s immediate resignation today.”

Attorney General  Josh Shapiro, the Democrat running for governor, said he would protect Second Amendment rights.

“I’ll be a strong defender of Second Amendment rights and a strong defender of making sure law-abiding citizens have the ability to bear arms. But we must make sure that those who are criminals — those who shouldn’t have access to guns — can’t get them,” Shapiro told 6 News.

By Tuesday afternoon, Kenney had apologized for his comments about no longer wanting to be mayor. “I apologize for being frustrated, but I do take my job personally and I take the problems we face personally,” he said. “And I apologize for wearing my emotions on my sleeve.”

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FLOWERS: Philly’s Mayor Looks Forward to Leaving Mess He Created

Everyone has those days when you wake up, look at the ceiling, and want to stay in bed until the moon rises in the evening sky. Most of us, however, are not the chief executives of major American cities, like the Hon. James Kenney, mayor of the city where America was born. Philadelphia’s leader has very publicly, albeit poignantly, made clear his desire to slump back into a private life he never actually had.

For most of his 60-plus years on this earth, Kenney has been in the public eye or on the public dole. He started his political life as an assistant to former state Sen. Vince Fumo, who essentially made his career possible. Patronage from the powerful Fumo helped Kenney snag a seat on Philadelphia City Council, where he remained for 23 years, from 1992 until 2015, when he resigned to run for mayor. He won that bid and is now well into his second term. He will wave a fond farewell (and being from Philly, likely a middle finger) in January 2024.

But over the weekend, he revealed to a reporter that he would prefer to be making his swan song much sooner. Commenting on the July 4th shooting of two police officers near the Art Museum during the holiday festivities, Kenney stated that “I don’t enjoy the Fourth of July, I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention, I didn’t enjoy the NFL Draft-I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here – when I’m not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff.”

I am quite sure he did not grasp the tone-deafness of the phrase “and I can enjoy some stuff” hours after two police officers had been shot and were recovering in the hospital. Jim Kenney is many things, but he is not a cruel man. It’s likely he is so frustrated with the fruits of his own incompetence (and the actual malfeasance of others, like his District Attorney Larry Krasner) that he doesn’t realize how bad he looks when he ventures, infrequently, before the glare of the cameras.

Lately, it seems he has simply chosen to hide behind the doors of his office or the layers of Gen X and Gen Z “assistants” who have taken over his social media to tweet inane, feel-good comments about everything from rainbows during Pride Month to how fabulously he tried to erase the legacy of his most illustrious predecessor, Frank Rizzo. (Note to Kenney: Removing a statue does not remove stature).

But to those who actually heard the mayor say he wanted out of this job, it was a slap in the face. We, who are forced to live with the consequences of his acts and omissions, do not have the luxury of retiring from this city. True, we can choose to move elsewhere and abandon the place that provided generations of our families with joy and warm memories. Still, not everyone can afford to switch ZIP codes as easily as Jim Kenney slips out of state to Maryland crab shacks.

Of course, Kenney doesn’t take any responsibility for the mess he has made of the city. His fingers are pointed elsewhere, at the Republicans who have absolutely no control in the city, and who are not currently in charge of either Congress or the White House. Right before mentioning that he wanted to retire, he made this observation about the weekend:

“The weather was beautiful, the concert was beautiful, but we live in America and we have the Second Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling everybody they can carry a gun wherever they want.”

So, it’s not the district attorney refusing to prosecute gun crimes in the city. It’s the Founders and the inconvenient Second Amendment. And it’s not the thugs shooting at police officers and terrorizing civilians. It’s that ‘Republican’ U.S. Supreme Court misinterpreting the aforesaid inconvenient Second Amendment.

Given the fact that Jim Kenney has such an inability to admit that so many of the problems in the city are directly attributable to his lack of leadership, it actually might be a good idea for him to get an AARP subscription and buy a timeshare in Florida (if he could stand living in a state with a competent chief executive)

Now let’s see if we can convince Krasner to do the same.

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Philly Officials Draw Ire for Participating in Pro-PLO Event

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney joined members of the City Council, state Sen. Nikil Saval, and state Rep. Danilo Burgos last week to stand beneath Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) flags in celebration of the United Nations international day of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Prior to the rally, which took place on the first day of Chanukah, the Israeli consulate in New York sent Kenney a letter asking him not to attend.

“The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America views it as reprehensible that some Philadelphia politicians sought to undermine the Jewish community earlier this week by participating in an event that garnered support for a movement that is designed to destroy the only Jewish state, Israel. It is reprehensible that the city would host such an official event and shocking and disgraceful that officials who represent all Philadelphians would attend it and participate in it,” the ZOA said in a press release.

Over the years, the PLO, a terrorist organization, has murdered thousands of Israeli Jews and scores of Americans, said Steve Feldman executive director of the ZOA’s Greater Philadelphia Chapter.

“Why any of these individuals would want to support a movement or a cause that has one of its outcomes and agendas to harm another people is troubling?” Feldman asked.

Some are Democratic Socialists whose party is anti-Israel and supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. There are also PLO members who use the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Other participants, who are traditional Democrats, might not be aware of the implications.

Burgos counted himself in the latter camp. He said he thought he was just supporting the “Palestinian community here in Philadelphia,” he explained when asked why he participated in the event.

Kenney did not reply to a request for comment from the Delaware Valley Journal. However, he told the Forward that Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) and the Office of City Representative (OCR) have been in discussions with representatives of the local Palestinian community to host an event that recognizes their contributions to the city and region. The Palestinian Day of Solidarity resulted from those conversations and is not a statement on international affairs or the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

“I participated in the event as I have done for countless events recognizing our ethnically and religiously diverse communities,” the mayor said, pointing out that he also attended an event on antisemitism.

Saval, and council members Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, and Maria Quinoñes Sanchez also declined to respond when contacted by Delaware Valley Journal.

A reporter at the event tweeted that Saval, while speaking at the podium, referenced a “right of return” of Palestinian-Arabs to Israel — which Feldman described as a known demographic ploy to destroy Israel. Saval also mentioned the “occupation” of Palestine, a “demonstrably false canard,” said Feldman. And Saval quoted a poem by Mahmoud Darwish (who was a member of the PLO), and then called out: “Free Palestine.”

“There never was an Arab nor Muslim state in the region called Palestine prior to the amputation of 78 percent of the designated Jewish homeland to create the nation of Jordan,” the ZOA release said.

Gauthier tweeted, “We stand with our Palestinian neighbors. We see you, we value you, and we empathize with your struggle — to resist occupation and oppression, & to be recognized as a people.”

Brooks tweeted, “Today we recognize that our struggles are interconnected and we celebrate the beauty, richness, and diversity of our wonderful city.” On Facebook, she posted: “It is equally important that we advocate for the fair treatment of our Palestinian neighbors at home and abroad so that all people may live with dignity, safety, and sovereignty. We must recognize that the history into the present moment of Palestine is marked by struggle. For decades, Palestinians have faced discrimination, displacement, violence, and occupation.

“As a Black woman, I know that a threat to the rights and dignity of any people is a threat to us all. Because I know that our struggles are intertwined, I know that so too is our fight for liberation. And I know that when we lead with solidarity, we win. To all of our Palestinian friends and neighbors: may we all know freedom and justice in the new year ahead. Thank you for being a part of our beautiful city,” Brooks added.

Kenney may not have mentioned any geopolitical issues, but the picture of him with a backdrop of PLO flags was a victory for PLO propaganda, critics say.

And the fact that elected Philadelphia officials stood under the PLO flag should trouble Jewish residents and business owners, said Feldman, who is also concerned that other Jewish leaders have not rebuked Kenney and the other officials for attending the Palestinian event.

“The acceptance of this by Jewish leaders is very troubling. I have not seen a public statement condemning this by any other Jewish organization or other organizations,” Feldman said. “All decent people should be condemning anybody who calls for ending the Jewish State of Israel and establishing a state of Palestine.”

“People are being taken in, hoodwinked by propaganda and lies,” said Feldman. “The bigger and more outrageous the lie, the more it is repeated.”

Days after the Palestinian event, the city’s director of commerce, Michael Rashid, resigned after allegedly making antisemitic remarks to employees. Rashid said he apologized to Jewish leaders for “inappropriate” comments.

In a statement Sunday, Kenney said, “I’ve accepted Mr. Rashid’s resignation today in light of his inappropriate comments. The work of the Commerce Department is far too crucial—and it’s important that the department stays focused on its mission of supporting Philadelphia’s business community at this critical time as we continue to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. The city is committed to ensuring a fair and inclusive working environment where the values of respect and dignity are upheld.”


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