State Rep. Youngblood Talks Transparency at Town Hall Meeting
About 20 people came to discuss state and local issues.
State Rep. Rosita Youngblood bemoaned what she feels is a lack of transparency throughout various governmental entities during a town hall-style meeting with constituents Thursday at Parkway Northwest High School For Peace and Social Justice.
Youngblood, whose district covers a portion of West Mt. Airy, talked about how she dislikes that gaming tax revenue goes toward wage tax relief, which people who work in the city can enjoy even if they don't live here. She says she feels that it should go toward property tax relief that would directly benefit city residents.
She also talked about how she wants to have better communication with Mayor Michael Nutter on certain issues. Recently, she said, the mayor tried to encourage members of the state Legislature to vote for a measure that would allow him to unilaterally appoint commissioners to the Philadelphia Housing Authority board.
Youngblood said the mayor was trying to encourage Republicans to vote for the bill before coming to people like her.
"For me, that was about (being) self-serving, to do that," she said.
She also spent time talking about fracking issues—she favors giving people the rights to the land underneath their property, rather than just the property itself. That would theoretically allow people to have more control over the natural gas drilling that many have said threatens the environment in the Marcellus Shale.
The School District of Philadelphia's current state was a hot topic during the meeting. Some of the 20 or so people who attended said they were afraid of sending their children to public school because of the system's state.
Youngblood criticized the School Reform Commission, which has taken a lot of flack in recent weeks and months.
"Somebody sitting on the SRC should have known the deficit was mounting," Youngblood said, as she referred to the $650 million budget gap the district has been recently forced to work with.
She said she feels there should be an elected school board that will better report to the people throughout the city. SRC members are now appointed.
The issue of people moving out of the city to go to other school districts was also discussed. Andrew Lofton, who ran for the Democratic nomination in City Council's 8th District, said people who say often have "no choice" but to do so. Others, he said, move out.
Youngblood acknowledged the problem and said things aren't where they should be in terms of what the state is doing to help its people. But she ended the event on an optimistic note.
"I don't look at things as gloomy," she said. "If we all look at gloom and doom, nothing will happen."