When our system of government was being established back in the 18th century, Founding Father James Madison famously argued, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Today, those words still ring true – those in power too often seek to expand their power at the expense of everyday people. But when Philadelphia taxpayers are the target, the powerful have learned the hard way that there is a force that will stand up to them in the City Controller’s Office.
I’m proud to say that the Controller’s Office has become the top independent fiscal watchdog in Philadelphia and am even more proud of the record we have established to back it up. To date, we have helped the city realize $116 million in savings and identified over $800 million in total savings and have uncovered a range of issues across city departments from outright theft and mismanagement to serious safety concerns.
We were the first to sound the alarm on the Philadelphia School District’s reckless borrowing and spending under Paul Vallas, even though it meant fighting with entrenched political interests. Our audit of the Sheriff’s Office uncovered millions of dollars in questionable transactions and led to a complete overhaul. We hold people’s feet to the fire and, when we uncover major issues, like our recent discovery that the Fund for Philadelphia - a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Philadelphians – was using public dollars in ways that resembled a slush fund, we refuse to back down.
In addition to tirelessly rooting out fraud and corruption, we also keep our focus on the future and big picture ideas for city government to improve. I’ve fought to take politics out of the pension board and have proposed a nationally recognized buyout proposal that would lower Philadelphia’s unfunded liability in the area where it really exists - the 1967 Plan ($5 billion of the $5.9 billion under-funding). Our office has been working side by side with the city’s education and medical anchor institutions to implement a plan to create more than 4,000 new jobs by identifying which products they use most and leveraging their collective buying power in support of local manufacturing. Already, they have partnered with new startups to increase the amount of products that are being sourced from our city.
My team and I have been honored to receive prestigious awards and national recognition from the Association of Local Government Auditors (ALGA) seven times since I first took office in 2006.
When I have sought re-election, interests I’ve gone to battle have sprung up to run candidates against me. My opponent worked directly for the current and previous administrations – in roles that produced work my office is now auditing – and never once stood up to expose corruption or mismanagement. In fact, diversity in city departments was extremely problematic under her watch, a very troubling fact. That’s certainly not progressive by any definition I have heard before, and it doesn’t sound like someone prepared to be an objective, independent watchdog.
I’ve defeated powerful interests many times in my career, and am prepared to continue doing so. If you believe that Philadelphia needs a strong, independent watchdog to fight for our families and make sure tax dollars are being used efficiently and effectively, I’m asking for your vote today.