Below is an editorial from the Philadelphia Inquirer today about the demise of a non-profit beloved by the last mayor, John Street. The group probably got more than $200 million from the city in the last 8 years but see the money quote I bolded below: THE INQUIRER SAYS the non-profit "was always known as STREET'S PLAYGROUND". In other words, the city money went to the non-profit and Street's puppets there dished the loot as they saw fit. There is no other way to say this- the Inquirer editorial staff has been a bunch of pussies. They kissed Street's ass while he was in office and now almost five months after he is gone, they finally find the guts to kick him. Don't get me wrong, Street was scum just like most of the other city pols.
Safe and Sound - Over and out
Neither the city's at-risk children nor its taxpayers should miss Philadelphia Safe and Sound when the agency closes its doors. The directors of the nonprofit voted last week to cease operations by June 30. Their action comes while the agency is under continued scrutiny by the city and state into how Safe and Sound spent tens of millions of dollars on after-school and anti-violence programs.
A preliminary report by the state Department of Public Welfare found that Safe and Sound was doing a poor job with taxpayers' money. Among the findings were weak accountability, soaring administrative costs, and spending on programs that did not appear to benefit the most at-risk children. The demise of Safe and Sound culminates Mayor Nutter's mini-crusade against irresponsible spending decisions by his predecessor.
As mayor, John Street pushed through a $21 million increase for the agency, to $75 million, shortly before he left office. Safe and Sound was created in 1998 by then-Mayor Ed Rendell, but it was always known as Street's playground. His wife, Naomi Post Street, ran the agency until 2002.
It received no-bid contracts to coordinate and funnel money to hundreds of youth programs serving 27,000 children. But it's still not clear what value the city got from an outfit that essentially passed through money to other vendors who did the real work. Nutter decided to seek bids for this work, which is what the city should have done years ago.
Soon after Nutter's decision, Safe and Sound officials decided to fold. Chairman Ernest E. Jones said the agency had lost staffers and had no commitment for any funding. If they were so committed to the work they were doing, why not submit a competitive bid for the job? With Safe and Sound closing its doors, Nutter's team must ensure continuity of needed youth programs. The quarrel was never with beneficial programs; it was with rising administrative costs and a lack of accountability.
There isn't much time to evaluate bids and get a new coordinating team up and running. Nutter was correct to raise questions about Safe and Sound, but now he needs to do everything within his power to keep delivering worthwhile services beyond June 30. Neither should Safe and Sound's decision to go out of business stop a full accounting of its past expenditures. The Department of Public Welfare report raised questions about the effectiveness of some youth programs, finding there was a "significant risk" that they were not serving the children most in need of help. The city needs to ensure not only that its money is being spent carefully, but also that the children who are most at-risk receive services that will do them good.