|Name||John F. Street|
|Address||Room 215 City Hall|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, United States
|| October 15, 1943
Dec 13, 2006 08:04pm
|Info||John Franklin Street is the 97th Mayor of the City of Philadelphia. He was first elected to a term beginning on January 3, 2000, and was re-elected to a second term beginning in 2004. He is a Democrat and became mayor after having served 19 years in the Philadelphia City Council, including 7 years as its President, before resigning as required under the Philadelphia City Charter in order to run for Mayor. He followed Ed Rendell as mayor. |
Mr. Street was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, received an undergraduate degree in English from Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, and his law degree from Temple University.
He grew up as a member of farming household, the son of a white father and African-American mother. He is a Seventh-day Adventist, and well known for his evangelical approach to weight loss and healthy living.
As councilman from North Philadelphia and Center City, as Council President, and as Mayor, he has sought to balance the interests of Philadelphia's low income citizens, and the interest of the business community. Somewhat conservative in the context of the politics of Philadelphia's African-American communities, he was backed by the Republican councilmembers for City Council President. When he ran for Mayor, Republican mayoral nominee Sam Katz ran negative ads against his two major Democratic opponents, John White and Marty Weinberg, ostensibly because they were perceived as stronger opposition candidates.
Street is very passionate on the importance of the Democratic Party. He is known to be intrigued by the statewide successes of both Ed Rendell and Barack Obama, and has floated the possibility of being a candidate for statewide office in Pennsylvania.
In light of recent scandals and FBI probes, his relationship with the City Council are tenuous at best. He and councilman Michael Nutter, a potential Democratic candiate for Mayor when Street's term expires in 2007, are engaged in a political sparring match. However Street did endorse and campaign for a 2005 revision of Nutter's New York-style smoking ban.
The April 17, 2005 issue of Time Magazine listed him as one of the three worst big-city mayors in the United States.
During Street's first administration, much emphasis was placed on the "Neighborhood Transformation Initiative." Opponents raised objections to the program's emphasis on demolishing abandoned buildings rather than seeking re-use or restoration of the sometimes historic properties. Others hailed the program for bringing much-needed investment to the city's many poor neighborhoods.
The city's public schools were among the worst in the country when Street took office, and much of his attention early on went into difficult decisions about the schools.
In August of 2001, the lucrative Philadelphia Parking Authority was taken over by the Pennsylvania government in a compromise designed to help the Philadelphia School District out of its fiscal crisis. Many believed that the Parking Authority's revenues were politically insubstantial in comparison with the high-profile patronage positions on the Parking Authority's board that were transfered from Democratic to Republican hands in the move.
In November of 2001, a compromise between Street and the Republican controlled General Assembly allowed for the privatization of the Philadelphia Public Schools. Edison Schools, Inc. took over day-to-day operations of some of the worst-performing city schools, while a small number of others were taken over by other institutions - primarily area universities.
Drawing ire from Skateboarders, he banned skateboarding from the internationally famous Love Park which hosted the X-Games in 2001 and 2002, the year the ban began to be enforced. In 2004 he turned down an $1-million offer from DC Shoes to maintain and renovate the park to allow skating. Instead the spent $800,000 on adding obstacles for skaters to the park. The ban was a minor issue in the 2003 election, opponent Sam Katz endorsed skating in the park.
Street created the Office of Health and Fitness after the city was named the fattest city in the nation by Men's Fitness magazine in 1999. The magazine cited the low number of athletic facilities and high number of fast food restaurants. Street also favored a city-wide smoking ban, though as of May 2005 the City Council had postponed voting on such a ban until September.
Street has also advocated for the construction of a city-wide Wi-Fi network. The network is to be run by the non-profit organization Wireless Philadelphia in partnership with the city and commercial internet service providers. Opponents of the plan suggest that government involvement will quash innovation. Supporters hope that the plan will help bring information access to poor Philadelphians and make the city more attractive to young and educated people.
During the re-election campaign against Katz, the FBI acknowledged that it had placed listening devices in the Mayor's office as part of a corruption investigation. There has been no evidence that Street himself is corrupt, but federal prosecutors say the mayor's close friend and fund raiser, Ron White, partially took control of city contracting and used the process to find donations for Street's 2003 re-election campaign. White died before going to trial, but former city treasurer Corey Kemp, a member of Street's administration was found guilty on 27 corruption-related charges in May 2005. Additional prosecutions of members of Street's administration were expected in the wake of the Kemp conviction.
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