MICHAEL NUTTER will welcome technologists and mayors to a closed-door Innovation Summit this week. At Media Mobilizing Project, we work with poor and working people every day to tell our stories and connect our struggles using media and technology. Mayors, listen up: these are the innovations that our communities need.
1) Pay Your Workers Enough. Forty-two percent of city workers earn under $35,310 annually - below poverty for a family of four - and this number has doubled since 2008. When mayors pay workers enough, they ensure that local families have resources to spend in their communities.
2) Don't Starve Education. States now spend 28 percent less per student on higher education than in 2008. Head Start faces a $400 million cut post-sequester. And Philly just closed dozens of schools. But when businesses pay their share, we can generate revenue for education. In Philly, tax-exempt properties account for $528 million in lost revenue.
3) Guarantee Emergency Services. Cities and suburbs lost 25 percent of their ERs over 20 years, and each day, up to six fire companies are temporarily closed as part of Nutter's brownouts policy. Cities without working ERs and fire trucks can't sustain thriving neighborhoods.
4) Close the Digital Divide. Most Philly neighborhoods now have public computer centers through KEYSPOTs, a program kick-started by stimulus dollars. Nutter worked to keep these centers thriving, but in Comcast's hometown, 41 percent of us are still offline. Mayors should follow Chattanooga, Tenn.'s lead and build municipal Internet that works for everyone.
5) Quality Housing for Everyone. With AVI, Philadelphia is asking homeowners to pay more while business pays less. Cities can innovate by keeping homes affordable for residents who commit to living and working locally.
6) Speed up our Transit. Low-income workers commute for hours, but public transit is on the chopping block. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe may think that funding SEPTA is "welfare," but cities can innovate by supporting public transit. We can't lift the economy if we can't get to work.
7) Dignity for Immigrants. Our City Council passed a great resolution pushing police to stop collaborating with ICE. To do more, Nutter should push for the Pa. Dream Act and give all Pennsylvania students in-state tuition. Mayors should also follow Vermont's lead and push to license all immigrant drivers - keeping roads safe for everyone.
8) Keep Libraries Open. Philadelphia founded the nation's first free libraries. But in 2008, Nutter put them on the cutting block. When organized opposition stopped him, the mayor reduced hours and staff, leading to unplanned closures. Mayors should fund library staff - who serve as tutors, job-seeker supporters, school library substitutes and more.
9) Keep Health Care Available. Philly's economy relies on hospitals and universities. But while hospitals profit, we lose out. Since 1997, Philadelphia has lost 18 maternity wards. In a city where thousands go without paid sick days, cuts to school nurses leave teachers or aides to administer medicine. Mayors innovate when all are cared for.
10) Invest in Local Businesses, not Casinos. Pennsylvania lapped Jersey for casino revenue, but the costs of this get-rich-quick scheme are too high. Once the glitter fades, cities carry the costs - from cannibalizing existing businesses to increased crime and addiction. Innovative cities should invest in business that doesn't prey on the poor.