After Philadelphia magazine reported that the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections paid philly.com $15,000 to run three “advertorials,” which resemble news stories but are labeled as ads, Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey called on the department commissioner to resign.
According to WHYY’s Tom MacDonald, L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams defended the expense as such: “We thought it was important for the public to understand what we were doing since the tragic building collapse to improve public safety in the city of Philadelphia.”
Bailey was having none of that, though. In statement emailed to media outlets on Wednesday, she maintained:
L&I’s purchase of propaganda articles on Philly.com to improve their image is just another example of Philadelphia wasting our hard earned tax dollars.
While the everyday actions of L&I have resulted in multiple building collapses, unlicensed inspectors inspecting our homes and political vendettas against beer gardens, the Commissioner tries to sell the city’s citizens on the improvement of the department with words instead of actually improving the department.
For too long L&I has been run as a corrupt political machine, whether it is inspectors taking bribes or the decision of city council to include Political Ward committees in the zoning process, it is time for a change.
I call on Commissioner Carlton Williams to resign immediately and I promise you as Mayor I will reform this corrupt institution for the betterment of all Philadelphians.
Reacting to that call for action, a spokeswoman for Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney told the Inquirer that it’s unfair to blame Williams “for L&I’s long-term, systemic problems, but there’s clearly a desire for change.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald told the newspaper that candidates “will say and do what they think will help them win favor with voters.”
UPDATE: At an unrelated Thursday afternoon press conference, Kenney reiterated his statement that Williams will not be kept on as commissioner should he win the mayoral election.
“I think it’s time for a change there,” he said, “but all this doesn’t fall at the feet of Carlton Williams.”