On Thursday Evening March 10th, I, among dozens of other concerned community members were able to experience an acting performance unlike any other. This event, produced by Germantown Community Connection, was not a production of community theatre, or a talent show. This was the GCC Member general meeting in which the topic was the departing Fresh Grocer located on Chelten Ave.
Community residents were brought up to speed about the recent developments and factual information regarding the proposed development, which was made available through the diligent investigative work completed by Betty Turner, Irv Ackelsberg, and others.
But the performance of which I speak of, belonged to none other than Rep. Rosita Youngblood. Her masterful ability to present herself as a concerned elected official amazed all of us in attendance.
As many of us are well aware, a State Representative’s primary focus is to represent us in all matters of state business, including state allocation of funds for development projects. So you can imagine the shock that hit the faces of those in attendance when Ms Youngblood, playing the role of the superhero elected official, told us that she knew nothing about this project moving forward, however she was fully prepared and willing to help “all of us” file a lawsuit against this project.
With more of that feigned concern that has become a hallmark of her tenure, Ms. Youngblood said that she reached several times to Pat Burns, one of the owners of the organization looking to develop on the land, but did not receive any responses, which she felt was a disservice to the community. We actually agree. If you didn’t receive a call back that should be considered a problem. But the bigger problem is that Irv Ackelsberg was able to speak to Pat Burns. So was Betty Turner. So are you suggesting that these two dedicated individuals can do a better job than you at contacting businesses in our area, even with the power and resources that the Seal of the State of Pennsylvania on your business card provides? Pardon me…I’m just wondering out loud.
The most pungent line from this actor/elected official came about 7 minutes into her monologue, when Ms Youngblood stated “It’s not uncommon for another State Rep to move into another’s territory with a project especially when they are the Appropriations Chair”, as if to insinuate that this project was driven by State Rep Dwight Evans? Well, Ms Youngblood, isn’t your job as OUR representative to ensure that you not only have a working partnership with the Appropriations Chair but also a clear understanding of the projects moving through your district at all times? I mean honestly…your territory consists of a few square miles. Not even a whole city. This should be an area that you travel through consistently, as you would the halls of Harrisburg, getting a feel for any project development and opportunities that are forming under your watch. Other State Reps seem to have that down pat. Oh…and did I mention that your office is less than 100 yards away from this project that you seem to not have full details of?
Now to Ms Youngblood’s credit…
She did say that she and her staff were diligently working to find the paperwork that seemed to be missing regarding the awarding of these dollars to this particular development company…but wouldn’t common sense say that one who has a developer who has filed for money to be used in her area, would request to have her OWN copies of the application before its submission to the respective State department? That seems to be a part of organizational management that just about all of us understand…especially the small businesses and non-profits in the area who seem to have to submit and resubmit paperwork time after time for state assistance and support. I know the halls of Harrisburg have been known to eat a ream or two of paper, but allowing documents to go missing that pertain to the allocation of our tax money to a developer is absolutely ridiculous.
The truth is…
The 198th Legislative district is truly diverse in its culture and its arts. And we love our arts…from the CAKE block parties in Logan, the festival with the Nicetown CDC, to the plays on the stage at Allens Lane Art Center. But we love it in its proper place…on the stage. Not in the chair designated for our State Representative.
The position to which you are elected, Ms. Youngblood, is one of representation, and of service. You mentioned in that meeting about Pat Burns and his non responsiveness to your calls as a disservice to the community. But what about the unreturned calls to your office? The fact that you showed up to this meeting late and without any paperwork that would help your constituents better understand the situation at hand? What about the fact that the meeting itself was presented by Germantown Community Connection and NOT your office? Shouldn’t you have been the lead on these efforts?
We thank you for your time in office. But 2012 is coming. And the community as a whole deserves and demands better representation – on all levels of elected office. The way this project was placed in our community was wrong; done without proper dissemination of information and absolutely no leadership from you. And as the community once again gathers together to address these challenges and ultimately overcomes them, as we have been known to do for years now, rest assured that we now know the difference between acting and serving.
And May 2012, we will be prepared to address that too.
Sincerely, Malik Boyd
Editor’s note: Malik Boyd is a former opponent of Rep. Rosita Youngblood in the 198th District and the current president of Philadelphia Young Democrats.