Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Good afternoon, Council President Clarke, Majority Leader Councilman Jones, Majority Whip Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Minority Leader Councilman O'Neill, Minority Whip Councilman Oh, and all the other Honorable Councilpeople here this morning and my fellow citizens. I'm here today to give testimony on Bill 130156-A, the establishment of the land bank.

I think all the leadership of this Council and its members have done a fine job in looking out for the people's business. As Councilwoman Blackwell often says, this is the people's house, and the thing that separates you from us is this bar. You're our elected officials. You are the elected officials duly elected by thousands of Philadelphia citizens whom selected you to make decisions on behalf of the people. You stood on the stage in January of 2012. You took an oath to discharge your duties with fidelity. The key word was you were going to discharge your duties, not give them away.

I'd like to thank you, Council President Clarke, and all the people who stood up to make sure that you were not giving away your elected power. With the oversight that you put in this bill, you will be saving a lot of people -- giving a lot of people opportunity. You will also, by the oversight you put in this bill, you will not be giving your power to a few unselected, unaccountable groups of people to do what they want to do.

It's been often said that in this society, it is through the ownership of land and business that makes people independent. And one thing when Mr. Sauer talked, he mentioned his coalition. You know, when you look from the coalition that represents the City's diversity, look around this room. You see blacks, you see whites, you see Latinos, you see Asians, you see everybody. But in that coalition, I don't see black males. I see two black women, but I don't see black males. It's hard for me to trust somebody who comes to me, but they don't see me. They don't see me as a black male to be worthy enough to be included in that position. Not me personally, but a black male or black males. Not just one black male, but males.

So they ask me to trust them, trust them to give them 40,000 pieces of property to let them do what they want to do. That's too much trust. I can't look at nobody's heart, but it's through the memorialization of legislation that we can put checks and balances.

You're our elected officials. We gave you the right to put those checks and balances in there. I thank you for everything you do.

Councilman Jones, you're my Councilperson. You've never let me down, and you know I've always been about transparency.

So I think the issues that you put in this bill about transparency, they're important, because that bill, like the Vacant Property Review, the things that you put in there giving us the ability to see what's going on with the agenda, I thank you. That's all we need is oversight; oversight and leadership.

Thank you for your leadership, Councilman.

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