tv NBC10 Issue NBC November 5, 2017 11:30am-12:01pm EST
the change we need. male announcer: "nbc10@issue" starts now. of philadelphia that the state of their schools are someonee else's responsibility. that ends today. rosemary connors: taking back control. today, philadelphia mayor jim kenney joins us to outline his plan for axing the school reform commission. but first, the race for philadelphia district attorney. with just hours to go before the polls open on tuesday, this race could be decided by who shows up to vote. good morning, i'm rosemary connors for "nbc10@issue." it's a race being closely watched on a national level. the race pits republican beth grossman against democrat larry krasner. grossman grew up in the philadelphia area and graduated from penn state and temple university's beasley school of law. she worked in the philadelphia district attorney's office as a prosecutor for over 21 years. after that, she was the chief of staff of the city's licenses and
inspections department. she was also chief of the city's public nuisance task force. she now has a private law practice. krasner, originally from st. louis, has lived in philadelphia for 30 years. after graduating from the university of chicago and stanford law school, krasner worked as a public defender in philadelphia for 5 years. for the past 25, he's been a civil rights and criminal defense attorney with his own private practice in center city. the current district attorney, kelley hodges, is finishing out the term of former da seth williams. a federal judge recently sentenced williams to 5 years in prison for bribery and corruption. he admitted to using his position to help friends and business contacts who gave him gifts, and he admitted to stealing his mother's money meant to pay for her nursing care. the candidates are joining me this morning ahead of the election on tuesday. thank you both for being with us. beth grossman: thank you very much, nice to be here. rosemary: so, first question, how will you restore trust and integrity to the office of district attorney, given that the previous district attorney is now serving time
behind bars? beth: well, i think, you know, you lead by example. so, what the da has to do is establish a code of ethics for the office, including prosecutors, support staff, and police personnel. and i also, if elected, will be the da who is out there as many nights a week as possible, meeting with different community groups so they understand that there is a receptive da who cares about what's going on in the community and wants to listen to the public. larry krasner: first of all, i think that my opponent's absolutely right about those factors, but it's a bigger issue than that. we have to look at the issue of institutional corruption in different forms. and for example, when seth williams came in, there were only about 12 supervisors, and we now find there's about 59 supervisors. an awful lot of the office's resources are tied up in supervisors, who frankly seem to be doing less work than the trial lawyers who work hard every day. we have also had some pretty serious issues with civil asset forfeiture that, in my mind, suggests a level of institutional corruption, and all of that has to change.
rosemary: you speak of civil asset forfeiture. you were involved in the legal process that takes people's property away. you've been criticized for people's property when they--being taken away when they weren't committing a crime. beth: well this-- the fact is this, that the pennsylvania forfeiture act permits any proceeds, whether it's house, real estate, cars, money to be taken from those involved with drug trafficking. and the story that never gets reported is that neighbors suffer in neighborhoods all over the city by living next to a drug house. i've yet to find somebody who enjoys living next to a drug house. it decreases property values, crime goes up. and with regard to assets, you know, we're in the middle of the biggest heroin and opioid crisis, and i fail to see why drug dealers should profit from pushing that poison. rosemary: we should mention that this, of course, was related to your work as being a part of the city's nuisance task force when you were chief of staff. beth: right, which was--in the da's, i was chief of the public nuisance task force, and it was an outstanding program because we worked with neighbors all throughout the city,
dealing with issues such as nuisance bars, violent bars, scattering rubbish, abandoned lots, dangerous properties, bad out-of-state landlords. so, we established that the da's office can actually be a resource for neighbors besides what we do every day in court. and if elected, i want to have a very, very strong community engagement unit so there is somebody advocating for neighborhoods as well. rosemary: you mentioned the opioid crisis. that is affecting the country, our region, certainly the city. mr. krasner, this goes to you. in terms of treatment, we know that, from the experts, this is the way to curb the crisis. so, how do you make sure that addicts are spending time in treatment facilities and not spending time behind bars? larry: well, first of all, you change the culture of the da's office, which for my 30 years--and i've been a court 4 to 5 days a week for 30 years. for my 30 years, their solution, excuse me, to addiction has been to put people in a jail cell at $42,000 a year, rather than take lesser resources that would be necessary to actually treat the addiction.
there's a fundamental problem with the culture of the da's office, there has been for a long time. and that problem is that they try to maximize charges against people, maximize arrests, maximize convictions, and maximize years. and it is a failed culture, it is a failed philosophy that has made us less safe and has also made society less just. rosemary: you make it sounds as though if you were elected, you might clean house immediately. larry: well, there's some house cleaning to do. but let's understand what that means. every time a new district attorney comes in, there is some turnover. when josh shapiro become the attorney general in pennsylvania, an office that is basically equal to the size of the philadelphia da's office, he dismissed, one way or another, 42 attorneys and a total of 62 people. that's normal. when ed mandell came in as district attorney, he made every single person in the office submit a resignation, and then many of them went on to do other things. this is normal, this is what is done. so, there will be some house cleaning to do, but having said that, there's also a ton of really great prosecutors in that office i've known personally for years, tried cases with for years, who are in my cell phone,
who are very close to me, and i think that we can do really good work together. rosemary: miss grossman, your response? beth: well, i think we have to look at, you know, talking about their--i do agree that there are too many supervisors. you have to use your resources as best that you can with a limited budget, but there are many, many extraordinary, talented people there with whom i've had the pleasure of calling my colleagues. but you also want to look and see, you know, who's a worker, who hasn't been? do things need to be streamlined and cut out? and do you want to hire new people, younger folks who have fresh ideas. i think that's very important to prevent institutional staleness. but going to back to a point that my opponent said, over the past several years, the da's office has actually become much more collaborative with the public defender's office, with the court system, and probation and parole, with a boatload of diversion programs that allow people who have gotten into trouble, maybe first or second time, to actually get themselves together, whether it's through treatment, drug treatment, mental health treatment, job training, ged.
and many of these programs actually have expungement eligibility, so it's kind of an investment. if you get somebody back on track, there's less chance that he or she may go on to recidivate, or commit more serious crimes. so, it has changed over the past several years. i will acknowledge that seth williams had done some good things in the da's office, and that has to be acknowledged. rosemary: so, that's something you support. beth: i absolutely support. you know, you focus on violent criminals, you have to. but if there is a way to keep people, you know, from graduating to more serious crimes, then i would rather give people a second chance, go on, get themselves together. and hopefully, as i mean it with the most respectful way, never see you again. rosemary: homicides are up in the city of philadelphia. how do you prevent violent crime, deadly violent crime, and work with the police department? beth: i think-- well, first of all, the da's office is really about working collaboratively, and you need relationships. you need good working relationships with our law enforcement partners, which includes the police department, both local, state, and federal, and as well as with atf
and the fbi. and with regard to gun violence, it's a couple things. i think you really have to go after and prosecute gun crimes, including illegal possession of gun crimes, and really focus and sentence on them. you need to focus on--the da's office has a gun violence task force, which deals with straw purposes--purchases, where somebody who has no record goes in and purchases a gun for somebody who has, you know, a criminal record and can't purchase. and are there guns stores where you're starting to see a large amount of straw purchases, and does that bear looking into? as well as i would actually also like to do a community outreach for educating the community through meetings where proper storage of guns in houses because a lot of guns are stolen. rosemary: mr. krasner, how would you curb the homicide rate in philadelphia? larry: well, as you know, there's a long-term and a short-term approach. the short-term approach has to include things that other das have not been willing to do for political reasons. we have to go after dirty gun shops. i've been going after dirty gun shops in one way or another
for a very long time, but that's not something this office have ever done. they always want to talk about going after individuals, but not gun shops that engage in straw purchases, or that permit them to occur. there's a 48 hour reporting rule, which is out there right now, which seth williams did not enforce that says if you're going to claim that your gun disappeared due to loss or theft, you have to report it within 48 hours. it's very important because when we find someone who's been shot to death, and we trace a crime gun to that killing, what we find out over and over is that a, quote, legitimate purchaser, unquote, is claiming that it disappeared years ago and they just didn't report it. we have to crack down on that. but obviously, the long-term solution, and we all know this from the science around it, is that when you bankrupt your schools to fill your jails, when you eliminate your public education to become the most incarcerated of the ten largest cities in the united states, that's a failing report card. we need, in the long run, to shift our resources away from jail and into things that actually reduce crime. rosemary: don't go away because we will be back in just a few moments with the candidates
for philadelphia district attorney. the candidates are republican beth grossman and democrat larry krasner, and they continue to join us to resume the discussion. thank you again for being with us. let's talk about voter turnout on tuesday. obviously, it is a non-presidential election year. in the city of philadelphia, democrats--registered democrats outnumber republicans-- you're shaking your head yes, i know i'm not the first person to tell you this. outnumber republicans i think it's something like seven to one. in terms of getting your voters out, i mean, how do you do that? beth: well, i think we have a great outreach team. i've spent time since the summer getting out and meeting people, and the amazing thing is i've gotten a positive response from everybody, republicans, independents, libertarians, democrats.
people have really given me the privilege of their time, and i think that this is a race about experience and qualifications, and people understand my 21 and a half years of experience as a prosecutor. rosemary: mr. krasner, are you concerned at all that, given what did happen one year ago, groups in the city that were expected to turn out didn't turn out? are you concerned for your base? larry: no, i mean, honestly i hope everybody votes. i hope every democrat, every republican turns out. this is a democracy, people should go and vote for what they believe in. but no, i'm not concerned, i feel like we have a very supportive coalition of many different groups who are interested in the issues. not really interested in me, but they're interested in the issues, and that's what matters. i feel like we have a movement, and i think they'll turn out. rosemary: one of the issues that's gaining national attention is the sanctuary city status of philadelphia. the mayor has vowed that the city will stay a sanctuary city. what's your response to that? how do you work with the mayor if you don't agree with that? beth: look, i will always work with the mayor. it's not something that i agree with.
you know, when you take an oath as the district attorney, you're there to uphold the law, whether it's federal, state, local. you know, and what i will make clear with regard to that is the da's office always champions the rights of victims and survivors of crime, and somebody's residency status doesn't matter. nobody should be a victim of crime. what i don't want to see is the city lose federal funding for various crime initiatives, that concerns me. rosemary: would you work with federal authorities who are looking for people that maybe the da's office has prosecuted? larry: so, this city needs to stay a sanctuary city. if you really believe in victim's rights, then let me tell you what you don't want. you don't want people who are-- have no legal status in the us, but are afraid to call the police when they're robbed, or when they're attacked, or when they're raped because they know that the process of calling the police is going to get them deported. and that is going on right now, it's going on in norristown, and it's going on in other locations. when you create a group of people who cannot engage the police for their protection, they cannot engage the da for their protection, whether it's sex workers or it is people with
undocumented status, you are not protecting victims at all, you're exposing them. beth: i have to disagree with that. in my 21 years in the da's office, we have never asked or inquired of a victim's status, a witnesses status, any documentation that ice has access to through the courts system. the first judicial district does not pertain or provide any victim/witness information. so, and with regard to sex traffickers, there's actually now something in the statute for human trafficking which allows law enforcement to help those victims get the proper documentation they need to stay in the country because it's-- you know, as the time has gone over the years, we've now realized that prostitution isn't really a crime, it's really a human trafficking thing. so, the viewpoint of that has really changed. rosemary: i wonder though if it's the message too to people in the community, that philadelphia is or is not a sanctuary city. and you are being counted on to come forward if you see crime, witness crime, et cetera. i wonder if it's the perception of that and the message that's being sent to people who live in the city.
beth: it may be, but people are always free to go to the police and report, and the da's office. and people--the public needs to know that the da's office does not enforce ice regulations, that is not our role. we do not prosecute, we do not go after immigration stuff, that is not what we do. we prosecute the laws, the criminal laws in the commonwealth of pennsylvania. larry: i mean, that's nice rhetoric, but the reality is i deal with clients all the time who are terrified to call the police when they're victims of crime, and it's due in part to the rhetoric around sanctuary cities. so, let me be real clear, i support sanctuary cities and i support the mayor's position. rosemary: do you have a final word on this? beth: no, i stand firm. a prosecutor is to uphold the oath of office, but we will always treat victims and witnesses of crime with the respect that they deserve. rosemary: we'll end it there. republican beth grossman, democrat larry krasner, our candidates for philadelphia district attorney, thank you for being with us. both: thank you. rosemary: coming up next on "nbc10@issue," philadelphia mayor jim kenney joins us in studio to make his pitch for picking his own school board and giving
the current school reform commission the heave-ho. ♪ he's a husband, father, veteran... but most of all, he's a fighter. chris brown has never been afraid to take on the big fights. that's why he stood up to republicans and democrats alike to fight the north jersey casinos and the takeover of atlantic city. chris brown is fighting to protect jobs in our region... a true champion for the working men and women of atlantic county. on november 7th, let's keep him fighting for us. chris brown for state senate, he's on our side.
this week to seize control of the city's struggling schools. the mayor wants to put an end to the school reform commission and replace it with a board of his choosing. the mayor says his office will take responsibility to make sure the schools are funded properly. joining me now is philadelphia mayor jim kenney, thanks for being with us. jim: it's my pleasure. rosemary: so, first explain why an appointed school board by you, the mayor, is better than what's in place right now? jim: it's all about accountability. i mean, for many, many years, 15 years now, people have been pointing fingers at each other. city pointing fingers at the state legislature, state legislature pointing fingers at the governor, charter school people pointing fingers at the public school folks, public school doing the same to the charters. it's time for us to make a-- make a decision whether or not our children's futures and the city's futures are important enough to fund education and to be accountable for its results. and i think this, having direct appointment power by the mayor,
as it was before the src was in existence, i think is the most direct way to do that. and that allows us to bring with it all the integrated services that the city provides in varying degrees. sanitation, police services, dhs, behavioral health, you name it, we can work as integrated partners as if the school district is a department of the city. rosemary: in terms of lack of funding, budget deficits, something that we've seen as a result of that in years past has been school closures. and i remember covering extensively the school closures a few years ago, and it seems to me the loudest calls for the dismantling of the src was back then, when schools were being closed left and right. is that where we're headed, school closures in philadelphia? jim: you have to remember we've been there already. dr. hite i think closed 24 or 26 schools, we laid off-- he laid off 4,000 employees, the administrative budget now 3%, it's as lean as it's ever been.
they had to cut out, you know, nurses, and librarians, and vice principals, and counselors. and our kids when backwards during the course of the src's tenure. we've finally gotten the most--dr. hite has finally replaced many of those things he had to cut, and now our kids are starting to make progress in the pssa's and the keystone exams. small, modest gains, but the ship is now turned in the right direction, and i am not going back to the days of cutting and cutting and cutting again. rosemary: in terms of funding the school district of philadelphia, are we talking about more taxes? jim: well, we're in a-- we're in a process now over the next 3 months. i deliver the budget, the budget addressed to council in early february. we are currently in the process of working with our finance people, mayoral staff, council staffing, council members to craft a package that we can present to council in february to fund our schools adequately. rosemary: in terms of how this school board would look, let's break it down for our viewers in terms of how many people you would appoint, how long they would serve, and the role of city council. jim: you have to remember we're going to back--when the src dissolves itself, we will go back to the charter requirements
for the school board. that's nine appointment by the mayor. they used to run in staggered terms, now this--for the first time in i think a long time, they will run concurrent with the mayor's term. so, this way there's no holdovers to the next mayor. and that was one of the problems with the old school board is there were members appointed by the previous mayor that, you know, weren't in sync with the mayor and the mayor's goals. so, they'll run-- they'll run the system, they will hire the superintendent, or dr. hite is going to stay thankfully. he's been one of the best we've had, he's the longest serving superintendent that we've had in the school district, and we want him to stay because he's done a tremendous job in turning this issue around despite the fact that he's been underfunded for all this time. so, it's time for us as a city that wants to be a world-class city, that views itself as a world-class city, to have a world-class educational process for our kids so they can take the jobs of the future. rosemary: and the role of city council in this process? and who would be on this school board? who are we talking about here?
jim: well, we're going to look for a diverse group of people with certain skillsets. you know, financial skillsets, educational skillsets, backgrounds, people who have children in the districts, in the traditional district schools, perhaps representation from the charter community. i mean, we're going to have a group of people being recommended by a 13-member recommendation panel, which we'll appoint that first. those folks will come up with 3 people for each slot, so they'll send 27 names to us, we'll pick 9, and that'll be the school board. rosemary: and city council will be able to see these candidates too? jim: we'll be able to see and we'll be able to have their own vetting process, and they're also--they're also going through--i think they introduced a charter amendment today for--to approve council--to approve mayoral appointments to the school board, but that has to pass council by 12 votes, and it has to be voted on by the voters. but we have to transition this quickly when the src dissolves to get to the opening day of september--of september 2018. rosemary: when you made the announcement earlier this week, you were greeted with applause from the teachers union,
from parents who were there to hear the announcement at city hall, and we did get some sound with a parent who was there. let's take a quick listen to what she had to say. sheila armstrong: we applaud the mayor on the great thing that he's doing, taking ownership and accountability of our schools. but what we want to also assure is that the people's voice is being heard. rosemary: so, that parent there talking about how she appreciates your efforts in terms of moving forward and taking the control away from the src, putting it into a locally appointed school board. but it seems as though there may be a caveat, that some parents may want the school board to be elected. jim: the problem with elected school board is the election process. and in this day and age, after the citizens united ruling of the supreme court, anybody can set up a pac that's unknown and put millions of dollars into those pac, and basically select the school board. i mean, i think it's better for the mayor, who's elected and accountable to the taxpayer and to the voters, to be responsible as opposed to some, you know,
shady pac that, you know, puts money in because they have their own agenda. rosemary: so, does the buck stop with you? jim: buck stops with me. we said from day one that we were going to change our children's lives. and you know, my hope--i hope my legacy down the road is that there are--there are thousands of children in our city that are working at terrific paying jobs, and providing for their families, and paying taxes, and building--and buying houses, and rebuilding neighborhoods. and that's the only way we're going to do it is by educating our kids. rosemary: mayor jim kenney of philadelphia, thank you for coming in, appreciate it. jim: thank you.
rosemary: don't forget to vote on tuesday. polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. in pennsylvania. in new jersey, the polls open at 6 a.m. and they stay open until 8 p.m. first time voters may be asked to show identification. that's it for this edition of "nbc10@issue." thank you for being with us, have a great sunday, and please don't forget to vote on tuesday. ♪
after 8 years of chris christie, is kim guadagno the change new jersey really needs? guadagno is christie's hand-picked successor. says she's "proud to be part of the christie administration." guadagno was chris christie's right hand as our schools came under attack, critical services were underfunded, and our credit rating was downgraded...11 times. from the bridge to the beach, we've seen it all, and we've had enough. kim guadagno isn't the change we need.
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