FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Controller Rhynhart: Jolene Nieves Byzon | firstname.lastname@example.org | (215) 300-1071
Councilmember Gauthier: Stephanie Browne | email@example.com | (215) 934-0709
Philadelphia, PA – After more than two years of dedicated work and advocacy to address Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis, City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and 3rd District City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier sent Mayor Jim Kenney a letter demanding that the administration undertake a comprehensive response to the city’s worsening gun violence crisis. In their call for action, the Controller and Councilmember identified the 14 ZIP codes in Philadelphia where gun violence and homicides are most heavily concentrated and laid out eight objectives that the administration must undertake to address this violence in a targeted way. Additionally, they asked for details on the administration’s antiviolence activities to better understand the progress being made on the Roadmap to Safer Communities’ stated goals. The letter, which requested a response by July 30th, coincided with a press conference held in Councilmember Gauthier’s district. The press conference was attended by other councilmembers (Helen Gym, Kendra Brooks, Isaiah Thomas, and Katherine Gilmore Richardson), several members of the Philadelphia delegation and community leaders.
Over the following two months, Councilmember Gauthier and Controller Rhynhart engaged in a series of correspondence with the Kenney administration, which is detailed below.
- July 22 – Original letter from Controller Rhynhart and Councilmember Gauthier to Mayor Kenney demanding a comprehensive response to gun violence that targets resources to the 14 ZIP codes most impacted by gun violence and lays out eight objectives that should comprise this work.
- July 29 – The Kenney administration responds, purporting that work is already underway on all of the stated objectives. However, the administration did not fully address the objectives in their responses and offered neither detailed plans nor timelines to fulfill them. Furthermore, the administration offered no response to the request for a progress report on the Roadmap to Safer Communities’ implementation and effectiveness. Mayor Kenney offered administration staff to meet with Councilmember Gauthier and Controller Rhynhart.
- July 30 – Controller Rhynhart and Councilmember Gauthier respond, broadly pointing out the lack of detail in the administration’s previous communication. They reiterated their request for updates on the progress being made on the Roadmap to Safer Communities. Controller Rhynhart and Councilmember Gauthier requested Mayor Kenney also attend the meeting with administration staff.
- August 4 – Administration responds. The response only pertains to the councilmember and controller’s earlier request for information and data on the City’s current activities. The response does not address the objectives laid out for a comprehensive response to gun violence.
- August 18 – Councilmember Gauthier, Controller Rhynhart, and their respective staffs meet with Kenney Administration staff. Mayor Kenney did not attend.
- August 20 – Councilmember Gauthier and Controller Rhynhart follow up via email with administration staff, requesting additional data and information related to the $155 million allocated in the FY22 budget as ‘anti-violence spending.’ Additionally, they requested information on how data is used to target interventions, minutes from tactical meetings, and a by-ZIP code breakdown of trauma services available, among other items.
- September 13 – Administration responds to previous communication with incomplete responses. They do not provide a breakdown of how the $155 million will be used to address gun violence in the 14 ZIP codes identified by the Controller’s and Councilmember’s Offices.