For immediate release: Monday, January 3, 2022
Contact: Jolene Nieves Byzon, 215-300-1071
Philadelphia, PA – Today, Rebecca Rhynhart was sworn-in to her second term as Philadelphia City Controller over Zoom. The oath of office was administered by the Honorable Judge Carolyn H. Nichols of the Pennsylvania Superior Court. A recording of the swearing in is available here.
City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart released the following statement regarding her time in office and beginning her second term. The statement is as follows:
“For the last four years, it has been my tremendous privilege to serve as the City Controller of our city, pushing for change and standing up for what’s right. To the people of our city – I want to thank you for believing in me and for your confidence as we fight for the Philadelphia we all deserve. A city that works for everyone. It is an honor to be elected by the people of Philadelphia to a second term as City Controller.
During my first inauguration in 2018, I made a promise to all Philadelphians that my office would work diligently to root out fraud and mismanagement and push for the efficient and effective operation of city government. I am proud that my team and I have fulfilled every promise made on day one, including auditing every department every year, and conducting special audits on the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services.
In my first term, in addition to the core financial audit function of the Controller’s Office, I have used the investigative power of my office to help build trust between the public and its government. We’ve responded to calls from residents to look into issues of concern and push our city’s leaders to do better. Following George Floyd’s murder in 2020, my office conducted an independent review of the city’s response to the resulting civil unrest, finding that a lack of planning and leadership had serious negative consequences. And in a first for the Controller’s Office, we ensured the voices of those most affected by the unrest were represented in the report by creating a community council with residents, business owners, clergy members and community leaders. My office also investigated the procurement process for the city’s new voting machines in response to public concern. This resulted in the city receiving its largest penalty payment in its history, $2.9 million.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we were faced with unprecedented health and fiscal crises, my office got to work providing important financial analysis and solutions that would help Philadelphians and guide the path forward. We released an alternative budget that showed the city could balance the budget without raising taxes and with less severe cuts to city services. We reported on the pandemic’s impact on Philadelphia’s economy. And we released a report on the best ways the city could use its $1.4 billion infusion of American Rescue Plan funds.
As a citywide elected official, I believe I have a responsibility to the people to use my voice and my platform to fight for fairness. Throughout my first term, I have redefined the role of City Controller to be a champion for a government that works for all Philadelphians. Since 2019, in response to the rising gun violence crisis in our city, my office has worked to provide information on what we should be doing here that has been successful at reducing the violence in other cities. This past year, my office analyzed the $155 million the city budgeted for anti-violence work, showing that only 21% is being used for intervention work that is expected to have an impact in the short term, within 1-3 years. And right now, my office is working on analyzing trends in clearance and conviction rates, looking at data from the criminal justice system in our city to see what needs to change to bring the violence down.
I have not shied away from challenging the status quo when it comes to government operations. My office released an analysis of on-time trash collection, showing the inequity in service delivery across neighborhoods even pre-pandemic, and I have been vocal about the inhumane conditions at our city prison facilities, and made several calls for action to fix this. Improving these core functions is key to creating a government that works for everyone in our city.
While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, I know we have more work to do. My office has begun a special review of police spending, looking at operational and resource deployment and comparing Philadelphia to other police departments across the country. My hope is that this audit moves us forward to reimagine policing and public safety, to make improvements so that all of our people feel safe when, historically, that has not been the case. We have several other performance audits and special reviews in the pipeline that will focus on city operations, and I’m excited to share more about these projects in the coming weeks and months.
Right now, our city is facing so many challenges – historically high gun violence and homicides, opioid-related deaths are up, people experiencing homelessness, empty storefronts, failures of basic service delivery. And there are long-standing challenges too, like Philadelphia’s status as the poorest big city in the country. Despite these challenges, I believe in Philadelphia. We are a resilient city, an amazing city – the people, our neighborhoods, our restaurants, our arts and culture, our sports teams. That’s what makes Philadelphia special and that’s the Philadelphia I love.
At the same time, I know a better Philadelphia is possible – a Philadelphia that uplifts and inspires its people. But our government needs to work in order for that to happen, and right now, it doesn’t. That’s what drives me every day and that’s why I ran for City Controller. In my second term, I promise to be bold and continue fighting for our city and the people who make our city great.
I want to thank the people that have helped me, as I did not do this alone. I want to thank my husband, Dave, for his endless support, and my daughter Julia, for all the missed evenings so that I can do this work. To my team – I am so proud of the work we have done over these last four years. Without you, none of this would be possible. Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ‘Fight for the things you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.’ I’m honored you’ve joined me in this fight.”
After a successful first term, Controller Rhynhart ran unopposed in both the primary and general elections. Rebecca Rhynhart is the first woman elected to serve as Philadelphia City Controller.