Contact: B. P. Kelly, Publicist (570-417-1668)
Date: November 19, 2014
Re: Wilkes-Barre Mayoral Elections 2015
Written by Brian W. Kelly in its entirety. press may attribute all quotes.
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MAYORAL CANDIDATE BRIAN W KELLY DISCUSSES PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
A. Citizen Action Groups.
Citizen Action Groups are commonly referred to as Community Organizations and in larger cities than Wilkes-Barre, there is a team of people working among them. The workers are known as Community Organizers. As I announced last week, community action groups will be a major part of my administration. I look forward to lending a helping hand to groups that have, as their primary goal, the betterment of the city as a whole as well as the people as a whole.
As of now, I do not see a pressing need to have a Chinese Action Group, or an Irish Action Group, or an African American Action Group, or a German Action Group or a Spanish Action Group. I am most interested however, in having a Safe City Action Group; an Affordable City Action Group, and a Clean City Action group. There may be others needed as we become successful in tackling the most basic needs of the city.
When we have made progress on these three major goals of my campaign, if we have believe we have a racial concern in the city, we will address it internally first. We will then seek input from the citizens at large. This is a city for all citizens of all races, creeds, and color, and our objective is to treat all citizens even handedly.
In grade school we learned, and in high school our learning was reinforced that it took quite a while from the Founding for America to get its equality act together. When we got all minds thinking alike during the time of the Civil War, we were finally able to get the job done with vigor. To this end, we changed our Constitution and assured from there-on equality of opportunity for all citizens of the United States of America would be a given.
The first mention of the term, race, creed or color in America appears to have taken place in 1864, in the context of a Civil War era hospital known as the Protestant Hospital in Milwaukee. - Feel free to examine this URL: www.firstmention.com/racecreedcolor/#sthash.16qf8dlM.dpuf.
The exact phrase actually was from the hospital's even handed approach to those in need of services: Patients are received without distinction of country, color or religion. A derivative of this phrase struck a chord for those fair minded people who wanted an easy way to say that it does not matter what you look like; where you are from; or which God you honor; for you will be treated "even handedly."
A January 19, 1866 Senate Resolution is the first official use of these words:
"Resolved, that in reestablishing federal relationships with the communities lately in rebellion, so as to permit them again to participate in administering the general government, the following are necessary, and proper requirements, and ought to be secured by such measures as will render them, as far as possible, immutable:
1. The absolute renunciation of all the pretensions and evasion of secessions, as a doctrine and a practice.
2. The repudiation by the state and by the national government of all public debts and obligations, including State and municipal liabilities contracted or assumed in aid of the late rebellion and including, also, all claims by or on behalf of those, who were in the military or naval service, of the insurgents for bounty, pay or pensions, and all claims by persons not loyal to the United States for damages suffered by reason of the rebellion, and for the advances made in its aid.
3. The assurances of human rights, to all persons within their borders, regardless of race, creed, or color and the adoption of such provisions, against barbarism, disorder, and oppression as will relieve the general government from the necessity of standing guard, over any portion of our country, to protect the people from any domestic violence and outrage."
B. What is a Public Safety Director?
A Public Safety Director: Such positions are necessary where there is major crime that occurs too frequently and the police force is not prepared to keep the city safe. As well intentioned as WB Police Officers surely are, we have a proportionally high enough murder rate to be compared to New York and Chicago. The Public Safety Director position is to make all of the other safety officers better at what they do. He or she is responsible for administrative & managerial work in directing and coordinating the City’s Public Safety Department or in our case, Police, Fire, and EMS.
The responsibilities include planning, development, and direction of a complete program of police and fire and emergency administration. The Director mission is to cooperate with State, County, and Federal officers in the apprehension of wanted persons and to prepare reports for the National Safety Council, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
C. Why a Public Safety Director?
Why a Public Safety Director: You already know why! Whatever is being done is not enough and whatever seems to be working is not working well enough. Police are not infused with a knowledge capsule upon entering the Force. They must be trained and trained well to keep themselves safe, and to keep the city safe.
I have lived in Wilkes-Barre all of my life as my family and children do. We citizens know that our community has become more dangerous and from the taxes we pay, and the continual requests for more taxes, we know that our resources are limited.
To help us know that whatever we do is the right thing for the city, I have chosen a public safety director who is an experienced police officer with years of criminal investigative experience as well as supervisory experience. This includes conducting internal investigations of police officers.
The good police in our department are not interested in working with corrupt officers, and yet it is not their job to assure that corrupt officers are not on the force. With our budget, we cannot afford to have officers who do not serve Wilkes-Barre but instead look to their own interests first.
As your mayor, my attention should be directed to the city—its employees, finances, budgets, economic renewal, AND SAFETY. However, we clearly need a person to spearhead the safety initiative and coordinate with other police agencies on the state and federal level as well as local community organizations and interest groups.
D. Why Community Action Groups aka Community Organizations?
Why Community Action Groups? The best answer is that when these groups execute on behalf of the city, and do not operate on their own private agendas, because they are citizens of the community, they can be a tremendous asset to both the residents of their neighborhoods and the city at large. I believe we (citizens) know that our police resources are taxed to the limit. The homicide rate is simply unacceptable. Consequently our good police men and women are stigmatized by a couple of bad actors. Our community needs the help of citizens in every neighborhood to recognize the needs of the residents within those neighborhoods.
Community organizations and action groups would have a chain of command that could be called on by the police or public safety director for information and make neighborhoods safer. This would make performing all of the tasks required by a Mayor much easier, and the results would be substantially better that with a disinterested community.
E. How Can Community Organizations Help?
How Can Community Organizations Help: Having a vigilant public may actually be a better deterrent to crime than a first-class police department. But, I would not want to bet my life on it. So, I say unequivocally that we need both. First and foremost, we all know that community trust has been broken with all the negative press surrounding the police department and the arrest of two officers—one active and one retired. And the public still worries about what happened to all that gasoline and is it still disappearing.
As a resident and as an active observer of what goes on in Wilkes-Barre, I know and those like me know that our police are fine professional officers. They work very hard for us and we see them in action all-too-often.
In my administration, the leadership of well-focused community action groups would have an open door policy with the Public Safety Director and the transfer of information concerning safety could flow both ways. Our mutual objective would be to move the bad guys as far out of town as possible. The Mayor would be an active participant.
F. How Would These Community Groups Benefit the Public?
How Would These Community Groups Benefit US: Again, the simple answer is by being true to Wilkes-Barre, these groups will have a positive influence on what happens in City Hall. It really is that simple.
In my administration, I would refuse to permit the city to engage with community groups from outside our area. You have seen from the issues in Ferguson, Missouri recently and you have seen other issues in other cities that it is most often not the residents who create the terror for the citizens. It is the supposed helping hands from outside under the cover name of community organizers. Not in Wilkes-Barre!
Outside activist groups attempt to influence cities with their group’s agenda that may not include any of the items that any of us in Wilkes-Barre think are important. In fact, since safety is my number one priority, these groups may actually make safety an item less likely, rather than more likely to be achieved.
Consequently, I can say that one of the major benefits of Wilkes-Barre citizen community action groups is that the folks working on these committees are from our communities, and they have a stake in what happens here. Even that is not enough, however. Community organizations would be just one spoke in the wheel to take back our communities.
I would work in conjunction with the Public Safety Director, Chief of Police, police supervisors and the union to evaluate the current internal investigation system of its officers. I would fight to establish a public complaint system for all city employees who work under the banner of the city. Each complainant would be assigned an internal investigation number and be contacted within 48 hours of making that complaint. I am sure some type of systems exist currently. However, I believe that the system must be made available to all citizens who feel they have a legitimate complaint. All complaints will be investigated thoroughly.
G. Do We Need a Police Oversight Panel?
Do We Need a Police Oversight Panel: The answer is the same as the answer to the question, do flies have wings? Of course we do, unless you spend 8 hours a day in the city’s official chambers. The answer is yes.
When you are not one of the in-crowd at City Hall, do you wonder if anybody who we pay so well actually cares about John Q. Public from Wilkes-Barre? Who cares if the police do or do not do their jobs? Who cares if the city street cleaning machines go through the neighborhoods with brushes up so they do not have to clean the brushes at shift end? Who cares if some financial tricks are used, legally or perhaps not, to renew huge loans that can easily cause the city to fall into distress status? Who cares if some corrupt police or city officials sell gas out of the citys pump or if they put their hands on a few goodies from merchants for permitting illicit activities to go on in plain sight? Who cares? If somebody cared, how could these things happen? Will four more years on top of twelve in the bank bring the answer to this blazing question: Who cares?
Some may characterize me as a man with no experience but my experience is vast. Check out my resume on my web site, www.briankellyformayor.com. Ask others to put their resumes where you can see them. I do like to have fun just like the next guy but I have a big and honorable serious side as, for example, I have been married for 39 years to the same woman and I love her to pieces today, just as I did 46 years ago when we met.
As mayor, I would empanel a review committee of all substantiated complaints against an officer. We’re not looking for trouble but if it exists, it does not belong in Wilkes-Barre. This committee would consist of the Public Safety Director, Chief of Police, Internal Affairs Supervisor, and a Union representative. The community organizations would have input through the Public Safety Directors office if the complaint involved an accusation an issue of public trust.
As mayor, I would then review all input and make my decision on the degree of discipline that should be taken. If it is determined that a criminal offense was committed the panel would make recommendations to turn the matter over to the proper agency for investigation. We may need all the help we can get from the State and the Feds, but we will not stand incompetent to the bad things that surround us.
Conclusion: Our neighborhoods have changed over the years, much to our mutual chagrin. They have become less safe due to many factors—most of which we as citizens have no control. I have watched the Wilkes-Barre neighborhoods in which I have lived and in which I now live, decline and my city falter, due to poor leadership and failed policies. We can do better! Why settle for same old, same old? Can nobody do better than that? I would like you to consider please that I think I can, and I am prepared to do so when you tell me it is my time.
I believe in common sense--the common sense of the people. Common sense within government is not too common in this day and age. Our city needs your help and my help. I have offered mine. Our kids deserve a safe place to grow up. Our properties deserve a place in which their values can increase along with our safety. So, I ask all citizens to vote for common sense. Vote for Brian Kelly. I care about Wilkes-Barre because I live here, and quite frankly, I love Wilkes-Barre.