Occupation: Real Estate Developer
Bio: Treatman grew up in Lower Merion and graduated from Friends’ Central School. He majored in Design of the Environment at the University of Pennsylvania and then went to Cornell Law School where he earned his J.D. in 1986. He then moved back to Philadelphia, where he co-founded Harvest Equities, a national real estate development and investment firm. He currently lives in Germantown with his wife and three children.
Web site: http://www.treatmanforcouncil.com/
What makes you a good fit for the 8th District Council job?
When I speak to voters from Tioga to Chestnut Hill and everywhere in between, I hear the same things. People are looking for someone with a plan to fill our empty storefronts and create jobs, and they’re looking for someone who is independent of political cliques and kingmakers.
I’m a businessman, not a politician. I’ve been in the real estate industry for the past 25 years creating jobs and rebuilding neighborhoods. I have the experience and the independence to make sure public money is allocated fairly, honestly and openly.
Chestnut Hill has seen numerous zoning disputes in which the neighborhood’s economic interests have run counter to near neighbor interests. How much input should a community have into zoning decisions vs. near neighbors? What is the council person’s role in zoning disputes?
When a developer asks for a zoning variance, community input is essential, and projects should not go forward until the community has been briefed and has had a chance to provide feedback.
When a dispute arises between near neighbors and the larger community, a district City Council member must provide an open mind and a ready ear to listen to competing interests. Many factors will need to be considered: whether the development requires zoning relief, the private property rights that may be impaired and the public good to be created. Ultimately, it is the role of the district Council member to provide leadership to build consensus where possible and reach the most well considered result.
How can the city balance the needs to encourage small businesses and keep residents’ taxes low and services running?
In my vision we can do all three. The key to maintaining city services is not to increase the burden on city residents and businesses, but to bring more of them into the tax base. My plan for economic development (which you can read at TreatmanForCouncil.com/economic-development) calls for returning to the steady reductions in wage and business tax that were in place under Mayors Street and Rendell. It also focuses on reducing the burdens on small businesses that keep them from locating in Philadelphia.
The good news is that we know people want to be here. Philadelphia surprised the experts and gained population over the past ten years and we need to encourage more people to move here. When we have more citizens and more job-creating small businesses here, we will have the resources we need to meet our responsibilities.
The city’s public schools seem to be in a near constant state of crisis. What steps do you think the city should take to improve city public schools?
We have to start with the realization that our school system is controlled by the School Reform Commission, which is effectively controlled by the state government. Governor Corbett has proposed huge cuts that will change public education as we know it, so our first job is damage control. I will work to partner with other communities affected by these cuts to claw back as much money as we can. I will also work to make sure that our excellent teachers and talented staff members feel supported, and that shifts in resources do not shortchange public schools.
My first priority is protecting our public schools, which is why I oppose vouchers. I support charter schools because they give parents free options. But charters need far more critical oversight and they shouldn’t be subject to sweetheart deals as has happened recently in the takeover of Martin Luther King High School.
Polls have shown that voters are fed up with politics and distrustful of government. What would you do as a councilperson or are you doing as a candidate to address the corrosion
As a candidate, I have worked to engage voters directly, and I have taken my message straight to the doors, TVs, phones and laptops of the people. We have knocked on the doors of more than 17,000 voters and my wife Ronit and I have personally knocked on more than 2,000 doors. I have far more detail about my positions on my website than any of my opponents because I believe that voters deserve to know exactly where I stand.
As a member of City Council I’ll bring new ideas and an independent voice to City Hall. I plan to open a district office and hold regular office hours and town hall meetings. I call for term limits because our elected officials serve, on average, longer than those of any big city in America, and the result has been an ossified City Council. In my government reform paper (TreatmanForCouncil.com/economic-development), I call for a more open and accountable government and fairer, more inclusive elections. I believe these reforms will begin to restore the voters’ faith in our elected leaders.
Finally, the DROP program has made a lot of headlines for what can best be described as abuse by city officials who retire for a day in order to collect large cash payments. What is your attitude about DROP? If you are elected will you support for City Council President anyone who has entered the DROP program?
I was the first candidate to say that I will not vote for anyone for City Council president who has taken a DROP payout and refused to retire. It is unacceptable that our elected representatives have taken advantage of a loophole in a program they created at a time when the city is facing a looming pension crisis. When it comes to rank and file city workers, DROP should be reformed so that it is revenue neutral, or provides savings to our pension system. If this cannot be done, the program must be terminated. City Council members who have taken the DROP should retire as promised. Period.