"If we have more information -- better information -- we can make better choices and build a better Philadelphia."
I have been very busy since my campaign for City Controller ended, but I have not been sharing my thoughts via email or web and some have reached out to let me know that they missed my many messages. I hope this conduit gives you an update about what I am up to and initiates what I hope will be a regular (but not so frequent) communication from me on the issues that face our city. In this way, I will look forward to continuing the conversation I have had with so many over my years of advocacy and engagement in Philadelphia. Please do respond, comment, or vent — my favorite part of putting my messages out has always been receiving messages back.
So whatever happened to Brett Mandel? After the very busy weeks before the primary election, I finally had a chance to spend some time with my family, enjoy some vacation, and try to get my baseball swing back into mid-season form. I had endless fun being a husband and daddy for much of the summer -- I helped my eldest prepare a monologue for performing-arts camp, taught my middle child how to ride a two-wheeler, and worked with my three-year old to take his first unsteady swimming strokes.
After years of listening to my kids' urging, I finally built them a treehouse! (I think that when I tell most people that I "built a treehouse" they think that is a euphemism for something else like saying "I bought the farm," but the kids now have an honest-to-goodness little house in the tree to call their very own.) Following my weeks in the tree, vacation was very refreshing. The only downside to the summer was that after missing spring training, my baseball swing was just not the same and I had a lousy season at the plate — but it is always great to get out on the field.
When my summer of leisure (that was also a summer catching up on a lengthy "honey-do" and “daddy-do” list) ended, I was very excited to pursue a new professional challenge and I am happy to have found a remarkable position. I am now leading the work of the National Education Technology Funding Corporation, a Congressionally recognized nonprofit organization that works to help local school districts utilize newly established mechanisms for interest-free financing of school construction and renovation. After so many years of advocacy in Philadelphia, this new position will allow me to dust off my public-finance education, gain some new expertise, and broaden what has been a hyper-Philadelphia focus to consider a much larger world. All will be good for me personally and professionally.
This certainly does not mean that I am pulling back my civic engagement in Philadelphia. I am not. I have taken on a leadership role on the Board of Directors of one of my favorite non-profit organizations and have become involved with a few other worthy organizations. Under the heading of "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" I became a committeeperson to see how city politics looks at the most local level. And, like a moth to flame, I have not been able to resist helping other reformers with some behinds-the-scenes advice and information in support of tax reform, ethics changes, and budgetary transparency.
Moving forward, I will look forward to pushing for change in Philadelphia as a hobby, not as a vocation.