What does Mayor Nutter and Governor Tom Corbett have in common? Besides being bed partners in the destruction of Philadelphia’s public education system, both politicians have opted to choose funding security over education. Over the past couple of gubernatorial budgets, Governor Tom Corbett has been chastised for cutting public education funding and diverting that money into prison expansion projects. On the other hand, Mayor Nutter has decided to pour millions of taxpayer dollars into a Department of Homeland Security fusion center, which has been used to spy on citizens, while neglecting the education crisis in the city. To read more on the relation between fusion centers and public education funding in Philadelphia, please read and sign the petition that was started by Dustin Slaughter of Stop ’84. .
It’s time for Mayor Nutter and City Council to fund city schools, not city surveillance.
The Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC) is a $20 million fusion center located in South Philadelphia. It is part of a network of at least 74 centers across the U.S. that gather a wide variety of information collected from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as well as the private sector.
A bipartisan Senate report issued in 2012 strongly criticized fusion centers – including the DVIC itself – as wasteful and ineffectual. Harold “Skip” Vandover, a former director at the Department of Homeland Security’s reporting branch, is quoted in the report with regards to the actionable “intelligence” being fed to analysts at fusion centers:
“There were times when it was, ‘What a bunch of crap is coming through.’”
The report also pointed out serious threats to civil liberties fusion centers pose to all of us. Republican Senator and U. S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chairperson Tom Coburn blasted fusion center performance:
“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties.”
At a time when the city of Philadelphia is facing an enormous budget shortfall and is closing nearly thirty public schools, we believe the $10 million our city used to fund the center does not reflect the needs of a city in crisis, and that this money can be better spent on education and Philadelphia’s most under-served communities.