Bill Greenlee was born, raised and still lives in Fairmount.
Before entering politics, he studied journalism at Temple in the 1970's. He had dreams of being a sportswriter. While still in college, however, he began volunteering for David Cohen's campaign for city council. He wound up working for councilman Cohen for the next 26 years. After Cohen passed away in 2005, Greenlee won a special election to fill Cohen's position. He was re-elected in 2007 and 2011.
"Sometimes I think, 'I could be covering the World Series instead of being at City Hall getting yelled at,'" Greenlee said with a laugh.
He loves his job, he added, especially helping people who need help the most. He's worked on legislation to ensure people's homes are not stolen from them (which was surprisingly easy). He crafted a bill that said victims of domestic violence could not lose their jobs because of missed time due to the violence. And his most recent accomplishment was getting an earned sick pay bill through council (it now waits for the mayor's reaction).
"The actions of city council affect people on a more day-to-day basis than that of Congress or the Senate," Greenlee stated.
But there tends to be very little coverage of city council, he said. The newspapers pay attention to the mayor and political controversy (rather than the substance of bills). Television almost never covers council.
"There are times when I get frustrated," Greenlee admitted.
Much of this is determined by how we communicate these days. There are more ways for people to get information now, so there is greater competition for viewers. Less-intriguing news - like council actions, gets bypassed.
When Greenlee has stories he really wants covered, he'll hold a press conference or reach out to specific journalists who he knows would be interested. If stories pertain to specific audiences or specific neighborhoods, he taps into those niche outlets like the Northeast Times or WURD.
When he was a college journalism student, he was instructed to read everything because it's important for all journalists to have at least a little knowledge about everything.
"I'm disappointed by how little young people know about local government," he said about modern youth.
You should be interested and engaged, he said.
What did you think of the councilman and his ideas?
6 months ago