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January 08, 2016

After I win Powerball this weekend, Philly will get $100 million

You can do a lot of good with hundreds of millions of dollars

Thinking about buying Powerball tickets? Don’t waste your time. I already got this thing won.

Wait. Let me walk that first part back a little bit. While I’m most certainly poised to clear roughly 320 million lump-sum dollars after taxes and whatnot come Saturday, I’d never advise you not to purchase a $2 slip of paper that enables you to dream of a cash-infused life.

That is why – despite all their flaws – lotteries are good thing. For what it costs to pick up a food-cart hot dog, visions of brighter futures for you and yours push day-to-day worries temporarily aside, if only in a whimsically detached sense.

Call me selfish all you want, but I reckon I’ll hold onto $220 million of my Powerball winnings. Houses – nay, mansions – in Barcelona, Paris, Rio and Tahiti aren’t cheap, and these are things I will want for my family.

I will also buy socks without holes in the heels, a tricked-out El Camino, a bar (at which customers will not be subjected to pickles next to, or on, their sandwiches) and tickets for every soccer match in which Lionel Messi plays.

But because I love this city so much – bad Mummer seeds notwithstanding – I will establish a $100 million fund for Philly-focused entities or projects that need a financial boost.

There are two ways to go about disbursing these monies: A few small grants or a slew of larger ones.

Upon deeper reflection, and considering big-ticket items like education and public safety are what ails Philly most, I’m of the mind that the former approach would be better.

During his mayoral campaign, Jim Kenney put a $60 million price tag on universal pre-K. This is an important step to getting Philadelphia’s youth on the path to a better-educated life.

I will not fully fund this program, though. It’d eat up 60 percent of the Powerball-loot pile. So, I’m going to set aside $50 million for schools in Philadelphia, the first $5 million of which will go to my son’s school – without requiring my name appear on any new buildings! – and the next $20 million to the pre-K fund.

That leaves $25 million to spread throughout the 218 schools and 8,443 teachers within the Philadelphia School District. So, let's give a $3,000 grant to each public school teacher in Philly to help improve their classrooms.

With education getting its fair share of the Powerball pot, it's time for public safety.

Let’s start with police staffing, notably the shortfall within the Accident Investigation Unit that leaves enforcement lagging and hit-and-run solve rates lower than they should be. With a starting salary of $45,000, AID gets 10 new officers, with an extra fifty grand for office supplies, a new car or something.

After Thursday night’s attempted assassination of Officer Jesse Hartnett in West Philadelphia, each of Philly’s estimated 6,600 sworn officers gets a $500 stipend for a high-quality vest and other protective gear.

The public safety grant will reach $5 million with a $1.2 million investment in the Civil Affairs Unit, expanding the Police Advisory Commission with a field office in each of the city’s 21 districts and other means that people with more expertise than I see fit. Might as well throw in an extra $10 million for the Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, as well.

We’re down to $35 million, which isn’t enough to tackle any of the large-scale infrastructure demands in town.

To that end, I put out a call on Twitter for suggestions of where folks would want to see me distribute money. Some wiseacres opted to suggest the never-happening prospect of me pumping money into the Mummers Parade.

Others, however, were more thoughtful. As in, they suggested helping boost voter turnout and accessibility to the polls:

Providing enough funding to offset the cost of prospective Open Streets PHL events:

and, among other things, helping homeless veterans:

These are good ideas that I will help financially ($20 million for the veterans and $3 million for voter efforts, $2 million for open streets) but only after setting aside $10 million in an interest-bearing account so as to ensure this money doesn’t disappear as quickly as it would if this guy won the big prize:

Hookers and cocaine aren't for everybody. So what's the moral of this story? 

Enjoy dreaming of Powerball victories of your own, but when you don't win, take solace in the fact that I'll do a whole heck of a lot of good for Philly. Be on the right side of history: Root for me to win it all.