Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

  • Good morning, everyone. It appears we have established a quorum. Council shall come to order. I'll ask all guests and visitors to please retire behind the rail. Thank you so much.

    To give our invocation this morning, the Chair recognizes Pastor Bill Golderer of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church. He is here today as the guest of Councilwoman Brown.

    I would ask all guests and visitors to please rise, and members.

  • (Members and guests rise.)

  • (Good morning.)

  • I bring you greetings from two communities, the Arch Street Presbyterian Church located at the corner of 18th and Arch and the Broad Street Ministry where I also am privileged to serve, where over 500 Philadelphians will gather for lunch today, and I hope you'll all come down some time and eat with us.

    I'm joined today by Ms. Valerie Gay, the Executive Director of the Art Sanctuary, because as I was preparing for this, we knew that today you needed a jolt of inspiration, and so we're going to hopefully, with God's help, provide that for you.

    So will you join me in prayer. Let us pray.

    God of steadfast promises and divine issuer of challenges, we give you thanks for waking us up this morning. We give you thanks for the opportunity that you have given us this day to be a blessing to other people. We give you thanks for the countless people in our lives who made real sacrifices so that we may enter this Chamber.

    Faced with daunting challenges but also with unfathomable opportunities to do something of real significance, God, we ask that you guide us today. Guide us so that we do not squander what we've been given. Open us now to new possibilities. Strengthen us to persevere through the problems, and soften us to our adversaries, but always harden our resolve to advocate for those who are vulnerable and innocent, the children, the aging, and those who need us to embody hope because they are consumed by despair.

    Ignite in us a new passion to be of service. Inspire us when we are tired or weak or worn. Implant within us a bold new idea this day. Gift us with a breakthrough, a way forward that carries us past pettiness and selfishness and small-mindedness. Help us always to return to you for pardon when we stray, knowing that as we go through this world, you go with us, providing us everything we need to be the people this beautiful and troubled city needs us to be.

    Amen.

  • (Ms. Gay singing "My Living Shall not be in Vain.")

  • (Applause.)

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you. Ms. Gay, if you have some time this evening, if you'd like to stop by "Council Has Talent," I'm sure we can use you. It will be a pleasant distraction from some of our skits that we're going to be putting on.

    Thank you so much today.

    The next order of business is the approval of the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, February 14th, 2013.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee for a motion.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, February 14th, 2013 be approved.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The Journal is approved. Thank you.

    The next order of business is the request for leaves of absence.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the majority, there are no requests for leaves of absence today.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the republicans, there are no requests for leave of absence.

  • Thank you, sir.

    I will now dispense with the regular order of business and I would like to welcome and thank all of our visitors today. We hope that your experience today is a pleasurable one. We actually hope we can actually follow up on that wonderful rendition, probably not, but we'll give it our best shot. So I want to again thank you all so much for coming to see your government in action.

    At this time, I would like to recognize Councilwoman Tasco, who will present a resolution honoring Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on its 100th Anniversary. Would Maxine Harvey and those accompanying her please join the Councilwoman at the podium.

    And we also have Councilwoman Brown joining the Councilwoman.

  • Honoring Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on its 100th Anniversary.

    Whereas, on January 13th, 1913, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC, Winona Cargile Alexander

  • Madree Penn White, Wertie Blackwell Weaver, Vashti Turley Murphy

  • Ethel Cuff Black, Frederica Chase Dodd, Osceola Macarthy Adams

  • Pauline Oberdorfer Minor, Edna Brown Coleman, Edith Mott Young

  • Marguerite Young Alexander, Naomi Sewell Richardson, Eliza P. Shippen

  • Zephyr Chisom Carter, Myra Davis Hemmings, Mamie Reddy Rose

  • Bertha Pitts Campbell, Florence Letcher Toms, Olive Jones, Jessie McGuire Dent

  • Jimmie Bugg Middleton, and Ethel Cart Watson founded Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; and

    Whereas, in just weeks after its inception, the founders of this illustrious organization participated in their first collective act of public service, marching in the Women's Suffrage March in Washington, DC and, through this early act, Delta Sigma Theta established its legacy as a sisterhood called to serve; and

  • Whereas, the twenty-two founders envisioned an organization that would use their collective strength to promote academic excellence, provide scholarships, provide assistance to persons in need, educate and stimulate participation in the establishment of positive public policy, and to highlight issues and provide solutions for problems in their communities; and

  • Whereas, Delta Sigma Theta has been incorporated since 1930 and now boasts more than 200,000 members with over 900 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan, Germany, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and the Republic of Korea; and

  • Whereas, the major programs of our sorority are based upon the organization's Five Point Thrust of: Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement; and

  • Whereas, Delta Sigma Theta is highly recognized for its commitment to sisterhood, community service, and the creation and implementation of programs that support the mission of Delta; and

  • Whereas, some of our nation's most exceptional women who helped mold a legacy to make Delta Sigma Theta a powerful force include Sadie T.M. Alexander, Ph.D., civil rights activist Dr. Dorothy Height and Myrlie Evers-Williams, founder of HUD and Health and Human Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris and former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, and Carrie Meek; now, therefore

  • Now, therefore, be it resolved, by the Council of the City of Philadelphia, that we recognize and honor Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to members of Delta Sigma Theta as an expression of the sincere sentiment of this legislative body.

    This resolution was introduced by Councilwomen Tasco and Brown and supported by all members of City Council. Thank you all very much, and welcome this august group, who are just outstanding women doing wonderful things in this city and throughout this country.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Ms. Harvey for remarks.

  • Good morning, everyone.

  • (Good morning.)

  • I am Maxine C. Harvey, President of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority celebrates 100 years of service, scholarship, and sisterhood, founded in 1913 by 22 young Howard University college students. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has more than 250,000 members and 1,000 chapters worldwide.

    Notable Philadelphians are, just to name a few, Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander, economist and lawyer, who served as the first national President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Judge Juanita Kidd Stout, activist for whom the Criminal Justice Center was renamed in her honor; Dr. Constance E. Clayton, former Superintendent of Philadelphia schools, has in her honor an endowed professorship at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education; and Lila B. Green, founder of Ivy League School and philanthropist.

    Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter chartered in 1927 follows the mission and programs of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to educate and participate in the establishment of public policy and to highlight issues and provide solutions for problems in our community.

    On behalf of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter, we thank City Council sorors Councilwomen Marian Tasco and Blondell Reynolds Brown for this prestigious honor.

    I now introduce to you Sandra Brockington Gould, President of the Quaker City Alumnae Chapter.

  • (Applause.)

  • (Good morning.)

  • Council President Darrell Clarke, District Councilmembers, and Councilmembers at-large, greetings to soror Marian B. Tasco and soror Blondell Reynolds Brown, other special guests in attendance, and to my sorors. The members of Quaker City Alumnae Chapter are among this prestigious group here.

    On behalf of the 200 members of Quaker City Alumnae Chapter, I humbly accept this proclamation that recognizes the centennial of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated - 100 years of fighting for voters rights, 100 years of fighting for women's and civil rights, 100 years of fighting for advancement in education for all peoples, 100 years of transforming lives and impacting communities. The members of Quaker City Alumnae Chapter are proud to use their collective strength to promote excellent programs that provide assistance to our citizens in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

    Thank you again for this wonderful honor.

  • (Applause.)

  • I would now like to introduce you to my soror Sherry Wilson Butler, President of Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter.

  • (Applause.)

  • (Good morning.)

  • On behalf of the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the home of the patriots of African decent, a monument erected in the Valley Forge National Historical Park, the only known monument on federal property, the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta wishes to thank the City Council for this proclamation.

    To the President, Mr. Darrell Clarke, to my soror, Blondell Reynolds Brown and soror Marian Tasco, I stand in the midst of all of my sorors here today thanking you with honor and deep gratitude for this prestigious occasion. We thank you so very much. And we continue to serve Montgomery and Chester County communities.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Good morning. I'm Carolyn Clayton. I'm the President of Chester Alumnae Chapter. I'd like to welcome everyone that's here this morning, and it's just a great honor to represent the 152 members of Chester Alumnae Chapter. We serve Delaware County and the surrounding communities.

    We thank you very much for this honor. We're very appreciative, and we look forward to the next 100 years.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    I'd like to recognize Councilman Johnson briefly. Councilman.

  • Yes. Is that the last individual to give remarks?

    First and foremost, I just wanted to say all of you look great and definitely brought a smile to my face when I walked in watching all of you looking so beautiful in your red attire.

    I wanted to personally just congratulate you on this acknowledgment from Councilwoman Tasco as well as Councilwoman Brown. I have a special place in my heart for Deltas just based upon me being an undergraduate student at Mansfield University away from my neighborhood of Point Breeze, specifically 18th and Dickinson. I attended Mansfield University, which is worlds away from the inner cities of Philadelphia, and Delta took me under her wing, encouraged me to go on to University of Pennsylvania for grad school, and after I became an elected official in Harrisburg, I always participated in the Delta Day with State Representative Cherelle Parker.

    So I want to commend you for your service not only to the City of Philadelphia, not only to the United States of America, but to humanity, and also for your role in shaping the issues of public policy that affect us politically.

    So I just wanted to take time out and congratulate you and tell you to keep up the good work.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Excuse me. We have a couple of more presentations, so if we can -- it's pretty exciting. We got a little bit more business to do. Thank you. Thank you so much for your cooperation.

    At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson, who will present a resolution honoring Queen Memorial Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Would Ms. Betty Beauford and those accompanying her please join the Councilman at the podium.

    We have Councilman Greenlee, Councilwoman Bass, Councilman Oh and Councilman Green and Councilwoman Brown joining the Councilman.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Today I am privileged and honored to recognize an institution that has served as the educational bedrock of the Point Breeze community.

    When I received the notice regarding the honoring of the Queen Memorial Branch of the Free Library in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philadelphia and how it was celebrating 100 years of service, it made me think about my life as a young man growing up in Point Breeze and how I often would spend hours in the library in elementary school, in junior high school, and even when I was in high school. This library served as a laboratory of creative ideas that shaped my character, that enabled me to become the young man that I am today.

    So today I am privileged and honored in recognizing and commending the Queen Memorial Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary for its extraordinary service and dedication to the citizens of Philadelphia.

  • Whereas, with a name dating back to 1895, Point Breeze was designated as one of the original Green Countrie Towns sponsored by Philadelphia Green, a program dedicated to increasing planted urban spaces; and

  • Whereas, important neighborhood institutions include the YMCA at 17th and Christian Streets, which has served African Americans since 1989, and the Point Breeze Performing Arts Center founded in 1984; and

  • Whereas, named in honor of a Philadelphia optician, pioneer microscope maker, and philanthropist, the James W. Queen Memorial Library was founded in 1907. It was originally housed in the Hope Presbyterian Church at 33rd and Wharton Streets; and

  • Whereas, the library became the Queen Memorial Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia on December 13th, 1912, and in 1945, Queen Memorial relocated to the 1313 Point Breeze Avenue; and

  • Whereas, the Queen Memorial Branch opened on Tuesday, January 17th, 1995 in the Landreth Apartments. Mamie Nichols, Executive Director of the Point Breeze Foundation, was a prime leader involved in the 1995 renovation of the historic former Landreth Elementary School into a multi-purpose achievement center to house the Queen Memorial Branch of the Free Library, where it provides valuable services to the residents of South Philadelphia; now therefore

  • Resolved, by the Council of the City of Philadelphia, that we hereby honor, recognize and commend the Queen Memorial Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary for its extraordinary service and dedication to the citizens of Philadelphia.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to the Queen Memorial Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia as evidence of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body. And I want to officially present this citation on behalf of the members of City Council officially to the Queen Memorial Branch Library of Point Breeze, South Philadelphia.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Ms. Beauford for remarks.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the hard work and dedication of Ms. Betty Beauford, who was a lifelong resident and community advocate in the Point Breeze community, who played a major role in making sure that when this library was on the chopping block based upon some decisions that were proposed by the Administration, she advocated to members of City Council. And I could not stand here without acknowledging the work of my colleague Councilman Green in making sure that this particular library stayed open.

    So I just want to personally say thank you, Ms. Beauford.

  • You're welcome. Thank you.

    President Clarke, City Council, good morning, and the gallery, good morning. Honorable Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, thank you.

    We, the Queen Memorial Library, accept this resolution in the honor and spirit it was given. Thank you, Councilman Johnson.

    The Queen Memorial Library started December the 13th, 1912 to December the 13th, 2012. The Queen Memorial Library has been 100 years old as a free library. We had a centennial celebration December the 13th, 2012. It was from noon to 3:00 p.m. The celebration was very, very nice. I just wish you all could have been there. We had a very, very good time.

    Queen Memorial Library has served in two communities, Grays Ferry for 33 years, Point Breeze for 67, and still remains in Point Breeze this day. The library is the fabric of our community.

    We all know what libraries are about, but I always still love it for children, because children can go and read books and dream dreams and can take their selves out of whatever problems there are without leaving the building. Good source, good source, good source.

    We can also -- they can also explore their horizons, just to be. They can do homework. It's also a safe haven for our children. But we just love it. We just love it. And they can do homework. And the library has many other projects that we do in our community. The library serves our community in so many ways. You go and read the morning newspaper or the magazine O.

    Hello?

    There's just so many things that we can do, and I don't have all the time this morning to just say what we really, really want to say. I'm trying to capitalize everything in a few moments, because I know everybody has other obligations and has other life to attend. But I just want to say thank you.

    You can also do job resumes. You can do community meetings in the library and so much other stuff. And I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you so much. At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Jones, who will present a resolution honoring Philadelphia's living legends. Would Ms. Emma Chappell and those accompanying her please join the Councilman at the podium.

  • (Applause.)

  • And also joining the Councilman is Councilman Goode, Councilwoman Blackwell, Councilwoman Tasco, Councilwoman Bass, and Councilman Johnson and Councilwoman Brown.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    Carter G. Woodson in 1926 founded Negro History Week. It evolved into Black History Month, and here in Philadelphia, right here locally, we could name names that range from Lucien Blackwell to unknown, some unsung people like Charlie "Boo" Burrus, people we know like David P. Richardson, Roxanne Jones, Kentu and others who have passed along this way. But with living legends, they're here and can understand what they mean to us here in Philadelphia and a part of our rich history.

    Before there was a President Barack Obama, there was a Delta named Shirley Chisholm. Before there was a Mayor Wilson Goode, there was a Charlie Bowser, who paved the way.

  • (Applause.)

  • And a Hardy Williams before him. Before there was a Marian Tasco, there was a John White, Jr. Before Evelyn Smalls, there was Dr. Emma Chappell, and before -- there you go.

  • (Applause.)

  • And before there was Councilman Curtis Jones, there was my Madeline Dunn.

  • (Applause.)

  • You see, in black history, sometimes history is made one page at a time, and as we turn those pages, we should never forget the previous chapter. Someone will some day certainly write Philadelphia's history, particularly in the African American community, and we can never forget the chapters we see here today.

    I am very grateful to count these heroes and sheroes as my personal mentors and even friends. One of them will even say they babysat me. I won't point out which one it was. But we're grateful for them, and as many Councilpeople you see here, they've mentored and befriended them as well.

    So we're here to honor living legends today.

    Honoring and celebrating Philadelphia's living legends Henry Nicholas, Nellie Reynolds, Madeline Dunn, John F. White, Jr., Reverend Albert F. Campbell, Acel Moore, Audrey Johnson-Thornton, Will Daniels, Dr. Bernard Anderson and Dr. Emma Chappell in the areas of government, business, labor, journalism, religion, academia, athletics, activism, as a part of commemorating Black History Month; and

  • Whereas, Nellie Reynolds, Commissioner for the Philadelphia Housing Authority, served as a leader for nearly 40 years in advocacy for public housing residents' rights and responsibilities. In 1969, Ms. Reynolds created the nation's first resident advisory board, made up of elected tenant leaders from sites across the City. She had been a member of the PHA board since 1984 and worked closely with former Mayor John F. Street on low-income housing issues; and

  • Whereas, Madeline Dunn, a resident of West Philadelphia all her life, as well as an outspoken community activist for over 50 years, Ms. Dunn also served as Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Philadelphia Congress of National Congress of Black Women in 1988. Ms. Dunn led a protest against the closing of the 54th Street Firehouse and recently spoke out against the former republican President nominee Mitt Romney -- I know he heard -- visiting to the West Philadelphia area in May of 2012. Ms. Dunn has devoted her entire life to organizing members of her community and fighting for justice and equality opportunities for people of color in Philadelphia; and

  • Whereas, the Reverend Dr. Albert Franklin Campbell has been pastor of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia for 46 years. He has led the congregation under his two-pronged vision to bring souls to Christ by preaching the Word and to provide the leadership to further advance Mt. Carmel as a guiding force for the people of the congregation and the community. From the beginning of his tenure, Reverend Campbell established the important process of analyses and planning that has been a hallmark of the Campbell Pastorate, and he remains a strong advocate for education, particularly of pastors attending college and seminary; and

  • Whereas, this lady, Audrey Johnson-Thornton, is the founder and President of the American Women's Heritage Society founded in 1986, and leads efforts to restore and maintain Belmont Mansion, one of our city's most historic buildings in the Philadelphia Fairmount Park. Ms. Johnson-Thornton also led major renovations for the Underground Railroad Museum, which was opened to the public in 2007 right there at the Belmont Mansion. The American Women's Heritage Society is the only African American women's organization to administer a historic mansion in Fairmount Park; and

  • (Applause.)

  • And whereas, this lady's father, Will Daniels, founder of Wilco Cable Systems, is the President and founder of one of the nation's few remaining African American-owned cable and telecommunication companies. In 1990, Wilco Electronic Systems, Incorporated was granted a franchise by Home Box Office, the first franchise awarded to a minority-owned firm in the United States, in the Eastern United States. Mr. Daniel negotiated an affiliation agreement with Rollins Cablevision of Philadelphia. He then became a 5 percent owner of the Rollins system and was appointed Vice-President in charge of installation and service. Wilco Electronic Systems has been the primary cable and Internet provider for Philadelphia Housing Authority projects, and continues to offer mainstream offerings at a more affordable cost for low-income Philadelphians in other ways; and

  • Whereas, Emma Carolyn Chappell founded United Bank of Philadelphia in 1992 --

  • (Applause.)

  • -- by 3 million in start-up capital through shares sold to the black community. Ms. Chappell is the first African American woman in the United States to start a commercial bank from scratch. Under her leadership, the United Bank of Philadelphia grew in eight years to assets more than 140 million with eight branches, 24 automated teller machines and 100 employees. Prior to starting United Bank, Ms. Chappell was tapped by Reverend Jesse Jackson to become treasurer of his presidential campaign in 1984. She was also instrumental in helping to found Operation PUSH, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving financial equality for minorities; and

  • Be it resolved, by the Council of the City of Philadelphia, that it hereby honors and celebrates Philadelphia's living legends, Henry Nicholas, Nellie Reynolds, Madeline Dunn, John F. White, Jr., the Reverend Albert F. Campbell, Acel Moore, Audrey Johnson-Thornton, Will Daniels, Dr. Bernard E. Anderson and Emma Chappell in the areas of government, business, labor, journalism, religion, academia, athletics, and activism, as part of the commemoration of Black History Month; and

  • Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to Philadelphia's living legends as evidence of our sincere admiration of this entire legislative body.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Ms. Chappell for remarks.

  • Thank you, President Clarke, and certainly I want to recognize all of the Councilpeople that made this occasion what it is today.

    I have to tell you, on behalf of all of my fellow honorees, we deeply appreciate being recognized as living legends in the City of Philadelphia. I think all of you know that wasn't easy and that we didn't set out to do it. We set out to help other people, and in helping other people, we were able to accomplish a lot, with a lot of support from our family and friends who are with us today.

    I want to especially thank Councilman Jones for his, I would almost say, dogmatic approach to making sure that we have these living legends recognized every month. I think sometimes it takes one or two people to stand up and say that's what we want to have.

    In 1992, we opened United Bank of Philadelphia and I raised $6 million, not 3 million, 6 million, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and --

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you. Don't get it twisted.

    And the nice part about it was, we raised it by help from many of you who are here today, and I did it by selling stock at $10 a share. And it goes to show when you really want to do something -- and in this case I saw a need in Philadelphia. I really did. I saw a need that wasn't being addressed, where people of color would have control of their own economic destiny. So I came to many of the people who are on Council today, Tasco and all and Blackwell and all of you who helped me get the people to the table.

    My good friend, Ethel Barnett, my daughter, Tracy Carter, is here, and Betty Pryor and all of the people who helped me, because none of us up here could do it without all of you. So we really owe you an applause for being here.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • And the last thing I want to say, that our goal was to enhance the quality of life for our fellow citizens, and when I heard the song that was being sung earlier today, that is my motto. If I could help somebody, then my living would not be in vain.

    Thank you so much.

  • (Applause.)

    MS. JOHNSON-THORNTON: Good morning. What a pleasure this is to be considered a living legend. As she said, it was not the beginning purpose, but here we are 27 years later with Belmont Mansion. So it is such a pleasure that I join you to receive the most special honor for which I will treasure always.

    I would like to offer my fellow honorees a benefit heartfelt congratulations on their success and their recognition.

    I'd like to start out by sharing with you a little bit about our organization, as I have the privilege of serving as President emeritus/CEO of the American Women's Heritage Society and founded in 1986, 27 years ago. In this role, the rich African diaspora has been the foundation and interwoven tapestry of our mission. The American Women's Heritage Society is considered the crown jewel of Fairmount Park. We offer student training and self-guided tours to our Underground Railroad Museum founded, as I said, in 2007, the first of its kind in Philadelphia.

    We are a fabulous event venue and host many joyous weddings and personal celebrations throughout the year.

    I want to say thanks to our generous sponsors, the former Governor Ed Rendell, Mayor Nutter, and Councilman Jones. We are well onto the way of opening a newly built, state-of-the-art facility to host events all year long. The building has been affectionately named --

  • (Applause.)

    MS. JOHNSON-THORNTON: -- the Cornelia Wells Conference Center and Banquet Hall for the slave girl who lived and worked at the Mansion. She purchased her freedom for her and her daughter and was able to establish herself as an entrepreneur to maintain her life.

    So the history there is magnificent. Remember, we only discovered that was a connection to the Underground Railroad 12 years ago, 12 years ago and we've been there 27. So this was meant to be, believe me.

    We adopt schools to teach our children how to become docents. Global Leadership Academy is one of them. And look at my sign for me in the back. And the kids are here. Some of the kids here. Where are they? They came. Okay. So I'd like you guys to take some pictures of my kids.

    And the President and CEO, where is she, Dr. Naomi Booker, is here, and I want her to say a couple of words. Just let her say a couple of words. Come on, Dr. Booker.

  • First of all, for me to be standing on this podium with these living legends is a memory and something I will never forget. Congratulations to all of you, all of you.

  • (Applause.)

  • And also I want to thank City Council for giving my flowers to my mother now at this time. It's an awesome thing for you to do this, Councilman Jones, for all -- and the President, for all of the living legends here.

    I just want to say that we have a partnership with the Belmont Mansion, and she just wanted me to let you know that our students go there, they learn how to be museum educators. When they graduate, they can do that. And we also use the Underground Railroad as our start place for our travel to Canada as they study the Underground Railroad and travel there in May for five days and follow the Harriet Tubman route.

    So thank you very much for allowing us to have that opportunity, City Council.

  • (Applause.)

  • I'm Madeline G. Dunn, the daughter of --

  • (Applause.)

  • I love it. I love it.

    This is my baby boy, Rodney Lee Dunn. I wish his dad was here. I never imagined such a day.

    I got started -- I always talked a lot. My mother said I started walking at eight months, talking at ten months and just never stopped. I'm going and I'm talking. And I heard they were building a project in Mantua. The school, McMichael, was already overcrowded.

    Are some of the McMichael people here?

  • (Audience members yelling.)

  • All right. See, this is for you.

    The only reason I'm up here is because I like to fight. If something is wrong with my people and as I see it, as I see it -- and I don't know how God gave it to me. When I look at it like I'm telling y'all today, don't let them close these schools. You know what it do to our neighborhoods. There'll be abandoned buildings. They need to put a piece in that they got a contract with somebody to buy it.

    But we really need small classrooms. If we can have smaller classrooms, more teachers and put back music, science, et cetera, et cetera --

  • (Applause.)

  • -- we're going somewhere. Our children are going somewhere. And they won't be building penitentiaries. Come on, Council, you can do it. You can do it.

    I know y'all didn't expect all that, but that's what you get when you get Madeline Dunn.

    I thank you all so very much. This award is, whatever it is, it's not for me. It is for Homer Lane, Darrell, it is for the people who help when we call meetings for Long's Bar (ph). Who helped me with Long's Bar? Somebody out there got to be. I saw Reverend Blaylock out there. There he is right there.

    These are things that have gone on since I was 19, and I'm now 79 years old. And as long as I got breath in my body, I'm telling y'all what I think and you can accept it or reject it. But come on, y'all. You got to fight. If you don't fight, our community is going down the drain. We shouldn't let it happen.

    Thank you so very much to this Council.

  • (Applause.)

  • This is my other son. And I got about five sons out there that are just valuable, valuable because they can think and they can listen. And I'm just so pleased.

    Can I just close with a prayer?

    Father, just put your grace and mercy over this whole Council, everybody here. Bless them. Bless their family. Give them the thought to just think about it a little more before you do it and then move on to higher ground.

    Amen.

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you. The next order of business is communications. The Chair requests that the Sergeant-of-Arms deliver the messages from the Mayor to Mr. Decker.

  • There are no messages from the Mayor, Mr. President.

  • Thank you so much. Any other messages?

  • I have none, Mr. President.

  • Thank you.

    At this time, the next order of business on our calendar is the introduction of bills and resolutions.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer two privileged resolutions that I'd like to be considered today.

  • A privileged resolution honoring the rich life and loving memory of Philip E. "Knute" Bonner.

  • Thank you. That resolution will be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar.

  • And a privileged resolution honoring the proud history and one hundred year anniversary of the 1913 founding of the freedom fighting civilian militia, known as the "Irish Volunteers."

  • That resolution will also be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have no bills or resolutions today.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one bill and one resolution on your behalf.

  • An ordinance amending Title 9 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Regulation of Businesses, Trades and Professions," by adding a new Chapter, protecting social networking privacy, by prohibiting an employer from requesting or requiring access, in any manner, to an employee's or prospective employee's account or profile on a social networking site.

  • Thank you. That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And a non-privileged resolution authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to execute and deliver to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, without consideration, deeds conveying conditional fee simple title to certain City-owned lots or pieces of ground with the buildings and improvements thereon, situate in the Thirty-Second and Thirty-Seventh Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • That resolution will be placed on next week's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Henon.

  • Thank you, Council President. I offer one privileged resolution co-introduced with Councilman Squilla.

  • A privileged resolution honoring the 10th Anniversary of The Irish Memorial.

  • That resolution will be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Mr. President, I have no bills or resolutions today.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have one bill and one non-privileged resolution and would like to be acknowledged for comments on my bill.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 19-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Real Estate Taxes," by providing for hardship deferrals for taxpayers experiencing extraordinary increases in their real estate taxes.

  • Thank you. That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

    Councilman, we'll read the other resolution, then I'll recognize you.

  • And a non-privileged resolution authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to execute and deliver to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, without consideration, deeds conveying conditional fee simple title to certain City-owned lots or pieces of ground with the buildings and improvements thereon, situate in the Second and Thirty-Sixth Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • That resolution will be on next week's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    Mr. President, the bill that I just introduced addresses the issue of AVI as we go to full actual value as we do the new property assessments, which recently the process has just started, and in certain parts of my district which are facing extraordinary increases in their real estate taxes, specifically Graduate Hospital, parts of Point Breeze, residents will see their assessments jump by 500, 600, 700 and well over 1,000 percent. They will likely see their tax bills that are two, three, four, five, in some cases ten times more than what their last bill was.

    Should under-assessed properties pay their fair share? Absolutely. But we have to be realistic. These residents didn't create this system. We should recognize that some folks simply cannot afford such a drastic increase all at once.

    The bill I introduced today establishes a hardship deferment, which will allow those most affected taxpayers to enter into an arrangement with the City so that they can stay in their homes and avoid becoming tax delinquent.

    Taxpayers who see their bills increase two and a half times will have the option to defer any amount over two and a half times their previous bill until they can afford the payments or until their property changes hands.

    I am open to discussion about tweaking some of the specific variables in the bill, but I remain committed to protect residents who cannot afford drastic increases in their tax bills. Without protective measures, AVI could force honest tax-paying residents out of their homes.

    It is also crucial that we confirm the accuracy of the new assessments so that we know we have a fair process. I have received dozens of calls, I have received dozens of calls from alarmed residents who believe their assessments are drastically off.

    Before committing to AVI, we need to fully vent these new assessments. In the meantime, it is necessary to start the conversation regarding how we protect vulnerable residents who will not qualify for gentrification relief and who will not meaningfully benefit from the homestead exemption.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have one non-privileged resolution.

  • A non-privileged resolution authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to execute and deliver to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, without consideration, deeds conveying conditional fee simple title to certain City-owned lots or pieces of ground with the buildings and improvements thereon, situate in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • That resolution will be placed on next week's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Green.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I introduce one bill with Councilmember Goode.

  • An ordinance amending Section 2-305 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Office of Property Assessment; Chief Assessment Officer; Powers and Duties," by providing for standards for tax exemptions and for documenting requirements, all under certain terms and conditions.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Brien.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have no bills or resolutions today.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Goode.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer no bills or resolutions today.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one resolution this morning.

  • A non-privileged resolution supporting House Bill 548, known as the Voter Freedom and Integrity Act, which would allow early voting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  • Councilwoman, do you want that on today's Calendar?

  • All right. Ask for a suspension of the rules.

    COUNCILWOMAN Brown: I, therefore, ask for a suspension of the rules.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution will be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Two privileged resolutions, one co-sponsored by Councilwoman Bass, the other co-sponsored by Bass, Johnson, and Councilwoman Tasco.

  • A privileged resolution honoring and celebrating the Police Athletic League for their tireless efforts to provide athletic, educational, and special events and activities to all Philadelphia Youth, with a special emphasis on youth residing in disadvantaged areas of the City, on the occasion of their 40th Anniversary.

  • That resolution will be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar.

  • And a privileged resolution honoring and celebrating Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane on the occasion of being elected as Pennsylvania's first female Attorney General and for her tireless efforts and contributions toward protecting and defending Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens by closing the Florida loophole regarding its Concealed Weapon or Firearm License.

  • That resolution will also be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have no bills or resolutions.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have no bills or resolutions.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have one bill.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 12-3000 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Use Of An Automated Red Light Enforcement System To Prevent Red Light Violations," by authorizing the installation of a red light enforcement system at the intersection of Stenton Avenue and Ogontz Avenue.

  • Thank you. That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one privileged resolution.

  • A privileged resolution recognizing and honoring School Police Sergeant Tyisha Godwin for her devotion to duty by keeping students safe and school grounds secure while assigned to South Philadelphia High School.

  • That resolution will be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar.

    That concludes our introduction of bills and resolutions. The next order of business is reports from committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee for a report from the Committee on Rules.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The Committee on Rules reports one bill with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you.

    Mr. Decker, please read the report.

  • To the President and members of the Council of the City of Philadelphia, the Committee on Rules, to which was referred Bill No. 130007, entitled "An ordinance to amend the Philadelphia Zoning Maps by changing the zoning designations of certain areas of land located within an area bounded by the Philadelphia County Border, the Delaware Expressway, 86th Street, Bartram Avenue, 84th Street, Mario Lanza Boulevard, Island Avenue, Penrose Avenue, the Delaware Expressway, the Schuylkill River and the Delaware River," respectfully reports it has considered the same and returns the attached bill to Council with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair again recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bill No. 130007.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended this day as to permit first reading of Bill No. 130007.

    All those in favor say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. This will be placed on our First Reading Calendar today.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Goode for a report from the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The Committee on Commerce and Economic Development reports two bills with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you, sir.

    Thank you, Mr. Decker. Will you please read the report.

  • The Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, to which was referred Bill No. 121040, entitled "An ordinance amending Chapter 17-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled 'Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard,' by revising the definition of the employers required to comply with the minimum compensation standards established by this Chapter"; and

    Bill No. 130012, entitled "An ordinance amending Chapter 19-2600 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled 'Business Income and Receipts Taxes,' by revising the number of businesses that may obtain a credit against business income and receipts taxes upon contributing to certain community development corporations or non-profit intermediaries engaged in neighborhood economic development activities within the City of Philadelphia," respectfully reports it has considered the same and returns the attached bills to Council with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you, Mr. Decker.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Goode.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bills No. 121040 and 130012.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended this day as to permit first reading of Bills No. 121040 and 130012.

    All those in favor say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. These bills will be placed on our First Reading Calendar today.

    That concludes our reports from committee.

    At this time, we have the consideration of the Calendar. I note that the bills just reported from committee will have been deemed to have had a first reading. These bills will be placed on our Second and Final Reading Calendar next week.

    At this time, the Chair would like to -- I'm sorry. The bill will be placed on the Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar for our next session of Council.

    At this time, we would now recognize Councilman Jones for the purpose of calling up resolutions and bills on the Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The following resolutions and bills are being called up for Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar today: Nos. 130110, 130114, 120960, and 121002. All other resolutions and bills are being held.

  • Thank you.

    Before considering these bills, we will have public comment -- before considering these bills and resolutions, we will have public comment. Public comment will read as follows:

    There will be a podium in the middle of the floor. You will be given three minutes to speak. We have given you three minutes because we want to ensure that people have ample opportunity to speak on the bills and resolutions.

    The bills and resolutions that you speak must be on the Final Passage Calendar for today's agenda.

    Mr. Decker, please read the name of the first individual who wishes to testify.

  • There are no speakers on the public comment list,

    Mr. President.

  • Quite interesting. Thank you, sir.

    Thank you. Before we proceed

    with the Calendar, we have a little bit

    of housing. Mr. Decker, I understand we

    had an additional bill on the First

    Reading Calendar today.

  • Bill No. 120143,

    entitled "An ordinance amending Title 21

    of The Philadelphia Code, entitled

    'Miscellaneous,' by requiring the Finance

    Director to submit to Council, with the

    Mayor's proposed annual operating budget,

    an information technology strategic plan,

    following procedures to be adopted by the

    Managing Director."

  • Thank you. Let the record reflect that

    is on the First Reading Calendar for

    today.

    At this time, we will now call

    up bills and resolutions on the Final

    Passage Calendar. Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of 130110.

  • A resolution authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to execute and deliver to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, without consideration, deeds conveying conditional fee simple title to certain City-owned lots or pieces of ground with the buildings and improvements thereon, situate in the Sixth and Forty-Sixth Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move for the adoption.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. 130110 has been adopted.

    Mr. Decker, please read the title of 130114.

  • A resolution amending Resolution 120538, approving the annual Program Statement and Budget for the expenditure of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative Bond Proceeds for Fiscal Year 2013.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • I move for the adoption of the resolution.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. Resolution 130114 has been adopted.

    We now call up Bill No. 120960, Mr. Decker.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 21-1700 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Publication of Notices by City," by revising provisions concerning how and when certain required notices shall be published and advertised.

  • Thank you.

    This bill having been read on two separate days, the question is shall the bill pass finally.

    Mr. Decker, please call the roll.

  • Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Councilman Greenlee.

  • Councilman Johnson.

  • Councilman O'Brien.

  • Councilman O'Neill.

  • Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez.

  • Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

  • Councilman Squilla.

  • Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Council President Clarke.

  • Aye.

    The ayes are 17; the nays are zero. The bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, 121002.

  • An ordinance amending Title 10 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Regulation of Individual Conduct and Activity," to provide for the licensing of certain horses, to provide for requirements with respect to keeping certain horses, and to further provide for penalties and enforcement.

  • This bill having been read on two separate days, the question is shall the bill pass finally.

    Mr. Decker, please call the roll.

  • Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Councilman Greenlee.

  • Councilman Johnson.

  • Councilman O'Brien.

  • Councilman O'Neill.

  • Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez.

  • Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

  • Councilman Squilla.

  • Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Council President Clarke.

  • Aye.

    The ayes are 17; the nays are zero.

    Mr. Decker, do you have any additional resolutions?

  • A resolution honoring the rich life and loving memory of Philip E. "Knute" Bonner, introduced by Councilman Kenney.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • I move the adoption of the resolution.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution honoring the proud history and one hundred year anniversary of the 1913 founding of the freedom fighting civilian militia, known as the "Irish Volunteers," introduced by Councilman Kenney.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • I move the adoption of the resolution.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution honoring the 10th Anniversary of The Irish Memorial, introduced by Councilman Henon.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Henon.

  • I move for the adoption of the resolution.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is also adopted.

  • And a resolution supporting House Bill 548, known as the Voter Freedom and Integrity Act, which would allow early voting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, introduced by Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move for the adoption.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution honoring and celebrating the Police Athletic League for their tireless efforts to provide athletic, educational, and special events and activities to all Philadelphia Youth, with a special emphasis on youth residing in disadvantaged areas of the City, on the occasion of their 40th Anniversary, introduced by Councilman Jones.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move for the adoption.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution honoring and celebrating Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane on the occasion of being elected as Pennsylvania's first female Attorney General and for her tireless efforts and contributions toward protecting and defending Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens by closing the Florida loophole regarding its Concealed Weapon or Firearm License, introduced by Councilman Jones.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • I move for the adoption.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution recognizing and honoring School Police Sergeant Tyisha Godwin for her devotion to duty by keeping students safe and school grounds secure while assigned to South Philadelphia High School, introduced by Councilman Oh.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move for the adoption of the resolution.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • Oh, wow. All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • There are no other resolutions on the Final Passage Calendar, Mr. President.

  • Thank you so much. That concludes our Calendar.

    Are there any speeches on the part of the minority?

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you very much, Mr. President. I just wanted to invite the public to attend the committee hearing for workforce development for the 21st century. That will be this coming Monday, February 25th at M.A.S.T. Charter School, 1800 Byberry Road, from 10 o'clock a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    We do, as we would like the public to know, try to get out into various sections of Philadelphia to bring government to our local communities. This issue is important to everyone, of course, here in City Council, as this Council has made extensive efforts to create new jobs and new opportunities and address the need for our economy to be competitive on a global basis. So certainly anyone interested, please come.

  • Thank you so much, Councilman.

    Any -- I'm sorry. The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Brien.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday Philadelphia lost Assistant District Attorney Rachel Steamer from the Public Nuisance Task Force Unit. Rachel was a true warrior who fought a valiant battle with grace and dignity against a terrible illness.

    Rachel graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in English and attended Cardozo School of Law, where she graduated in the top third of her class. While there, she was the editor of the Cardozo Women's Law Journal.

    Prior to coming to the District Attorney's Office, she worked for a civil firm in Margate, New Jersey where she represented more than 160 victims of clergy sexual abuse in jurisdictions throughout the country. Rachel joined the District Attorney's Office in 2008. While in PNTF, Rachel handled numerous forfeiture cases, primarily in the 2nd, 22nd, and 39th Districts. She handled all of her cases, whether they resulted in a forfeiture or a settlement agreement, with an eye to improving things for law-abiding citizens whose neighborhoods were being ravaged and ruined by the narcotics trade. She truly demonstrated the best qualities of a public servant.

    Rachel is survived by her parents, her sister, her husband, her beloved Boston Terrier, Lola.

    Please keep her family and the entire DA's Office family in your thoughts and prayers.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Any speeches on the part of the majority?

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I rise on two issues. Today at 2 o'clock in the Caucus Room, there will be a briefing with Ms. Kelly B. Hodge, the Safe Schools Advocate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Commission on Crime and Delinquency for the School District of Philadelphia. Ms. Hodge will present recently leased data concerning school incidents and school safety.

    In addition, in light of recent events, she will also discuss the District's policies and protocols for student early dismissals and student visitors. So I hope all who can will be present.

    The second thing I wanted to mention was an article that appeared in the paper with regard to a state representative being snubbed for violating a dress code. As you know, Mr. President, we formed the Mayor's Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs in '05, and as you know, for at least 15 to 17 years ago, we formed Echoes of Africa that we deal with, and many of us have large constituents of Africans and Caribbeans in our district, and many of us wear African garb on occasion as we so choose.

    It is so offensive for -- it offends all right-thinking people everywhere to have a state representative not being allowed to speak, especially during Black History Month, because he did not have on a jacket and tie. He was not allowed to speak. How dare anyone offend people who live here, who choose to dress any way they choose?

    A member of my staff this evening at our program, at our show will be wearing Indian garb because her parents were born there.

    How dare somebody say that an elected official has to abide by some dress code when it comes to honest dress, when it comes to people being able to wear the clothes, the garb they continue.

    Because Representative Curtis Thomas had on a kufi and because he had on a dashiki, he was not allowed to speak. It is the most offensive thing that I can think about.

    So I certainly will be voicing my opinion in writing. I hope that many of you will join me. This is the most offensive thing I've heard of since I can remember. In 2013, people can't wear African garb, especially during Black History Month? How dare they do that. It's so offensive, and I have to rise and think about -- I would have had something prepared, but I missed the article yesterday, but I sure enough caught it today.

    Thank you very much.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I know everybody has been discussing the AVI, Actual Value Initiative, and how we're going to proceed moving forward. Several Councilmembers have come up with some ideas on some legislation, but the main goal of the AVI was supposed to be fairness and how it is fair across the board, and I think we have to concentrate right now solely on the assessment values that are going out there and making sure that we reach out to the communities and the people throughout the districts to really check into what their assessments are. And even though it doesn't have a tax value what they're going to pay on there, try to get that information and see what your taxes are, because this is really going to hit some folks really hard, and it's up to us as Council to work together to come up with solutions to try to ease this in as best as possible.

    But the issues of fairness for the reason of this can only work if these numbers are correct, and that's something I think we have to concentrate on right now. And also for the people whose taxes are going up dramatically, we need to look at ways to doing this, as Councilman Johnson's introduction today and also with -- I think we need to look into a phase-in of this process in order to make this easier, an easier burden on some of our residents.

    So I'm willing to work with all colleagues here across the board to sit down and meet about this and come up with some ideas that could really help the City as a whole in order to make this happen, because the way it is right now and some of the numbers that are out there, this is not a fair system, and we need to make sure it is before we move forward.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Brien.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to echo Councilwoman Blackwell's sentiments. As a former Speaker of the House, I would have welcomed the recognition of my friend Curtis Thomas on the floor of the House to celebrate his heritage and his culture. I remember fondly, as Councilwoman Blackwell was relating that story, of a former legislator in the personage of David Richardson, who routinely came to the floor in what we would call non-traditional attire. And I'm reminded by my colleague sitting next to me, Wilson Goode, that when David Richardson was elected to the National Black Caucus -- Organization of National Black Legislators, he wore a tuxedo, and he found that quite remarkable and funny.

    But I echo in a serious way Councilwoman Blackwell's remarks, and we should all take this as an opportunity to remember that we should all be better.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Green.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I just every few weeks feel like I need to take the opportunity to remind everyone that AVI is the law. The rate in the law is about 1.38 percent, and we have a $30,000 homestead exemption, and it will take 12 votes to change any of that.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, and thank you, Councilman. And I agree with that, and I think that's why we need to work together as a unit here. And I don't think 12 votes will be a problem for fairness. And that to me is a placeholder for what we're going to introduce here during this session to make sure that this is done right. This homestead could absolutely change. The other introduction by members can be added to this. And also I think that as a whole, Council has been able to work very well together. Not that we agree on every situation, but I think we could really put our heads together to make this work. So I'm willing to work with you and all the members to make that happen.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Goode.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I want to concur with Councilman Green.

  • That is clear evidence that we will be working together.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am very encouraged that we will work together and remind the public how well we worked together last year, that when we were faced with great uncertainties, great difficulties, that under your leadership, Mr. President, we came together as a body, came up with an alternative that worked and were able to postpone, thanks to Councilman Squilla's introduction of the bill, the implementation when we didn't know what was going to happen. And so I'd like to remind the public that at a portion of the public that is very discouraged at this point in time, that overall AVI is what this city needed. It had to be done. It was required. We did do it. We didn't kick the can down the road.

    There's more work to be done, but certainly this body stepped up last year, didn't avoid the difficult decisions, came forward with what I think most people will say was a very good effort in making sure that there was fairness. There has to be more fairness, but certainly I think we're all up for the task.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    That concludes the conversation with Council. We will now -- Councilman Henon, did you want to give a quick reminder?

  • Thank you, Council President. I wasn't going to do this, because it's out there and a lot of people know, but it's for a very worthy cause. And I'd like to remind this body that under the leadership of Council President, we came together last year to raise some money for a worthy organization, one of the largest in the area, to help provide food and services for not just Philadelphia but the immediate area, Philabundance. So with the new energy and -- well, with the energy and leadership of Council, I think we do a lot of things at once, and talent I'm not sure is one of it, but we have a talent show that is this evening that is going to be taking place this evening at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, PAFA better known as, from 6:00 to 9:00, raising dollars to supplement the shortfall of monies that are coming through a lot of the non-profit organizations and the City. So the money raised here tonight will help supplement some well-needed programs or a specific program that's taken a major hit. So through the efforts of all my colleagues, which I want to thank them and thank them and thank them and thank them for putting themselves out there, as we all are.

    So tonight Council will either have talent or they will not have talent, but we will raise money for Philabundance, and I appreciate everybody's support.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you so much, Councilman.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown for a motion to adjourn.

  • I will, Mr. President. I will honor the formal adjournment proceedings, but I did have remarks here as well around AVI, one of the two issues that are facing us this session, and they go clearly to Councilman David Oh's comments.

    Last year, yes, the good news is that last year we were very deliberative. We slow-walked this entire debate, discussion, conversation around AVI, and we ended up in a good place.

    So we're not unprepared for what is before us. It is absolutely sure that we should honor and consider a number of measures that have been introduced by Councilmembers, including those introduced by Councilman Johnson and others. And the operative word is "fairness." The operative word is "fairness." There's greater transparency, so that next year we're not having the same conversation about this new law called AVI.

    With that said, my announcement is to remind Councilmembers that we're having our first task force hearing on human trafficking, which we know affects mostly women and children. This is Step 2 as a followup to a hearing we had some weeks ago. So that will take place immediately following City Council.

    And now to my formal duty. I move that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, February 28th, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, February 28th.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. Council is adjourned.

    Thank you very much.

  • (Stated Meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m.)