Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

  • Thank you. Good morning, everyone.

  • (Good morning.)

  • That's pretty sad.

    Good morning, everyone.

  • (Good morning.)

  • That's what I'm saying.

    I see we have a packed house today. We have some wonderful people down here and we look forward to today.

    I'd ask all guests and visitors to please retire behind the rail, Councilmembers take their seat. We have a quorum and we will start the Council session. Thank you.

    To give our invocation this morning, the Chair recognizes Father Stephen Wetzel, Chaplain for the Fraternal Order of Police. He is here today as the guest of Councilman O'Neill.

    I would ask all guests and visitors to please rise.

  • (Members and guests rise.)

  • Let us pray.

    Lord, inspire this body today with the qualities of good counsel. Give this City Council insight to make wise decisions, integrity to face truth, courage to make difficult choices, and compassion for the needs of others.

    Make those here present a model of justice and honor for the world.

    Lord, today we pray for our Mayor, for the various levels of City officials and, in particular, for this assembled City Council. Grant them wisdom to govern amid conflicting interests in issues of our times, a sense of welfare and true needs of our people, a keen thirst for justice and righteousness, confidence in what is good and fitting, personal peace in their lives and joy in their tasks.

    I pray for the agenda set before them today. Give them an assurance of what would please you and what would benefit those who live and work here in the City of Philadelphia.

    It is in your most blessed name I pray.

    Amen.

  • Thank you so much for those inspiring words.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you so much.

    Our next order of business is the approval of the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, February 20th, 2014.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, February 20th, 2014 be approved.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the Journal of the meeting of February 20th, 2014 be approved.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and the Journal is approved.

    The next order of business is requests for leave 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. Thank you very much, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

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

  • Thank you. Thank you, Councilman.

    At this time, I will dispense with the regular order of business. I would like to welcome everyone here today. I want to thank you very much for coming down to see your government in action. We really appreciate you taking time out of your day, and we hope that your experience today is so nice that you do it twice and you come back again. So thank you very much.

    At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Oh, who will present a resolution recognizing 2014 as the Year of the Veteran in Philadelphia. Would Scott Brown and those accompanying him please join the Councilman at the podium.

    And joining Councilman Oh, we also have Councilman Squilla and Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you very much, Council President. I would also ask all the veteran organization leaders to join us up here while we read and present this resolution. Thank you very much. Please come up.

  • (Applause.)

  • As our veteran organization leaders are assembling, let me first start by thanking our Council President for his leadership as Council President in really focusing attention of our city government on veterans, revitalizing our city's Veterans Advisory Commission. And I'm very proud to say that we will be hearing shortly from our new Executive Director.

    Joining me are my co-introducers, Councilman Mark Squilla, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and let me just say that any year could be Year of the Veteran. This is a special year for us. Any year could be Year of the Veteran, but this year is Year of the Veteran and it will be such a year if we make it so, and that is the point of this resolution. So let's make it so.

    This is a City Council resolution passed by all members of City Council recognizing 2014 as the Year of the Veteran in Philadelphia to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments as well as to continue to raise public awareness of issues related to veterans and the ongoing initiatives to serve those who have served.

    Whereas, Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States Army, United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, establishing a link between our city and those who have served our country dating back to pre-Revolutionary War times; and

    Whereas, veterans from past wars and peace time as well as those currently serving from overseas military duty to Philadelphia are part of the foundation of our community having served our country in the armed forces, putting themselves in harm's way, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, to protect us and preserve our liberties; and

    Whereas, there are roughly 88,000 veterans living in Philadelphia with service spanning World War II until the present, men and women of all races, religions, ethnicities, gender identifications and physical abilities; and

    Whereas, a new generation of veterans, including many female veterans, are returning from service and choosing to live, work and further their education in Philadelphia; and

  • Thank you. Before I read my section, let me acknowledge the late and great Lucien Blackwell, who was a Korean War veteran, and Ed Speller from the Veterans Advisory Commission, who could not be here today.

    Whereas, veterans offer our city a talented and experienced pool of leaders, workers and neighbors; and

    Whereas, many vets face challenges in living to their fullest potential because of the injuries, both mental and physical, suffered during their service; and

    Whereas, in 2012, Philadelphia became the first city in America to offer a tax credit to employers hiring returning vets which will be assessed and modified as needed in 2014; and

    Whereas, in 2012, a coalition was formed to include the City of Philadelphia, the Department of Veteran Affairs and other partner non-profit organizations, such as the Veterans Multi-Service Center, to end veteran homelessness in Philadelphia by the end of 2014; and

  • And I want to say too before I read my section is that it's an honor and a privilege for me to be here and to be part of this opportunity to honor the people who have fought for our freedom and given us what we have and have here today.

    Whereas, City Council passed a Resolution authorizing the Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy to hold hearings on the state of veterans in Philadelphia which will be held in 2014; and

    Whereas, the Philadelphia Free Library, One Book, One Philadelphia Program has chosen The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a tale of a veteran's experience while at war, as it is selected for discussion and events to be held throughout the City in 52 existing libraries; and

    Whereas, Philadelphia will host the Veterans Wheelchair Games in August 2014, with over 600 competitors from all over the nation traveling to Philadelphia in order to participate; now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, by the City Council of the City of Philadelphia, that it hereby recognizes 2014 as the Year of the Veteran in Philadelphia to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments as well as continue to raise public awareness of issues related to veterans and ongoing initiatives to serve those who have served us.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • At this time, I'd like to present the resolution to Scott Brown, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Veterans Advisory Commission.

  • (Applause.)

  • Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilman Oh, Councilman Squilla, Councilwoman Blackwell, Councilmembers, colleagues, the Veterans Commission, and fellow veterans, good morning.

  • (Good morning.)

  • It is with great honor that I accept the job as Director of Veterans Advisory Commission and County Director of Veterans Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. I am truly humbled by this choice and thank all who have helped me get here.

    Though contrary to my first piece of news media released, I am a veteran who served in the United States Navy. I served aboard the USS Briscoe (DD-977) destroyer in the late 1990s, early 2000, and I myself am a hundred percent service-connected veteran who utilizes the VA health system on a daily basis.

    I come from a long line of veterans - my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, which I mere remember every time underneath my beret.

    I have spent many hours volunteering with claims for my fellow veterans, just as someone did for me.

    Working as your Director, I intend on collaborating all veterans' organizations that put veterans first. I want to continue to work side by side with Wanda Pate and Joyce Mckeown, who are here. They together have carried this office for the past two years diligently and productively.

    Sadly, earlier this month we lost a great director and a friend to the veterans of Philadelphia, Edgar Howard, and I would be remiss if I didn't ask for a moment of silence in his great memory.

  • (Brief moment of silence.)

  • I know that Edgar would expect a lot from our office, and we as a staff intend on doing just that. We will continue to have roundtables, fairs, and presentations for our veterans. The office will work to introduce numerous other activities and events throughout the year, holding to faith a filled agenda.

    My promise is that I'm not perfect. I need the help of good veterans. Please make yourself and your organization known to me and to the office.

    The resolution today circumferences numerous veterans organizations in Philadelphia. Present today up here with me is Tim Meserve representing of the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center right here. Also another person who continues to help veterans throughout Philadelphia, Elizabeth Helsel, Associate Director of the VA Medical Center. She's back here somewhere with me. Numerous veterans organizations here, the Philadelphia Vets Center, the Veterans Support Group, Safe Haven, Impact Services, Support Homeless Vets, Vet Corps, Travis Manion Foundation, Thank a Vet, People First, the Perimeter, Sunrise House, Stand Down, USEF, Our Vets Success, Point Man Ministries. A couple directors and commanders here, Andre Mears, the Latin-American Post No. 840. Here we go. Here he is. Bill Coles, 5th District up here with me. John Peterson, the Commander of 405, the Union League. Dave Adams, a radio personality somewhere here. Okay. Al Willis, WP Roach Post No. 21 and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, World War II right here in our presence.

  • (Applause.)

  • My personal commander of Southwest Philly, Post 959, who reminded me that my dues were due, John Tomaski. He's up here. As he always does. Greater Philadelphia Veterans Networks and You Are Not Alone.

    What a group to end with. You veterans are not alone in Philadelphia. These groups here today are just a smidgeon of what is offered in Philadelphia. I truly believe that our office and these organizations mentioned and numerous more will better the City services to our veterans. Thank you to every veterans group here today.

    Can I get all the veterans here to stand? How about a round of applause for our fellow veterans.

  • (Applause.)

  • Fellow veterans, thank you for being so important to us, so good to our country, and for being in this Council Chamber today.

    I accept this resolution on behalf of all veterans organizations and all veterans throughout this great city of ours. I am truly moved that my introduction and this citation are within the same agenda this morning.

    I will assure you that while at the helm of this office, I will keep this resolution, the Year of the Veteran 2014, and you, the veterans of Philadelphia, my first priority. God, family, and the love for your country are what those who have served are taught. I hope to work as hard for veterans as all of the directors before me did.

    Thank you all for this resolution. That will remain always on display in Room 127, our office, as a reminder that veterans are always number one.

    Our first public hearing will be March 5th at 2:00 p.m. where I'll be present, and it will be here in Council Chambers. Again, March 5th at 2 o'clock.

    Thank you very much.

  • (Applause.)

  • Would you say -- I'm sorry, Council President. I know this is going a little long. Can I break protocol and request two more --

  • We can stay here all day, sir.

  • Thank you very much, Council President.

    I would like to ask Tim Meserve from the Veterans Multi-Service Center and Betsy Helsel from the VA, Philadelphia Veterans Administration, to make some brief comments.

    MR. MESERVE. Tim Meserve, and I'm a veteran. I want to thank Councilman Oh, Councilman Squilla, and Councilwoman Blackwell for sponsoring, along with their staffs, for this great tool for veterans. I also want to thank the Council President for your leadership and Councilman Johnson, but in today's world in Washington can't get along, the entire Council, I want to thank you for unanimously supporting this and showing that Philadelphia leads the way in all things.

  • (Applause.)

  • We want to thank a couple people real quickly. I want to thank Kayla Williams from the One Book Philadelphia. There's a great event. If you haven't read Yellow Birds, they have over a hundred plus events that are going through 19 March.

    Fern Villit (ph) from the VA and Debby Derricks from my organization who helped in this process.

    I wanted to say that the Wheelchair Games -- and there's so many things that are going on in Philadelphia, but I just got to speak this morning about the coalition to end veterans homelessness. I want to talk about the amazing things that the organization of the City is doing. There's six charities, three City organizations and HUD and the VA as well as the state Veterans Commission involved. When VA and PHA got together, they took a process for HUD-VASH vouchers that used to be more than 140 days. They've done it multiple times, put a veteran from start to finish in a brand new apartment in three to five days. They are doing amazing things.

  • (Applause.)

  • Real quick. Our chronic homeless numbers for veterans went up 400 percent since the beginning of the boot camp in this process and we have housed double the number of veterans every month, from 30 to 60 homeless veterans every month. We will end homeless veterans and it will be because of everyone in this room.

    I just want to say to all the VSOs out there that Council has given us this great tool. Every one of us needs to use this, because in our organizations, it is the Year of the Veteran every year, but now it's the Year of Veteran in Philadelphia. We do have a kick-off event on 10 March, and there'll be lots of events from all these different organizations celebrating the Year of the Veteran.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Good morning. I just have two minutes of brief comments. I just want to tell you how thrilled and delighted I am to be here to represent Philadelphia VA at this presentation, and we at the VA feel so fortunate to be located in a city that has chosen to elevate the visibility of veterans in such an important way. So thank you for all of that.

    We feel we already do have a strong relationship with the City, but we think this proclamation will really go a long way to cement that partnership and also to add additional visibility and support to the Wheelchair Games that you've already heard about, which are coming to the City in August 12th to the 18th. Not only is that bringing 650 veterans and thousands of visitors and volunteers, but lots of economic positive impact to our city. So thank you.

    So on behalf of the VA, I just want to extend my deepest gratitude to all of you and invite you to join us in celebrating veterans and veteran causes, not just this year but each and every day.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you very much. We're going to take a photograph right now. Because we have so many people up here, I believe the Councilmembers will come up front, but I see veteran leaders still in the audience and spouses of veterans and others. Would you just come up here and take this picture with us. We have room. You know who you are. Please don't be shy. Come on up. You're veteran leaders. Come on up here and take this picture with us.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your service, to all our veterans.

    At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Curtis Jones, who will present a resolution honoring and celebrating Philadelphia's living legends. Would honorees and those accompanying the Councilman please join him at the podium.

  • (Applause.)

  • Can we hold off on the cameras until we do the presentation. Thank you. Thank you.

    Councilman Jones.

    Folks, could we have a little quiet, please. Thank you.

  • On the occasion of Black History Month, we reflect on those who came before us who wrote pages and chapters in the history of America and in particular African American culture.

    In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week, and in 1975, it was recognized by President Gerald Ford. It became a month in 1986 when Congress passed it into law. But here in Philadelphia, we've lost a lot of those living legends last year. When we think about the Honorable Gussie Clark, when we think about Lana Felton-Ghee who passed away, names like Congressman Bill Gray, E. Steven Collins, and Dr. Lomax, to name a few.

    So what we've tried to do each year since 2008 is recognize the living legends in our community who are continuing to write those pages, to create those chapters in Philadelphia African American culture and history and to, in a small way, the body of Council say thank you.

    So with that, names like former Mayor John Street, former President of City Council; names like Ethel Barnett; names like Commissioner Sylvester Johnson; labor leaders like Sam Staten, Jr., a legacy, a second generation in labor; names like Jerry Wyatt Mondesire, to name a few; Joyce Batchelor, an advocate for children for over 25 years. And with that, we want to let them know that we recognize their contributions, that we care deeply about what they do and what they have done for all of us.

    And without further adieu, as part of commemoration of Black History Month, today we honor and celebrate Philadelphia's living legends: John Street, Ethel Barnett, Sylvester Johnson, Joyce Batchelor, Sam Staten, Jr., Doris Smith, Jerry Mondesire, Trudy Haynes, and Della Clark. The panel before you demonstrates exemplary leadership in the areas of government, public safety, social justice, civil rights, labor relations, journalism, community activism, and business leadership; and

  • Whereas, John F. Street, Esquire, Philadelphia's second African American mayor, led the City from 2000 to 2008 after nearly two decades of public service on Philadelphia City Council. Mayor Street was elected as Council President for seven years during his tenure on City Council. As mayor, Street worked to revitalize Philadelphia, improve graduation rates, and increase the quality of life for the City of Philadelphia for all citizens. Still a public servant today, former Mayor Street currently teaches political science at Temple University and advocates for women and youth in politics; and

  • Whereas, this elegant Ethel S. Barnett is a longstanding public servant who served as a Philadelphia police officer from 1961 to 1971 and became the first African American to serve on the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission in 1977. Barnett served on a multitude of government boards, including the Philadelphia Energy Education Council, the Mayor's Commission for Women in Philadelphia, and the Governor's Study Committee on Employment of the Handicapped to forge important public policy changes in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. She was also the first Vice President of the NAACP Philadelphia Chapter and has been a staunch civil rights advocate; and

    Whereas, J. Wyatt Mondesire is a longtime Philadelphia political and civil rights activist, expert in the power of the press to organize citizens and to influence public policy. Mondesire began his career in journalism, formerly writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer and then went on to serve as the Chief of Staff to the Honorable Congressman William H. Gray, III, where he assisted in writing the South African Sanctions legislation. In 1991, Mr. Mondesire founded the Philadelphia Sun, a weekly newspaper for our African American community. Mondesire also served as President of the Philadelphia Chapter -- also serves as President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the NAACP and increased its membership by more than 5,000 members. Mondesire continues to support our city through community and numerous all-time civil rights activism; and

  • Whereas, Sylvester M. Johnson, retired Philadelphia Police Commissioner, received the highest award in Philadelphia Police Department, the Medal of Valor, after stopping an armed robbery while off-duty. Appointed to Police Commissioner in 2002, he helped reduce the record crime rates to a 17-year low in Philadelphia under his wonderful leadership. Commissioner Johnson's service to the community has been recognized by Mayors Rendell, Street, and Nutter; and

  • Whereas, Joyce Batchelor, MSW has committed her life to struggling children and families as a Child Advocate Social Worker for the Defender Association of Philadelphia Child Advocacy Unit for more than 25 years. Batchelor's impact on needy children and families comes through the personal assistance she renders to teens completing employment or college entrance applications, purchasing clothing and toiletries for children from her own coffers, or remembering abused and neglected children with gifts on birthdays and holidays. Batchelor touches and improves lives of underprivileged children and families in Philadelphia through a deep commitment to social justice and pours her heart and soul into each case to ensure that every child's needs are met. Batchelor is committed to making a difference for those in need who need it most; and

    Whereas, Samuel Staten, Sr., represented by Samuel Staten, Jr., served as Business Manager of Laborers' Local 332 encouraging activism in the labor community until his retirement in 2008 after 30 years of dedicated service. Staten has served on numerous boards, including the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. He's also the trustee of the Samuel Staten, Sr., Charitable Trust which aims to assist those living in poverty in the Philadelphia area; and

  • Whereas, Doris A. Smith, formerly served as Commissioner of the Fairmount Park; founded 100 Black Women in Philadelphia and served as executive for Pennsylvania's Department of Health and other health and wellness organizations. Ms. Smith is a longtime public service and community activist deeply committed to park preservation and improving outcomes for Philadelphians. She currently chairs the Philadelphia Civil Service Commission and helps high school dropouts to obtain GEDs, vocational training, and to secure gainful employment through her work with the Exodus Project; and

    Whereas, Trudy Haynes pioneered the pathway for African Americans on television as the nation's first African American TV weather caster and Philadelphia's first African American television reporter. Haynes served 33 years on air at KYW-TV, Channel 3 hosting programs such as The Trudy Haynes Show, Sunday Magazine, Sunday Side Up and a news segment called "Trudy's Grapevine." Throughout her trailblazing career, Haynes interviewed news and entertainment celebrities from President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Sylvester Stallone, Denzel Washington and Tupac Shakur. In 1999, Trudy Haynes' groundbreaking career in journalism was honored by the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's Hall of Fame; and

  • Whereas, Della Clark has helped minorities and entrepreneurs establish and maintain businesses in Philadelphia for more than two decades in her role as President of The Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia. Della Clark brings international entrepreneurial activities and strategies that she observed and explored in Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic and Ireland through the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship's Philadelphia International Leadership Initiative to local minority businesses. She's been recognized as a minority business leader in the Philadelphia community by the Philadelphia Business Journal. In addition to creating and supporting small business ownership, she has supported the community in her roles with the University City District, Saint Christopher's Foundation for Children, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, all of West Philadelphia and certainly the new zone in Mantua that we now have, the promise zone. Thank you.

  • Councilwoman was proud to add that part.

  • Be it resolved by the Council of the City of Philadelphia, that it hereby honors, celebrates the Philadelphia living legends: John F. Street, Ethel S. Barnett, Sylvester M. Johnson, Joyce Batchelor, Sam Staten, Jr., Doris Smith -- and Senior -- Doris Smith, Jerry Wyatt Mondesire, Trudy Haynes, Della Clark in the areas of government, public safety, social justice, civil rights, labor relations, journalism, community activism and business leadership in the City of Philadelphia as part of the commemoration of Philadelphia's Black History Month.

    And let it be further resolved that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to the Philadelphia living legends as evidence of our sincere admiration of this entire legislative body.

    Thank you all very much.

  • (Standing ovation.)

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

    I'm sorry. I'm moving too fast. The standing ovation threw me off.

    The Chair recognizes Mr. Staten for remarks.

  • (All the time.)

  • (Good morning.)

  • I'm truly grateful for this honor. My thank you to Council Curtis Jones and the entire City Council. I'm humbled by this award. I accept this award with honor, not simply in my name but I share with, first of all, Harry Murray, a little black man who organized Local 332 and gave African Americans a base from which to fight for equality in the workplace.

    I share with my dad, Sam Staten, Sr., a man who did so much for all labor organizations and he changed the face of labor in politics of Philadelphia.

    I also share this honor with the members of Local 332 who do the great jobs on our construction sites, but also give back by raising funds for charities and scholarships. They also hit the streets each spring and November to help put in office people who support decent jobs and decent pay.

    Again, my sincere thank you to City Council.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease. Thank you.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you very much.

    The next order of business is communications. The Chair requests that the Sergeant-of-Arms delivers the messages from the Mayor to the Chief Clerk. And I am being told we have no messages today. Thank you very much.

    Mr. Decker, do you have any other communications today?

  • We have none, Mr. President.

  • Thank you very much. We'll move right into the introduction of bills and resolutions, and the Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • (No response.)

  • The Chair now 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. On your behalf I offer one bill.

  • An ordinance amending Title 9 of The Philadelphia Code, by amending Section 9-212 relating to newsstands by prohibiting newsstands in the area bounded by Spring Garden Street, Broad Street, Callowhill Street, and 16th Street.

  • That bill will be referred to committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Henon.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

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

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez.

  • I feel like we're going a mile a minute here.

    Thank you, Council President. I have two bills.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 21-1700 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Publication of Notices by City," be revising provisions concerning how notices of regulations proposed by departments, boards and commissions shall be published and advertised.

  • That bill will be referred to committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Section 19-1301 of The Philadelphia Code, relating to real estate taxes imposed by the City, and Section 19-1801 of The Philadelphia Code, relating to real estate taxes imposed by the School District of Philadelphia, by shifting an additional portion of the real estate tax from the City to the School District of Philadelphia, without changing the overall combined rate of the City and School District real estate tax.

  • That bill will also be referred to 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 Reynolds Brown.

  • Good morning, Mr. President. I offer one resolution this morning.

  • A privileged resolution recognizing and congratulating ASTECH Development Services (Overbrook Environmental Education Center), the Clean Air Council and the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations for their dedication to environmentalism.

  • And that resolution will be on today's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have one bill and two privileged resolutions, one on your behalf.

  • An ordinance authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property, to convey to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development, a parcel of land commonly known as 147 Gay Street.

  • That bill will be referred to committee.

  • And a privileged resolution proclaiming March 2014 as "Social Work Month" in the City of Philadelphia and further embracing the 2014 National Association of Social Worker theme that "All People Matter."

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

  • And a privileged resolution recognizing, honoring and celebrating Allen Ezail Iverson on the occasion of his retirement from professional basketball and the permanent retirement of his number "3" jersey by the Philadelphia 76ers.

  • That resolution will be placed on today's Final Passage Calendar. And, Councilman, I've been asked once you circulated that resolution if Mr. Iverson is coming into the Council Chambers. Will we be so privileged?

  • Well, considering it's your resolution, Mr. President, we'll try to make that happen.

  • Councilman, they told me that I can't ask myself a question, so...

  • Okay. So we will attempt to, Mr. President, get him to show up and celebrate with us.

  • Is there a practice? We can't be practice. We ain't talking about practice.

  • Councilman, we are veterans. We know how to maneuver. Thank you. Thank you, Councilman.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. No bills or resolutions today.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have two privileged resolutions, one co-sponsored by Councilwoman Blackwell, Tasco, and Reynolds Brown and the other by Councilman Jones and Reynolds Brown.

  • A privileged resolution honoring and recognizing the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Pennsylvania Chapter, on the occasion of its 28th Annual Madam CJ Walker Luncheon and Economic Development Seminar.

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

  • And a privileged resolution authorizing City Council to hold public hearings regarding Philadelphia Housing Authority practices in domestic violence cases.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    And the Chair now recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one non-privileged resolution and I wish to be recognized after the title is read for a motion on the resolution.

  • A non-privileged resolution officially responding on behalf of the City of Philadelphia to a letter dated February 7th, 2014 from the Democratic National Committee Chair, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Mayor Michael A. Nutter asking for confirmation of interest in hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention prior to a March 1st deadline. Since the Administration does not plan to convey interest in recruiting this massive economic boost to Philadelphia, City Council is forced to do it for them.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move the rules of Council be suspended to permit consideration of this resolution on today's Final Passage Calendar.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

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

    That concludes the introductions of bills and resolutions and we will now move to our committee reports. And at this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee for a report from the Committee on Rules.

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

  • Thank you.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read that report.

  • To the President and members of the Council of the City of Philadelphia, the Committee on Rules, to which was referred Bill No. 140005, 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 18th Street, 19th Street, Arch Street and Cuthbert street"; and

    Bill No. 140009, entitled "An ordinance to amend Section 14-701 of the Zoning Code, entitled 'Dimensional Standards,' and to amend Section 14-702(4) of the Zoning Code, entitled 'Maximum Floor Area and Height Bonus Amounts,' and to amend Section 14-806 of the Zoning Code, entitled 'Off-Street Loading,' and to amend Section 14-502 of the Zoning Code, entitled 'CTR, Center City Overlay,'" respectfully reports it has considered the same and returns the attached bills 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 Nos. 140005 and 140009.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you. It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bills No. 140005 and 140009.

    All those in favor say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and those bills will be on our First Reading Calendar for today.

    The Chair again recognizes Councilman Greenlee for a report from the Committee of Law and Government.

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

  • Thank you, sir.

    Mr. Decker, please read that report.

  • The Committee on Law and Government, to which was referred Bill No. 140054, entitled "An ordinance amending Title 20 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled 'Officers and Employees,' including Chapter 20-600, entitled 'Standards of Conduct and Ethics,' by prohibiting certain gifts, adding and modifying certain definitions, establishing penalties and making technical amendments, all under certain terms and conditions," respectfully reports it has considered and amended 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. 140054.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you. It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended this day so as to permit first reading of Bill No. 140054.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and that bill will be placed on our First Reading Calendar today.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Squilla for a report from the Committee on Streets and Services.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The Committee on Streets and Services reports five bills with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you, sir.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read that report.

  • The Committee on Streets and Services, to which was referred Bill No. 140003, entitled "An ordinance authorizing the revision of lines and grades on a portion of City Plan No. 307 by striking from the City play and vacating Croskey Street from its terminus north of Cherry Street to a point approximately five feet southwardly therefrom"; and

    Bill No. 140004, entitled "An ordinance authorizing Liberty Property 18th and Arch LP, owner of the property at 1800 Arch Street to be improved with an office tower and hotel, to install security bollards on and under Arch Street, North 18th Street, North 19th Street and Cuthbert Street, and bike racks and benches on and under Arch Street, adjacent to 1800 Arch Street"; and

    Bill No. 140007, entitled "An ordinance authorizing the revision of lines and grades on a portion of City Plan No. 307 by relocating the curblines of Cuthbert Street from Eighteenth Street to Nineteenth Street, thereby increasing the cartway width of said Cuthbert Street, and by regrading Eighteenth Street, from John F. Kennedy Boulevard to Arch Street, and regrading Cuthbert Street from Eighteenth Street to Nineteenth Street, thereby raising said Eighteenth Street and Cuthbert Street"; and

    Bill No. 140008, entitled "An ordinance authorizing Liberty Property 18th and Arch, LP to construct, use and maintain, an underground pedestrian tunnel crossing the Unit block of 18th Street extending the existing underground transit concourse westward beneath 18th Street and an underground utility vault"; and

    Bill No. 140010, entitled "An ordinance amending Section 9-213 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled 'Farmers' Markets,' to remove the requirement that operators of farmers' markets obtain a license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections, to provide for registration by market operators with the Department of Public Health, and to adjust various requirements to the operation of farmers' markets, all under certain terms and conditions," respectfully reports it has considered and amended the same and returns the attached bills to Council with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair again recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the rules of Council be suspended so to permit first reading this day of Bills No. 140003, 140004, 140007, 140008, and 140010.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you. It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended this day so as to permit first reading of Bills No. 140003, 140004, 140007, 140008, and 140010.

    All those in favor say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and those bills will be on our First Reading Calendar today.

    That concludes our committee reports, and at this time, we will consider the Calendar.

    I note that all the bills just reported from committee with suspension of the rules have been deemed to have had a first reading. These bills will be placed on our Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar at our next session of Council.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read any other bills on the First Reading Calendar.

  • Bill No. 130901, entitled "An ordinance authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to execute and enter into a Declaration of Rights, Easements, Covenants and Restrictions to govern the relationship among (1) that certain parcel of land, together with the improvements thereon, commonly known as JFK Plaza, located at 15th and Arch Streets, and (2) that certain parcel of land, together with the improvements located thereon, commonly known as Love Park Parking Garage, located generally beneath JFK Plaza at 15th and Arch Streets, and (3) certain parcels of land around and beneath Love Park Parking Garage"; and

    Bill No. 130092, entitled "An ordinance authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to execute and deliver a deed conveying fee simple title to a certain parcel of land, together with the improvements located thereon, commonly known as Love Park Parking Garage, located generally beneath JFK Plaza at 15th and Arch Streets; together with certain rights and obligations of the owner of the Love Park Parking Garage unit under a certain Declaration of Rights, Easements, Covenants and Restrictions, all under certain terms and conditions."

  • The Chair agrees. These bills will be placed on the Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar for our next session of Council.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Jones for the purpose of calling up bills and resolutions on our Final Passage.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The following resolutions and bills are being called up for Second Reading and Final Passage Calendars today: Nos. 140104, 140105, 140106, 140109, 140114, 130688-AA, 130908, 130946, 140057, and 140058. All other resolutions and bills are being held.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Before considering these bills and resolutions on the Final Passage Calendar, we will have our public comment session. It will go as follows:

    If you are interested in testifying on a bill or resolution that's on the Final Passage Calendar, you must sign up at the table to my left. There is soon to be a podium in the middle of the Council Chambers. It has a device on the podium. When the light on that podium turns green, it will be your time to speak. When it turns yellow, you have 30 seconds to conclude your remarks, and when it turns red, we ask that you please conclude your remarks and adhere to those guidelines that we have established. You will be given three minutes to speak.

    At this time, Mr. Decker, can you please read the name of the first individual who is interested in testifying today.

  • Clarc King, commenting on 140106.

  • (Witness approached witness table.)

  • Good morning, Council President.

  • Good morning, Councilmembers. I am here to thank Councilmember Johnson for Resolution 140106, the resolution urging the United States Congress to pass Senate Bill 1410, entitled the Smarter Sentencing Act, which provides for fairer drug sentencing guidelines.

    We should be investigating sentencing for drug offenses, as we have an opium war in the combination of actions in the illegal importation of drugs, in drug money laundering in our financial facilities, and the privatization of prisons where corporate managers and shareholders demand that their prisons are kept full at all times to enhance their investments and monetary value. We cannot tolerate the monetary financial system intrusion in the justice system in our economy and in the operation of this city. The financial system impacts our constitutional rights and liberties.

    I ask that the City Council create the resolution urging the United States Congress to reinstate the Glass-Steagall standard in U.S. banking, mindful that every day the Congress fails to reinstate the Glass-Steagall standard in U.S. banking is the national security crisis.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you very much for your testimony.

  • There are no other speakers on the public comment list, Mr. President.

  • Thank you very much, Mr. Decker.

    We will now consider the bills and resolutions on the Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of Resolution 140104.

  • 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 Sixteenth and Twenty-Ninth Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and Resolution 140104 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, 140105.

  • A resolution approving the redevelopment contract of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for the redevelopment and urban renewal of a portion of the Point Breeze Urban Renewal Area, identified by house numbers and street addresses as 1734 Federal Street, 1606, 1624, and 1637 Latona Street, 1713, 1715, 1717, 1721, and 1726 Manton Street, and 1231 South Seventeenth Street.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Mr. President, 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, and Resolution 140105 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, 140106.

  • A resolution urging the United States Congress to pass Senate Bill 1410, entitled the Smarter Sentencing Act, which provides for fairer drug sentencing guidelines.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. 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, and Resolution 140106 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, 140109.

  • 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 Seventh, Nineteenth, Thirty-First and Thirty-Seventh Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and Resolution 140109 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, 140114.

  • 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 Thirty-First Ward of the City of Philadelphia.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. 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, and Resolution 140114 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, I believe next up is 130688-AA.

  • An ordinance amending Title 9 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Regulation of Businesses, Trades and Professions," by adding new rules and obligations pertaining to construction licenses and renewals of those licenses; creating demolition licenses and increasing fines for expediters that falsify information.

  • This bill has 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 16; the nays are zero. A majority of members present voting in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of 130908.

  • An ordinance to amend the Philadelphia Zoning Maps by changing the zoning designations of certain areas of land located within an area bounded by Spruce Street, Juniper Street, Cypress Street, Watts Street, Pine Street and Broad Street, by amending Chapter 14-500 of the Zoning Code entitled "Overlay Zoning", by amending Chapter 14-700 of the Zoning Code entitled "Development Standards", and by amending Chapter 14-800 of the Zoning Code entitled "Parking and Loading."

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

    Mr. Decker, 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 16; the nays are zero. A majority of members present voting in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, 130946.

  • An ordinance authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to purchase from the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development a certain tract of land together with the improvements thereon situate in the area bounded by 46th Street, Market Street, Haverford Avenue, and 48th Street, known as 4601 Market Street.

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

    Mr. Decker, 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 16; the nays are zero. A majority of members present voting in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, 140057.

  • An ordinance authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to enter into a lease agreement with the Philadelphia Municipal Authority to lease from the City of Philadelphia the premises commonly known as the Chalfont Recreation Center.

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

    Mr. Decker, 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 16; the nays are zero. A majority of members present voting in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, 140058.

  • An ordinance authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property to enter into a lease agreement with the Philadelphia Municipal Authority to lease from the City of Philadelphia the premises commonly known as the Junod Recreation Center.

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

    Mr. Decker, 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 16; the nays are zero. A majority of members present voting in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, do you have any additional resolutions.

  • A resolution recognizing and congratulating ASTECH Development Services (Overbrook Environmental Education Center), the Clean Air Council and the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations for their dedication to environmentalism, introduced by Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and that resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution proclaiming March 2014 as "Social Work Month" in the City of Philadelphia and further embracing the 2014 National Association of Social Worker theme that "All People Matter," introduced by Councilman Jones.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and that resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution recognizing, honoring and celebrating Allen Ezail Iverson on the occasion of his retirement from professional basketball and the permanent retirement of his number "3" jersey by the Philadelphia 76ers, introduced by Councilman Jones on behalf of Council President Clarke.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • All those in favor say aye -- I move for the adoption.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it, and that resolution is adopted. And I'm understanding that Mr. Iverson will be at an event on Friday to receive his resolution at Mitchell Ness, I believe it is.

  • So if anyone is interested to see him get his resolution and participate, please feel free. Thank you very much.

  • And a resolution honoring and recognizing the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Pennsylvania Chapter, on the occasion of its 28th Annual Madam CJ Walker Luncheon and Economic Development Seminar, introduced by Councilwoman Bass.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. 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, and that resolution is also adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing City Council to hold public hearings regarding Philadelphia Housing Authority practices in domestic violence cases, introduced by Councilwoman Bass.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. 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, and that resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution officially responding on behalf of the City of Philadelphia to a letter dated February 7th, 2014 from Democratic National Committee Chair, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Mayor Michael A. Nutter asking for confirmation of interest in hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention prior to a March 1st deadline. Since the Administration does not plan to convey interest in recruiting this massive economic boost to Philadelphia, City Council is forced to do it for them, introduced by Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you. Before I call on Councilman Kenney, I'd like to recognize Councilman Henon.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. And appropriately announced here at this time, I just received some good news. Because of the sponsor of this resolution and the insistence and persistence of prominent democratic leaders in the City of Philadelphia such as Congressman Brady and John J. Dougherty, the ongoing negotiations with this city and yourself, Council President, the Mayor and the Administration is proud to -- and I'm not speaking on their behalf, but Councilwoman Tasco, you will have a letter in support of the National Democratic Convention for the City of Philadelphia to take down to DC today. So thank you all.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    And the Chair now recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Before I move the adoption of the resolution, I have a copy of the letter in my hand and it's still warm. It's great.

    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, and the resolution and the letter will be delivered by Councilwoman Tasco. It is now adopted. Thank you very much.

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

  • Thank you, Mr. Decker.

    At this time, are there any speeches on the part of the minority?

  • (No response.)

  • Are there any speeches on the part of the majority?

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I want to remind us in this Chamber that 87,000 Pennsylvanians lost their unemployment benefits the turn of the year and that 11,910 of them are Philadelphians. And the point of this is the Pew Charitable Trusts released their report this week on the shrinking middle class. Some interesting statistics as we enter our budget negotiations is that the middle class has declined from 59 percent of our population in 1970 to 42 percent in 2010 and that the, quote, "lower class" Philadelphians spiked, went up, from 30 percent of the population to 47 percent of the population. We're not talking about the poor or, as they call it, super poor. We're talking about lower-middle class, middle class shrinkage.

    Pew defines the middle class in their audit of households as $41,258 annually to 123,000. Now, in my neighborhood that's a little large, but we'll take them at their statistical word.

    But it has become apparent also that the cost of living in that shrinking has not gone down. Everything from utilities, food, housing, shelter, all of those things have gone up.

    I want to recognize a couple of people in this Chamber. First of all, you, Mr. President, for your work in preserving that middle class, in making sure that municipal workers received consideration for a fair contract as it relates to District Council 47, and I pray that we are successful in moving that also into 33.

    I want to recognize Councilman Henon for his work in trying to preserve the middle class manufacturing jobs that are here in the City of Philadelphia and recognize him for trying to preserve that middle class.

    I want to recognize Councilman Oh for his work in recognizing Philadelphia as an international economic opportunity to the rest of the world, attracting businesses, reinforcing that middle class.

    I want to make sure that that is known, that we are fighting every day in our different areas of expertise to make sure that happens and that we encourage and continue to encourage our Philadelphia delegation both in Harrisburg and in DC, Congressman Brady, Congressman Fattah, for their work in moving the reinstating of that unemployment compensation, because I don't know if after 11 weeks what any of us would do without a means of income in the City of Philadelphia. Many of us live paycheck to paycheck, and as Councilwoman Tasco points out, some of them rely on even payday loans, and we want to stop that.

    We have to preserve this middle class. We have to fight for it in everything we do in the upcoming months in this budget process.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I echo the words of Councilman Jones. The data speaks for itself, and I know that all of us are extremely concerned about what that means overall to our tax base.

    Today I introduced a bill to add to the conversation as we move forward in this budget cycle to talk about education. There is not a conversation that I share with one of my co-sponsors, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, where we don't express our concern for what we are going to do about the School District and funding, not only this year but as we move forward. We have that conversation not just as Councilpeople but as mothers concerned about the future of our children and our grandchildren and the children of our constituents.

    Many folks in this Chamber may not know that Councilman Jones has provided direct leadership around school funding and education options particularly in his district, and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate him, as I have constituents in my district who travel to SLA Beeber in his district because that is a high-performing school with high-performing slots, which is what our parents are asking for.

    But I do this introduction because I believe there's great promise. There's great promise because after all the chaos around school funding, we have certain things that have been missing in the past and in the debate. We have leadership. Dr. Hite has provided strong leadership and a renewed faith in all of us that we can lead to a better situation at the District, the SRC's leadership and, of course, our Council colleague Councilman Green taking on this enormous task. We have a plan, and Dr. Hite's plan 2.0 which sets a pathway to what could be good educational opportunities for all children. And we have a financial plan, which outlays the $320 million that Dr. Hite says can help us lead to a good path, not the best path but one that he feels strongly that he could steward.

    Yesterday, in part thanks to the leadership of you, Council President, and Council and the Administration, we saw some positive great promise in the sale of the buildings, four buildings, that are going to sell for about $37 million and net the District 30 million. While it falls short of our goal for June 30th of 77 million, it is also great promise.

    The last two years this Council has worked very hard to multi-task and tackle many issues - zoning reform, AVI, providing relief for homeowners, and every single time through your leadership, Council President, we have been up to the task.

    Let me first start by saying that nothing, nothing can replace the funding formula that is so desperately needed and that must be done at the state level. Nothing that we do can replace that.

    Nothing can replace the money that -- the federal money that we've lost through the stimulus package. And while Governor Corbett's proposal of $27 million is only a conversation starter, we need to engage in a real strong public debate around long-term, consistent, predictable funding for the School District.

    I am pleased of this Council, my Council colleagues and this Council, for the constant leadership that we have provided in the last three years as it relates to this issue. I do not doubt for a minute that everyone in this Council is extremely committed to the children and to the future of Philadelphia and that we understand that school funding is a top priority.

    This introduction is about keeping all of these options on the table, as we've done in every single debate around school education. This Council will continue to provide leadership. Council President, we look to you and your leadership as you continue to collaborate with our state colleagues and state government to ensure that we do what is necessary. Our children deserve nothing less. As the poverty numbers in the Pew study shows, ensuring that Philadelphia has a growing middle class is vitally important and lifting folks out of poverty should be a top priority.

    Thank you, Council President.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I rise this morning to also talk about education. The first is just an announcement and a reminder that on March 4th at 9:00 a.m., Dr. Adrienne Jacoby, Executive Director of Philadelphia Reads, will brief Council on Philadelphia Reads and discuss related issues.

    The second thing I'd like to talk about deals with the closing of schools. My colleague just mentioned four schools. Well, as you know, I have University City High School, and that includes Charles Drew School and Walnut Center, in addition to Wilson School next to the University of Sciences on the same block and Shaw School at 54th and Warrington, which is the Hardy Williams School. And there is print in the paper, but I'd like to mention we all love WURD, my favorite radio show, but certainly I had some issues today with a moderator. I don't really know him, but a new moderator who called me a liar today and who said that I made a deal and that the schools were being sold for a pittance. This is what happens when people don't do their homework. That the schools were being sold for a pittance because I made a deal to get a community room in the Youth Study Center or the Juvenile Justice Center at 48th and Haverford in my district. I tried to tell him you don't mix those kind of fundings. And a community center in the building and selling schools, totally different entities. We don't control the School District land or the buildings. You don't mix that funding. And if I have that kind of power and authority, the schools wouldn't have closed in the first place.

    Having said that, they said I knew about it. And we all know we heard about it yesterday. Like people tell us things like they're doing us a favor the day before. And we heard about these sales certainly the day before I did as well. And so I suggest that if this gentleman would check his records, he would see that when the Juvenile Justice Center was built, it was in the papers, they accused me of holding it up for three years and they had my picture on the front of the Daily News calling me Jannie Blocker. Now it was funny, but it's not funny when it's you. They call me Jannie Blocker, not Jannie Blackwell. And we went through -- it's working out fine. We love the leadership there. It's working out fine, but my point is and I told them, you know, I know that I represent the community, some of you think, on certain issues to a fault, but Lucien Blackwell taught me a long time ago that you have to honor the people who elect you. And so sometimes maybe it is considered that I do it to a fault, but I try to stay true to what I think I should do. Pray first to God and then try to do what the people who elect me want me to do.

    So I suggest to this gentleman a community center -- my goodness, we got a community room in that center. Sure, I fought for that. A community room versus selling a school, three schools right in that area and all that it entails?

    I would suggest that when someone goes on the radio, any moderator, that they be fair. You do your homework if you want to attack people, and you should at least be honest about what you're saying.

    I have no reason to call a station and lie and make up things about the sale of schools in my area. I wish we weren't here in the first place. We all wish we had more money. I wish I controlled that as well. I mean, the gentleman said that I know everything that's going on in my district. I have power, but I'm not quite that powerful.

    So, again, we ask that -- we challenge them to come back, do the right thing, say the right thing, and I challenge you to be honest, because I know I am.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you so much, Councilwoman.

  • (Applause.)

  • And the Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown for her remarks and an adjournment.

  • Oh, okay, Mr. President. So I will first do an announcement, a friendly reminder to Council colleagues and staffers and guests who want to join us immediately following the adjournment for our Second Annual Celebration of Black History Month, which will include song, music, and dance and followed by delicious food offered up by Arnez, a wonderful caterer here in town, and, lastly, art in its purest form being exhibited by Florcy Morisset, an African American female owner of the only art gallery there in Old City. So all are invited to join us immediately following City Council. I thank the leadership again for just saying yes that we can do this.

    My remarks speak to an opportunity to salute a man who touched my life very, very early in my career, has made a huge impact on a dozen of others, and an even bigger mark on the City of Philadelphia. On Monday, February 24th, Mr. Willie F. Johnson, President of PRWT Services, Inc., was honored in Washington, DC by our United States Senator Bob Casey. I count myself both lucky and fortunate to have been among the legions of guests and friends from Florida, South Carolina, his home state, and Philly made us proud, we were there in huge numbers, who were there to cheer him on, show him our love, and offer our heartfelt admiration.

    I got to know Mr. Johnson, my former boss, when he was the Executive Director of the Youth Services Coordinating Office under the Rizzo Administration, and I learned a lot about work ethic and what that looks like. Never, ever did he have his nameplate on his desk. When you walked into his office, what you saw on his nameplate were two words: Be Thorough.

    At the tribute Donna Allie, President and CEO of Team Clean, offered the following quote. She was one of four panelists who were a part of a symposium that followed the salute to Mr. Johnson on the Senate floor, and here's what she had to say: Quote, "If you want to sleep well at night, you have to genuinely be more interested in people than profit," end quote.

    This quote is a testament to Willie Johnson's inspiring story. He's the Founder and Chairman of PRWT Services, Inc., one of the largest minority-owned businesses in the United States located right here in Philadelphia. He started his career as a social worker, which has strongly influenced his approach to the way he approaches the business world.

    Before beginning his career as an entrepreneur, he served as the Regional Commissioner for the Office of the City of Philadelphia, the Executive Director for the Youth Services Coordinating Office under Rizzo, the Executive Director of the Office of Employment and Training under Rendell. Then Mr. Johnson took the leap and in 1983 established Fidelity Systems, Inc., a cable line construction company. From there he went on to found another company, PRWT, Services, Inc. in 1988. Today, PRWT now employs over 1,500 people nationwide. A central tenet of PRWT is to be a world-class entrepreneurial diversified company while also being an excellent corporate citizen.

    Under his leadership, PRWT was named Industrial Service Company of the Year in the 2009 issue of Black Enterprise and was saluted at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur's Conference for being one of the top 100 black enterprise companies, and has been in that place for at least nine years.

    He was also recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Philadelphia region of Ernst and Young in June 2000. His commitment to community, to the arts and culture organizations -- he's supported Philadanco, African American Museum, Urban League of Philadelphia, and the list goes on and on and on.

    So I'm delighted to be able to salute him on this last day of us convening during African American History Month and salute Mr. Willie F. Johnson for being truly an inspirational human being, a giant of a citizen, an enormous wonderful role model for those of us who have the spine to become entrepreneurs, because in every way he represents and is a reflection and symbol for the next generation of leaders.

    So it's a wonderful pleasure, Mr. President, to salute Mr. Willie F. Johnson while he's still able to smell the roses.

    With that, City Council stands adjourned until Thursday, March 6th, 2014.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

  • It's been moved and properly seconded that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, March 6th, 2014, 10:00 a.m.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it.

    Thank you very much.

  • (Stated Meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m.)