Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

  • Good morning, everyone. I ask that all members please take their seats and all of our guests and visitors please retire behind the rail. Thank you very much.

    To give our invocation this morning, the Chair recognizes Lee Allison Paczulla, Student Minister at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia and Master of Divinity candidate at Harvard Divinity School. She is here today as the guest of Councilman Bill Green.

    Would all guests and visitors and members please rise.

  • (Members and guests rise.)

  • (Good morning.)

  • As President Clarke mentioned, I serve as the Student Minister at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia at 22nd and Chestnut Streets, and that title, Student Minister, means that I have yet to be ordained. I am still on my journey. So because I'm still on this journey, I'm thinking a lot this morning about calling and about the meaning of calling.

    I recently moved back to the City after many years away, but I was born in Philadelphia at Pennsylvania Hospital, and I'm in love with this city. God willing, I want to serve as a minister in the City for the rest of my life. It's called me.

    And you all know that answering the call to serve is bigger than just answering an ad on Craig's List or in the classifieds. When you have a true calling to serve, it's not about career ambitions. It's about letting your life story speak. It's about realizing that everything you've done and every person that you've known has brought you here to this moment. And you live out that calling. You live out your story and theirs through everything that you do.

    So as a faith leader in this city, as a young professional in this city, and as a native-born Philadelphian, I want you to know that I respect your calling, and more than anything else, I ask you to fulfill it by listening. Listen to your own life speak. Listen to that voice inside of you that called you to be here to serve in the first place. Listen to God, if you pray to a God, but remember how God speaks through our world and through all of the people around you.

    So I invite you now to join me in prayer.

    Spirit of life, holy and gracious God, whose other name is love, we are so grateful to you for this moment. We are grateful for the breath in our lungs and the heat in our bellies and the heartbeats pounding in our chests.

    We ask that you guide us as we seek to use the gift of our lives in service, ever called to be closer to you and the love that you have shared with all of us.

    We ask for your blessings on our beautiful city, that you would help those within it, and especially those gathered here in this room today, to see all people as members of this human family, worthy of our full measure of love and care.

    For these prayers and for the prayers of our hearts, let the people say amen.

  • Thank you so much for those inspiring words.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you very much. Thank you so much.

    May we have your attention, please. Thank you.

    The next order of business is the approval of the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, March 21st, 2013.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

    Hold on, Councilman. Folks, we have to conduct the session. Thank you.

    Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, March 21st, 2013 be approved.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, March 21st, 2013 stand approved.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The Journal is approved.

    The next order of business is requests for leaves of absence.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the majority, there is a request for leave of absence by Councilmember Green.

  • Thank you. Leave shall be granted.

    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 so much, Councilman.

    At this time, I would like to dispense with the regular order of business to welcome all our guests and visitors. We appreciate you coming to see your government in action. We hope that your stay here today is a pleasurable one. We hope that you come back again. So, again, thank you so much for your attendance.

    At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco, who will present a resolution recognizing and honoring the 2012 LaSalle College High School Football Team. Would Head Coach Drew Gordon and those accompanying him please join the Councilwoman at the podium.

    Joining the Councilwoman is Councilman Kenney.

    Folks, could I ask you to please be quiet, please. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Good morning. It gives me great pleasure this morning to present this resolution recognizing and honoring the 2012 LaSalle College High School Football Team at the request of my former employee, one of my ward leaders in the 61st Ward and a mother of one of the members of the team, Sharon Losier, because Jim Kenney said I took it from him. So now you know the relationship. He's a LaSalle alum.

  • Oh, no. St. Joe's Prep.

  • St. Joe's. I'm sorry. Let me go on with this before I make too many comments.

    Whereas, during the 2012 season, the LaSalle College High School Football Team, (the "Explorers") continued its tradition of excellence by amassing a 12 to 2 record, winning their fourth straight PIAA State Football Championship quarterfinal game by defeating Parkland High School 28 to 7, and concluding the season with an appearance in the State Championship semifinal; and

    Whereas, the Explorers won their fifth consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League Football Championship and their fourth consecutive Citywide High School Football title; and

  • On behalf of Councilman Greenlee and Councilman O'Neill, I will eat their share of humble pie.

    Whereas, under the dedicated direction of Head Coach Drew Gordon, Brother James Butler (President), Principal Michael O'Toole, and Athletic Director Joseph Parisi, the Explorers, through their signature Blue and Gold colors, set a standard of achievement for themselves and for others to follow; and

    Whereas, the Explorers, through their twenty-four seniors, exhibited teamwork, grit, and determination in leading the team to a memorable season, and were complemented by the enthusiastic group of underclassmen who stepped up to make significant contributions that led to the team's success; and

    Whereas, the pride that the 2012 Explorers exhibited by accepting the challenge of continuing a longstanding success of LaSalle College's football program was evident throughout the season and they have insured an honored place in LaSalle College High School football history through their season of great achievement. Now, therefore be it

  • Now therefore be it resolved, by the Council of the City of Philadelphia, that we hereby congratulate the entire LaSalle College High School Football Team on their impressive accomplishments and for serving as outstanding ambassadors for the City of Philadelphia and being a source of pride for all of its citizens.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to representatives of the LaSalle College High School Football Team as evidence of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.

    This is a true certification and correct copy of the original resolution, adopted by the Council of the City of Philadelphia on the 21st of March 2013. Signed by the President of City Council, Marian Tasco and supported by all members of City Council.

    Congratulations and thank you so much.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Coach Gordon for remarks.

  • We're very happy, and thank you very much for the resolution you offered us. It's great, and we do take it serious to represent the City of Philadelphia when we go into the state playoffs, and we've had some success in related to the guys behind us. And Trent Simmons here is one of our captains and he'll say a couple words.

  • Put me on the spot.

    I just want to thank Ms. Sharon Losier for setting everything up. I want to thank my teammates for everything they do, and I was happy that we could get the fourth straight City Championship this year.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you very much.

    At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson, who will present a resolution honoring Faatimah Gamble. Would Ms. Gamble and those accompanying her please join the Councilman at the podium.

    And joining the Councilman is Councilman Kenney, Councilman Goode, Councilwoman Brown, and Councilwoman Bass and Councilman Jones.

  • (Good morning.)

  • (Good morning.)

  • Today I am truly honored and privileged to have this opportunity to pay special tribute to a leader in the South Philadelphia and the Philadelphia community as a whole.

    My grandmother taught me as a young man that besides every strong man is a stronger woman. And so I am truly honored and privileged to have this opportunity to present a citation honoring Faatimah Gamble for her hard work and dedication in changing the lives of the health of men as well as young ladies and young men throughout the Philadelphia region.

    Honoring and recognizing Faatimah Gamble for her commitment and dedication to helping impoverished communities and families across the nation, and her advocacy for healthy lifestyles.

  • Whereas, Faatimah Gamble's passion for business first began as a student at Bok Vocational School in South Philadelphia. She continued her education at Temple University and went on to become certified as a protocol and etiquette consultant from the International School of Protocol in Washington, DC. Ms. Gamble's professional development and -- professionally developed and implemented the Pearls of Wisdom and Boys to Men character building and social etiquette programs with hundreds of young adults over the last thirty years -- impossible -- and has encouraged self-esteem and refinement among inner-city individuals; and

  • Whereas, Ms. Gamble co-founded Universal Companies, a group of organizations that provides a wide range of comprehensive services to rebuild urban America. Through services such as real estate development, vocational skills training, adult basic education, job preparation and training, and elementary education and after school programs, Universal has worked with community residents to create several neighborhood master plans to continue development activity; and

  • Whereas, to implement these plans, Universal solicited public and private entities to raise nearly a billion dollars of investment funds. Universal oversees the construction and management of all of its projects, and since 1993 has developed over 1,500 units of commercial, residential, entertainment and public education facilities, as well as affordable housing for families in need; and

  • Whereas, over the years, health education was a subject about which Ms. Gamble has grown very passionate, and in 1996, she founded The Wellness of You, Incorporated. This non-profit organization has advocated for healthy lifestyles in underserved communities, and since its inception, over 25,000 individuals have benefited from its programs. Furthermore, The Wellness of You was the first organization in the country that recognized medical professionals committed to making a positive change in community health; and

  • Whereas, Ms. Gamble continues her success and philanthropy as president of The Wellness of You, Incorporated, co-chairperson of Universal Companies, and as a member of the board of directors of the Universal Institute Charter School. In the future, she plans to focus on youth programming and health advocacy, now therefore be it

  • Resolved, that the Council of the City of Philadelphia hereby honors, recognizes and commends Faatimah Gamble for her commitment and dedication to helping impoverished communities and families across the nation, and her advocacy for healthy lifestyles.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to Faatimah Gamble as evidence of her sincere sentiments of this -- of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.

    And on a personal note, Mrs. Gamble, I just want to thank you for all the hard work that you have done in the area of education and in the area of health and, more importantly, encouraging our young ladies to be young ladies and also providing an outlet for our young men to become young men. And it's much needed in this present day and age, because our young people are up against so many negative images of what it is to be a young man as well as young ladies being fine young ladies.

    So I just want to sincerely thank you and say I appreciate the work that you've done, and also you have always inspired me. Y'all are a great couple, so before I got married, I kind of paid attention to how y'all acknowledge each other in public, because it's often that we don't often see like strong black love. Put it out there. So I just want to thank you for what y'all represent to our community.

    So thank you, and we appreciate you.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Ms. Gamble for remarks.

  • And if I can just have my black love partner stand beside me, I'd certainly appreciate it because --

  • (Applause.)

  • Council President Clarke, Councilmember Johnson and all the other Councilmembers, I humbly thank you for this resolution and for this honor.

    The work that I have done over -- and it has been 30 years, Councilman Jones, when I began the quest to take a look at the young women particularly in our community and the lack of social grace and the social ills in which they represented. I knew that it was important that we refine these young ladies and teach these young ladies how to be young ladies so that they are prepared for the future, their lives that is before -- that would be before them. And in addition to that -- and I must preface that I started with my own daughter, because I took a look at her, who is standing here with me, and I said, you know, with she and her friends that there was a need for some improvement, and I set out to work with the young ladies over 30 years ago, and it propelled itself into working with the young men, because if you're working with young ladies and you're teaching young ladies how to be young ladies, so how do you teach -- what do you do with the men that they are going to be interacting with so that they can have the companionship and the relationships that are healthy and wholesome relationships.

    So the young boys were important, and I'm pleased to say that they're all doing extraordinarily well and they have gone on to be model citizens. And it's important that we focus on the young people today because they are the ones who are going to stand on our shoulders, just as we are standing on the shoulders of those before us.

    In addition, with the Men's Wellness, the Men's Breakfast, I began focusing on alternative health and good health practices in our community, because we suffered for many years for debilitating diseases that can easily be eradicated. And I noticed that there were women who were attending the events over the years, but the men weren't there, and how do we get the men to begin to focus on their health. Well, you know, you have a separate event for the men, and it has worked out for the past 12 years and it has been very successful. We started out with 25 men, and our last event in March we had over 450 men.

    But I understand that Councilman Johnson is a recipient of the information that's been provided over those years. And not only Mr. Johnson, but the CEO and the President of Universal Companies, Rahim Islam, has also benefited. But besides those two gentlemen, my husband has benefited from the work that we've done through the wellness. And I cannot do the work that I do without my partner, who supports me with everything that I do, and he's there for me. He's encouraging me, and even this morning he said, Just relax, take it easy, because I was nervous. But he's always with me, and I appreciate him and I love him for what he brings to me.

    So thank you so much for this honor. I am humbly, humbly -- I'm humbled to the point of emotion.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you very much.

    Folks, before we proceed, I would ask that all guests and visitors please turn their cell phones or any other electronic devices on silent or vibrate. We appreciate your cooperation. Thank you.

    The next order of business is communications. The Chair requests that the Sergeant-of-Arms deliver the messages from the Mayor to the Chief Clerk.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the messages.

  • To the President and members of the Council of the City of Philadelphia, pursuant to Sections 4-604 and 2-307 of the Home Rule Charter, I am today transmitting to the Council the recommendation of the City Planning Commission on the following bills: Bill Nos. 130061, 130062, 130063, 130136, 130137, and 130162; and

    I am pleased to advise you that on April 2, 2013, I signed all of the bills that were passed by Council at its session on March 21, 2013, and that on April 2, 2013, I signed all the bills that were passed by Council at its session on March 14, 2013, except Bill No. 130004, which I am returning disapproved; and

    I am transmitting herewith for the introduction and consideration of your honorable body an ordinance amending Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Zoning and Planning," by amending Chapter 14-800, entitled "Parking and Loading," by revising parking design standards; and

    Also an ordinance amending Subcode "F" of Title 4 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "The Philadelphia Fire Code," the base code of which is the 2009 edition of the International Fire Code published by the International Code Council, with certain amendments thereto, by further amending the 2009 International Fire Code and the previous Philadelphia amendments; and

    An ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 within the General Fund, the Department of Human Services; and

    An ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 from the Grants Revenue Fund, the Director of Finance - Provision for Other Grants to the General Fund, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania; and

    An ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 within the General Fund and Grants Revenue Funds from the Director of Finance - Provision for Other Grants to certain or all City offices, departments, boards and commissions; and

    An ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 from the Grants Revenue Fund, the Director of Finance - Provision for Other Grants to the General Fund, the Managing Director; and

    An ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 from General Fund, certain or all City offices, departments, boards and commissions to the General Fund, certain or all City offices, departments, boards and commissions, all under certain terms and conditions.

  • Thank you. Mr. Decker, do you have any other communications?

  • I have none, Mr. President.

  • Thank you so much.

    The next order of business is the introduction of bills and resolutions.

    At this point, the Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Councilwoman Blackwell.

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

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. On your behalf, I have two bills and one resolution.

  • An ordinance amending Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Zoning and Planning," by amending Chapter 14-800, entitled "Parking and Loading," by revising parking design standards.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance authorizing Shinta Shah, owner and operator of the newsstand located on the southwest corner of 17th and Chestnut Streets, to construct, use and maintain conduits in and under the southwest corner of 17th and Chestnut Streets.

  • That bill will also be referred to committee.

  • And a non-privileged resolution calling for the creation of an Office of Chief Revenue Generator and the establishment of a City Policy to Generate Non-Tax Revenue.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Henon.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

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

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Mr. President, I have one privileged resolution.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Mr. Decker, please read the resolution.

  • A privileged resolution honoring, recognizing and commending the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society for its dedication to saving and protecting neglected animals and its service as an active and effective resource for disadvantaged pets.

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

    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 Nineteenth Ward of the City of Philadelphia.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Brien.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Goode.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer five bills on behalf of the Administration.

  • Hold on. Do we have an electrician in the house?

  • (Microphones not working properly.)

  • An ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 from the General Fund, certain or all City offices, departments, boards and commissions.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Goode. You had five bills?

  • You already sent them up? Thank you.

  • An ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 from the Grants Revenue Fund, the Director of Finance - Provision for Other Grants to the General Fund, certain or all City offices, departments, boards and commissions.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 from the Grants Revenue Fund, the Director of Finance - Provision for Other Grants to the General Fund, the Managing Director.

  • That bill will also be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 within the General Fund, the Department of Human Services.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance authorizing transfers in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 from the Grants Revenue Fund, the Director of Finance - Provision for Other Grants to the General Fund, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.

  • That bill will also be referred to the appropriate committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning. I offer one bill.

  • Mr. President, I might add that that bill was co-sponsored by the Chair of L&I and Public Safety, Councilmember Sanchez and Jones.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    Mr. Decker.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 9-600 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Service and Other Businesses," by providing for the licensing of touch therapy, and by repealing certain provisions relating to massage and massage businesses.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have five bills, two on behalf of the Administration and one privileged resolution.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

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

  • Thank you.

    I'm sorry. Mr. Decker, read the title of the bills.

  • An ordinance amending Subcode "F" of Title 4 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "The Philadelphia Fire Code," the base code of which is the 2009 edition of the International Fire Code published by the International Code Council, with certain amendments thereto, by further amending the 2009 International Fire Code and the previous Philadelphia amendments.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Chapter 13-100 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Water Rates," and amending Chapter 13-200 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Sewer Rates," by providing for an independent rate-making body and processes and procedures for fixing and regulating rates and charges.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Section 9-213 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Farmers' Markets" by adding Pretzel Park as a permissible location.

  • That bill will also be referred to committee.

  • And an ordinance to amend the Philadelphia Zoning Maps by changing the zoning designations of certain areas of land located within an area bounded by Ford Road, Conshohocken Road, Country Club Road, Wadsworth Road (Extended), Lankenau Road, and Cranston Road.

  • That bill will also be referred to committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Title 9 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Regulation of Businesses, Trades and Professions," by adding a section requiring a license for the placement of drop-off bins intended to receive donations of clothing and household items and establishing maintenance requirements in connection with such bins.

  • That bill will be referred to 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 Fifty-Second Ward of the City of Philadelphia.

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

    Councilman O'Neill has indicated he has no bills or resolutions. I now recognize Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer two bills.

  • An ordinance phasing over a period of years the effects of the changes in real property assessments determined by the actual evaluation initiative and authorizing real estate taxes for the City of Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia for Fiscal Year 2014 and thereafter by amending Chapter 19-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Real Estate Taxes"; providing for a tax and tax rate on real property; and by amending Chapter 19-1800 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "School Tax Authorization."

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Zoning and Planning," by amending sections of the /CTR, Center City Overlay District to apply special controls to an area bounded by the west side of I-95, Race Street, 4th Street, and New Street.

  • That bill will also be referred to committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

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

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one non-privileged resolution co-introduced with Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • A privileged resolution authorizing a joint hearing between Council's Committees on Education and Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy to hold hearings to examine best practices in education on a global basis to determine how they may be implemented to establish world class public education in Philadelphia.

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

    That concludes our introductions of bills and resolutions. The next order of business is reports from committees.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilwoman Tasco for a report from the Committee of Finance.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The Committee on Finance reports two bills 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 Finance, to which was referred Bill No. 130226, entitled "An ordinance authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property of the City of Philadelphia in cooperation with the Philadelphia Municipal Authority to undertake a project to promote the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City of Philadelphia; authorizing and approving (i) the Project, (ii) the entering into, execution and delivery of an amendment to an existing Lease between the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Municipal Authority, (iii) the issuance by the Philadelphia Municipal Authority of bonds in one or more series to pay the costs of the Project, (iv) the assignment of the amendment to such Lease to a trustee, and (v) the obligation of the City of Philadelphia to pay rent under the Lease, as amended, when due"; and

    Also Bill No. 130228, entitled "An ordinance constituting the Sixteenth Supplemental Ordinance to the Restated General Water and Wastewater Revenue Bond Ordinance of 1989, as supplemented; authorizing the Bond Committee to issue and sell either at public or private sale Water and Wastewater Revenue Bonds," respectfully reports it has considered the same and returns the attached bills to Council with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair again recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bills No. 130226 and 130228.

  • (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. 130226 and 130228.

    All those in favor say aye.

  • (No response.)

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

    At this point the next order of business is the consideration of the Calendar. I note that the bills just reported from committee with a 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 for our next session of Council.

    As there are no additional bills on the First Reading Calendar, the Chair now recognizes Councilman Jones to call up bills and resolutions on Final Passage.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The following resolutions and bills are being called up for Second Reading and Final Passage Calendars today: Nos. 130232, 130233, 130240, 120822, 120825, and 120796. All other resolutions and bills are being held.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Before considering these bills and resolutions, we will have public comment. Public comment will go as follows: There is a podium in the middle of the Council. There's a device on the podium. The device will turn green hopefully when it is your time to speak, and when it turns yellow, you have 30 seconds to conclude, and when it turns red, your three minutes for testimony has been terminated.

    I'm hoping that that mic works.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the first name on the witness list.

    And just for the record, just for the record, the sick leave bill is not on the Calendar. It has been vetoed, so it's not on the Calendar today. If there's anyone interested in testifying, that is not a bill that is listed on the Final Passage today.

    Mr. Decker, please read the title of the witness list.

  • James Foster, commenting on 130232.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Thank you, Council President Clarke and members of the Council. I'm here to speak on Bill 130232, which is a resolution to exclude any further City involvement with credit default swaps. Now, that is a phrase that practically no one understands except the people that created them. I'll try to make the explanation quick and then cut to the chase of why this particular bill should be discussed further, because it will cause the City to lose $240 million.

    Credit default swaps were created by Wall Street whiz kids from Wharton to basically entice administrations and cities to use a very complicated method of supposedly creating low interest ways to finance major projects. Several cities have been done in badly by using these swaps, the worst of which was Montgomery, Alabama.

    The way I describe these swaps is this: In street language, this is like placing a couple hundred million dollars of taxpayer money into a trifecta at the track, but even if you win the trifecta, then the money is gambled again on three-card monte, which the deck is shuffled by a politician.

    This city is involved in some swaps. The amount involved, if the City tries to walk away from it, will be a penalty of $240 million. Now, two individuals were sentenced to jail in this city for trying to persuade this city to use more of these swaps a few years back. Those of you who have been around a while will remember LeCroy and Snell from J.P. Morgan, the very same bank that enticed Montgomery, Alabama and Philadelphia to get involved in these.

    What I'm suggesting is this: J.P. Morgan has forgiven, forgiven Montgomery, Alabama of the $600 million penalty because it didn't want any more bad press from the very, very sick deal that took place down there. We will lose 240 million if we don't take the same stand as Montgomery. That penalty should not be paid. There's plenty of places we could spend $240 million. And the very fact that we're involved in this has not been properly discussed. I suggest that Council hold an additional hearing. I'll be glad to testify to more detail. This kind of situation reflects badly on the whole city and it's a waste of our taxpayers' money.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    I would like to repeat, I'd ask all guests and visitors to please turn their cell phones and other devices on silent. Thank you.

    Mr. Decker.

  • I'm sorry. The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The last speaker is correct in his position, but I think he misunderstands the resolution. The resolution is to support a Senate bill which would disallow any municipal in the Commonwealth from entering into such swaps in the future.

    We have been trying through hearings and other efforts to get the Administration to actually sue some of these banks to get some of the money back or to get us out of --

  • (Applause.)

  • -- to get us out of the penalty fees or to waive the penalty fees for us to get out of these deals.

    I am a wholehearted supporter of what the speaker had to say, but I want to pass the resolution to send a message to the State Senate Banking and Insurance Committee that we are in fact against entering into these swaps, and that my understanding is that there's been some lobbying by the City potentially to exempt Philadelphia from the ban. We want to make sure that the Senate Banking Committee had a full sense of Council's view, and that's why I introduced the resolution, so they understand where we stand on the issue.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Clarc King, commenting on 130232.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Thank you. My name is Clarc King. I'm a resident and citizen of Philadelphia.

    The City and the political leadership in general must come to the conclusion that we must create and implement the economy formation measures to protect the population. The financial system throughout the world is in a state of collapse. According to the fed's monetary logic, the hyperinflationary unlimited bailout system requires high unemployment to check inflation. Political leadership in Washington have implemented sequestration. City officials must discern the implications. Avoid and be alert to the inducement to entangle the City's resources and insolvent financial system that does not work in the interest of the population.

    I ask that the political leadership look over the consequences of the Dodd-Frank Act, Title II and figure out what exactly are the City's accounts in relationship to the big banks.

    The creation of the Bank of Philadelphia must be explored. The City's financial resources, equity, assets, property, cash flow, tax base, et cetera, can serve as the basis of its credit issuance. It is possible to slit the exercise and resources of the local fed facility that can open a Philadelphia window to further the bank's fundamentals. Full employment and infrastructure projects, modernizing City properties, capital investments in new projects are now possible. Money, which is credit, is supposed to be used to direct the increase of labor's productive power. This is economy formation, credit and infrastructure, physical political economy as executed by Alexander Hamilton, Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin, and Henry Carey, economic advisor to President Lincoln.

    The obsession to save the monetary financial debt-based bailout system operate the financial offensive and credit default swaps is wasteful and dangerous to human life. The monetary financial system must be reorganized.

    That's all I have to say.

  • Thank you so much for your testimony, sir.

  • (Applause.)

  • Francis Nuessle, commenting on 130232.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Councilman Kenney, members of the City Council, my name is Frank Nuessle, like the chocolate, and I'm the Director of Research at the Public Banking Institute and a member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Project. In addition, I teach graduate courses in sustainability in the Organizational Dynamics program at the University of Pennsylvania.

    The Public Banking Institute and the Pennsylvania Project are both non-profit, non-partisan public policy advocacy organizations engaged in public education to support the creation of a network of public banks around the United States at the state, county, and municipal level.

    I'm here today to testify in support of your Resolution 130232 urging the State Senate of Pennsylvania to enact SB 293, a measure that will repeal the legal ability of all Pennsylvania municipalities to enter into financially risky qualified interest rate management agreements, commonly known as swaps.

    According to the reports of the Office of the Pennsylvania Auditor General and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, which you have already reviewed, these financial instruments, these swaps, have already cost the City and its schools more than $500 million. This at a time when the long recession caused by these same Wall Street banks has resulted in unemployment, home foreclosures, lost revenue, budget cuts that are having a catastrophic effect on the City's people, schools, and neighborhoods.

    Everybody in this room knows what's going on, but what everybody needs to acknowledge is that these losses could and should have been avoided altogether. Swaps were never necessary to hedge against interest rate fluctuations. For almost 100 years, that insurance hedge was provided by responsible municipal financial managers who employed the technique referred to as laddering. I won't go into how that works, but I'm sure you're all familiar with it.

    Not only do we urge you to support the legislation which is the subject of your deliberations today, we urge you to do more. We urge you to support creation of a public bank for Philadelphia. Today, much of the tax and other revenues of this city are captive to the top -- to the too big to fail Wall Street banks, the banks that did fail and were then bailed out, but the City of Philadelphia has not been bailed out. So let me ask two questions.

    First, why does the City continue to reward incompetence and, according to widely published reports, outright fraud by using the Wall Street banks when there is an alternative? Philadelphia can reduce its risk, invest its funds in its own economy, lower borrowing costs, and rebuild its neighborhood infrastructure with its own public bank working in partnership with the many sound local community banks that are doing honest business in this city.

    Second question, how secure are the Philadelphia deposits held in the too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks? If some rogue trader -- I'm getting buzzed here. Does that mean I have to stop?

  • Time for you to conclude your remarks, yes, sir.

  • Well, I'm not finished.

  • (Applause.)

  • Can you give me another minute.

  • Sir, in all due respect, we do have guidelines.

  • Well, I don't feel very respected, but here we are.

  • (Applause.)

  • Jihad Ali, commenting on 130232, 130240, and 120825.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Good morning, Council President.

  • Members of Council. I'm here today on Resolution 130240 and 130233.

    I'm really here to talk about the Redevelopment Authority, because the other day I had a meeting with the new Executive Director, Brian Abernathy, but along with myself and a developer named Sean Frankel. Council President, you know Mr. Frankel. And one thing that Representative Bass didn't know was, Sean Frankel has a very bad speech impediment. He stutters extensively. So when we had this meeting, he wanted to go meet with the Redevelopment Authority to talk about his expressed interest in a property located in Philadelphia.

    So we went to the meeting, and Sean -- you know, people with disabilities, they have courage, because it takes courage to come out every day in the world. And to hear a guy that stutters to be able to finish a sentence, what I just did, it could take him a minute. So that's really the kind of courage I don't have and I haven't -- I respect people that do that.

    So when he finished his presentation with Mr. Abernathy about this property, Mr. Abernathy -- he told Mr. Abernathy that he had a letter from one of our distinguished Councilpeople that ran in him to support. He had been trying to get this property for two years. He partnered with our organization. I'm a member of the Guardian Civic League, which is a black police organization in Philadelphia over 56 years, and we have partnered with Mr. Frankel on a PHA project and we won six properties and we developed them. It was a way for our organization to get funds to do the things that are important to us.

    So when he went to Mr. Abernathy, after he struggled to get that out, Mr. Abernathy, once he told him about the letter, he said, That letter means absolutely nothing. He said, I was sent over here by the Mayor because I am not going to sell any property that is not appraised at $50,000. And following that leadership of this Council, after having attended all these budget hearings, I hear when you ask, Show me the proof. So I asked Mr. Abernathy, Give me the document.

    He sent me a document. It has no mention of anything being appraised at $50,000 being sold. But what really irritated me was his disrespect for Mr. Frankel. Because I don't like bullies and I don't like people that take advantage of people with disabilities.

    Mr. Frankel is a developer who partnered with the Guardian because the Guardian is a black organization that has struggled to get ahead. He partnered with us because he said to me once when I met him, I understand what it's like to be discriminated against, I experience it every day. And I believed him, and since then, we have done tremendous things.

    But I'm here today to talk about the Redevelopment Authority, because as we move forward, this land banking, we need to know exactly who are these members serving over there. Are they serving the people like you all serve or are they serving the Mayor?

    I have nothing against the Mayor, but we just need to know when people take these authorities, these positions, who are they serving? Who does their loyalty lie to?

    When you come down here to this Council, I respect you all, all y'all. Y'all try your best to handle the people's business. Like Councilwoman Blackwell says, in the people's house, you handle our business, and that was experienced two Thursdays ago when the people came here and made a decision.

    I also wanted to say to you all, I was so irritated what happened yesterday, I came to see the first leader that I thought that would defend me, and that was Councilwoman Blackwell. She immediately picked up the phone.

  • (Applause.)

  • She called Mr. Abernathy. He called her back, and then he had a different -- he had a different explanation. But Councilwoman Blackwell will tell the Councilmember who we're talking about. I just don't think this is appropriate means. But I wanted to talk about that so you would know to pay attention to that.

    The other thing is on Bill No. 130825. We had a hearing.

  • They didn't give me the document.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Doris Thomas, commenting on 130232.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Good afternoon, Council President, all the Councilmembers of Philadelphia. I just want to say my name is Doris Thomas. I happen to be a disabled American veteran. I also happen to be an activist in the City of Philadelphia, as well as the fact that when I saw that this bill was on the docket today, I think that you need to realize that the School District of Philadelphia gave $335 million to the banks because of these bad swap deals. I think even before that happened last year, you need to remember that there was $700 billion that was given to the banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as Wells Fargo Bank. All of the five big banks received money from Congress, so that way they could stay afloat.

    So I'm wondering why are all of these different bad swap deals taking place over the last five, six, seven years in order to keep the banks afloat, but yet, there again, what happened to the bailout for the people on Main Street? We forgot about rebuilding our homes. We forgot about how the banks are supposed to invest in the communities, how the banks are supposed to invest in our schools, how the banks are supposed to invest in entrepreneurship for those of us who are new and up and coming, budding entrepreneurs. So when we go to the banks and we are seeking assistance, financial assistance, a lot of us did not receive the loans in order to keep our homes intact, to stay in our homes. Most people have to go over to the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion court and utilize housing counselors in order to divert their home from going into foreclosure.

    So I want everyone to remember that the banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase as well as Wells Fargo decided to divest from the Philadelphia community. They took hundreds of millions of dollars away from our schools. And we have 23 schools currently that have closed due to the SRC to show that they did not represent the City's best interest.

    Thank you very much and have a wonderful day.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you. Thank you for your testimony, ma'am.

  • Jerry Jordan, commenting on 130232.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Councilman Clarke and to the members of City Council, I want -- I don't want to spend time repeating many of the things that have already been said. However, I do want to say that as you just heard from the previous speaker, that swaps certainly have a huge impact on our schools and on our students, and I'm here today to urge you to support the resolution against having the swaps in Philadelphia as well as in the School District.

    Teachers aren't experts in many of these financial issues, but we have become experts on the toll that cuts to education funding have taken on our schools and our children.

    Philadelphia has only 42 librarians for 239 schools. That's quite a toll. We've seen the layoffs of 101 school nurses, putting our children's health at risk. Twenty-five percent of our schools have no music teachers. There's been less support for English language learners and special education students and fewer tutoring and sports programs. And budget constraints have caused the District to move to privatize our city's nationally lauded early childhood education program.

    These are just a few examples of how cuts in state aid have been structured to hit Philadelphia particularly hard, and the money that the School District has lost on swaps that the previous speaker just testified about is money that could have been put those services that I just listed back in schools for children.

    Other cities have taken action to get their citizens out from underneath the burden of swaps. For example, the City Council of Oakland has pledged to not do business with Goldman Sachs ever again until it let's the city out of the termination fee associated with its swap agreements.

    Our children's future and our school funding through a rational, predictable, and sustainable means is necessary. Doing right for our schools and the students we serve means not saddling them with debt racked up through overly optimistic speculations and risky investments. I urge you to support the resolution.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you for your testimony.

  • Kimberly Washington, commenting on 130232.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Good morning. My name is Kimberly L. Washington, committeewoman of Ward 2, Division 13 and volunteer of Fight for Philly. I am here with great concern about the devastating effect that is taking place on our children in Philadelphia.

    I am a single mother and a homeowner. I have a grandchild that will be entering first grade next year, and because of the cuts to the education system and the overcrowding of the classrooms, my daughter, also a working single mother, has decided to put her daughter into a charter school out of our area. Do you think it's fair to my grandchild not to be able to go to school in her neighborhood where we as a family pay high tax?

    I want to see our public schools fully funded. We need to stop gambling with our children lives and future. Swap deals with big banks takes money from our children and give it to the rich bankers. We need to stop giving gifts to Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs and invest in the schools and our children. I encourage you, the state legislators, to ban the swap deals.

    Thank you and have a good day.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you for your testimony.

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

  • Thank you very much.

    That concludes our public comment. We will now call up bills and resolutions on the Final and Second Reading Passage Calendar.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of 130232.

  • A resolution urging the State Senate of Pennsylvania to enact Senate Bill 293, a measure that will repeal the legal ability of all municipalities to enter into financially risky qualified interest rate management agreements, commonly known as "swaps."

  • 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. Resolution 130232 has been adopted.

  • (Applause.)

  • Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of 130233.

  • 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 Forty-Third Ward of the City of Philadelphia.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • 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. Resolution 130233 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of 130240.

  • 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 Eleventh and Fifty-Ninth Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • 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. 130240 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of 120822.

  • An ordinance amending Title 19 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Finance, Taxes and Collections," by changing the interest rate and penalty rate for unpaid taxes; and by making clarifying amendments concerning the suspension or tolling of various statutes of limitations.

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

    Mr. Decker, please read the title of Bill No. 120825.

  • An ordinance authorizing the Concession Agreement regarding the Burholme Park Golf Center between the City of Philadelphia and Burholme Golf & Family Entertainment Center to have an Initial Term of ten years and, at the City's option, up to two Renewal Terms of five years each.

  • 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 all members present voting in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, please read the title of 120796.

  • An ordinance amending Section 19-2604 of The Philadelphia Code relating to tax rates and credits for the Business Income and Receipts Tax by providing a credit for contributions to non-profit organizations engaged in developing and implementing healthy food initiatives.

  • Thank you.

    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 all members present voting in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, do you have any additional resolutions?

  • A resolution honoring, recognizing and commending the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society for its dedication to saving and protecting neglected animals and its service as an active and effective resource for disadvantaged pets, introduced by Councilman Johnson.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • On behalf of my puppy Sasha Blue, 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 adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing a joint hearing between Council's Committees on Education and Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy to hold hearings to examine best practices in education on a global basis to determine how they may be implemented to establish world class public education in Philadelphia, introduced by Councilman Oh.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you very much. 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 adopted.

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

  • Thank you very much.

    Any speeches on the part of the minority?

  • (No response.)

  • There being none, I see we are back online.

    Are there any speeches on the part of the majority?

    Maybe we're not online. Jones first? Premature.

    Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.

    We just passed Bill No. 120822, which readjusts some of the freezing of interest when people make agreements in our Revenue Department. That wasn't the first revenue bill that I'm proud of that this body passed. We passed a bill in 2010 called the Internship Tax Credit, which would allow summer youth, whether in high school or college, to be employed by businesses in a private-sector manner to get $600 worth of credit. And as you know, you have been a strong proponent and this Council has been a strong proponent of interns getting an opportunity to work with lawmakers, but this extends it into the private sector.

    The Mayor and others have a goal of 10,000 jobs this summer for young people. We're currently funding about 5,000. This Internship Tax Credit has an opportunity to go out to the private sector, incentivize them to pick up a young person for the summer or any part of the year. We signed this into law in 2010. The regs just were written finally that will include 2013. We will be introducing an amendment to extend it to 2014 to be able to provide this kind of opportunity for young people. They'll be able to get a minimum of $8 an hour, not to exceed 40 percent of their total compensation.

    It may not seem like a lot, but the difference between an internship that is done by a low- and moderate-income person often is the ability to have lunch and transportation to and from. This more than does that and puts a little change in their pockets for things like back to school clothing or books when they go back to school. This is a step in the right direction to motivate businesses to employ young people and for some of our brightest and best not to go other places to seek opportunity.

    So I want to thank the prior Council for passing. I want to thank the Administration for writing the regs, and I want to thank you in advance, Council, for an extension to include 2014 in this worthwhile tax credit.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. First, let me thank Glenn Ellis, who was here earlier and who handed me a letter dated December 16th, 1993 to Glenn Ellis from the late and great Lucien E. Blackwell as a member of Congress in supporting Glenn Ellis with regard to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1993. So I thank Glenn Ellis for giving me this letter so that I can make it a part of my Lucien E. Blackwell archives, which are everywhere in my life. And we're so happy, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, that they were talking about labeling dietary supplements and such, an issue that is close to your heart.

    The second thing I'd like to mention, I'd like to talk a little bit about school closures. We are well aware of the pain that we're going through with regard to school closings, and we thank all of those who have fought to keep more than a dozen schools open. Now we're down to 23. And we're especially happy that the head of PFT, Jerry Jordan, is here today, and we associate ourselves and agree with all the comments he must make, but we continue and we add that the battle still continues. We have to still be diligent.

    We still are concerned about the safety of our students in schools and their travels to and from schools. We're still concerned about whether or not more people will be hired to deal with safety personnel about how the School District is dealing with safe corridors. Many of us have done and worked with the community and the Police Department for years on safe corridors, but there's many more work that needs to be done in that area.

    We're still concerned about how children feel when they hear their schools will close and what the School District is going to compensate for that, and we still want to know overall their contingency plans and economic indicators being tracked to deal with school closings. How soon will the School District let the public know of their intentions if there are going to be even more additional schools in the future? And we still want to know about the limits and the plans to limit charter school funding. They've been successful in trying to make traditional schools and charter schools fight one another when we all represent the same children, and I'm always speaking against that.

    We have Dr. Walter D. Palmer, who is here today, who is part of obviously the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School and who has been granted the $91,000 and has been waiting on it for months to get his payment.

    So it's these kinds of issues that still concern us and that still make us realize that we have so much to do and we're well into April with regard to public schools and our future.

    I'd like to conclude by saying on Monday, there will be a press conference in our Caucus Room at 9:30, and this press conference will be sponsored by Orlando Acosta and Vernard Johnson, Respect Our Vote Movement group, and they are going to Harrisburg on Wednesday. And you've seen them around. If they're here, I hope they'll stand and be recognized, because they're behind this pole, as is Dr. Palmer. Orlando Acosta is in the hallway. And they are taking a trip to Harrisburg Wednesday to deal with school closures.

    I would like to thank the Majority Leader, Councilman Jones, who along with myself tried to help them sponsor the bus so that they may do what they've been fighting to do, and that is to fight to keep schools open.

    Having said that, thank you all, and I hope that you all will take a few minutes just to come and hear what they have to say on Monday morning at 9:30.

    Thank you very much, Mr. President and colleagues.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    Mr. President and colleagues, today I'm continuing to advocate and emphasize the importance of doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the people have accurate property assessments under AVI. To me accurate assessments means assessments that are in line with what their homes would sell and appraise for. Otherwise, the residents of the City of Philadelphia as well as my constituents will never have confidence in this process, as well as us as a legislative body.

    Recently I was contacted by a constituent who purchased several properties from the Redevelopment Authority. The properties were all appraised in 2012 and was recently sold for what the City appraised them for. After the new property assessments by OPA, those same properties were valued at 33 to 143 percent higher than the appraised value and sale price given by the City in 2012, leaving my constituents to conclude that AVI is not about fairness or accuracy, but rather about generating more property tax revenue.

    To give you an example, all in the Point Breeze area, one property which was appraised by the Redevelopment Authority was appraised for 60,000. It was sold for 55,000, and in 2014, it was appraised by OPA at an assessment of 97,000.

    We had another property that was appraised by the Redevelopment Authority at 60,000, sold for 58,000, but was also appraised by the Office of Property Assessment at 93,000.

    Now, here's the kicker: You had another property that was appraised by the Redevelopment Authority at 42,000, sold for 46,000. Under OPA it was assessed at $109,700.

    Now, I attended a community meeting yesterday and one of the constituents got up and talked about this process of property assessments and asked me, quite frankly, is the Administration and OPA using fuzzy math to come up with these property assessments. I didn't have an explanation for the disparity between the assessments and the appraised values of the homes that were given, but what I do know, that if this assessment process is working as intended, we will not see consistently, meeting after meeting, more than 90 percent of the residents who come out to these community meetings not talking about them paying their fair share but the inaccuracies of the assessments, house by house, block by block.

    So, again, my thought is that there's a flaw in the process. There's a flaw in the formula. The Administration, OPA need to let the public see what is the actual formula that they came up with when it comes to implementing AVI in assessing people's properties, not only throughout the 2nd Councilmanic District but also throughout the surrounding districts that also are significantly impacted.

    So as we move forward in this process, in order for this process to be legitimate, I will continue to advocate and make sure that it's done right, this process is transparent. And it was even suggested why not at this particular time use these numbers, these first-year numbers, as an estimate as we work out those numbers that are inaccurate or seem not properly done throughout this process.

    So my staff and I will be working with some other community groups to make sure that if we move forward, it's done accurately, it's done right, but at this particular time, I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the process in terms of how they went about going out. No one yesterday mentioned that they pulled permits or anyone even came into their home, so how do you come up with these inflated numbers.

    And so I just wanted to make this statement for the record. We will continue advocating as we move through this process to make sure it's actually done right.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Just quickly on the AVI issue. Mr. McKeithen was quoted this week in the paper and I think said it at a Council hearing that people who file first-level appeals should be careful, because if they file a first-level appeal and information is brought to OPA, Property Assessments Office attention, they might have their assessment raised further than it's been already.

    That's not only unfortunate, it's unfair. I think these folks that we go to these community meetings and hear their tales of whoa are older, they're working families, they're not wealthy people, and they've been whacked with -- in their opinion, whacked with a property assessment that's far above their ability to pay based on the Mayor's requested or suggested millage rate.

    But for a public official to be making more than just a veiled threat in writing in the newspaper quoted, is that you'd better be careful, if you want to challenge our assessments, we may just turn around and raise them even higher, I think is extremely, extremely bad taste. It's not something that a public official should be doing. And these people -- our people are frightened enough out there with this process without holding that hammer over their head. So I wish he would refrain from saying it and perhaps even issue some statement of retraction, because I think he's wrong.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. We spoke to both these issues that were mentioned by my colleagues in our Council sessions and here on our Stated Meeting day, and certainly as we've said, in all the meetings I've attended and been a part of, we haven't met one family who had someone come to their home, and when the question was asked on budget, to assess their property, they said maybe they did 10 or 12 or 15 percent. I haven't met one person in my district who said somebody came to their house. And as Councilman Kenney said, I read the article. To threaten people is unconscionable. Not only that, I've had members from neighborhood papers all over the district who came to USP where the meeting was scheduled that the Administration set up, not through me, and we had five community groups - Spruce Hill, Walnut Hill, Garden Court, Cedar Park, and Clark Park - and other owners and property and interested committed people in University City there. Not one person heard any threat given to Mr. McKeithen as the reason as to why they refuse to come in the 3rd District.

    I know the Administration doesn't want to hear me say this, but you started it, I didn't, and it is unconscionable that you choose areas that you all decide to visit in my district. I go to all the meetings I hear about, many churches, many other groups. Community organizations are still giving meetings. We will continue to go and I will continue to speak against the Administration representing my district, because if I don't agree, that means then you don't come. What nonsense is that? We're in a democratic forum here, and we have a right and a responsibility to fight for the views of the people who elect us here.

    I'm clear on why I'm here. I'm clear on what my role is. And as long as I'm here, I will continue to try to represent the people in the 3rd District who elect me. If they have a problem with that, then that's their problem. It certainly isn't mine.

    But to set the record straight, I agree with the comments made by Councilman Johnson and Kenney and certainly reiterate, nobody heard Mr. McKeithen threatened. Nobody knows where it came from. I've checked with many, many people, and there are many astute people in my district. That was the University City area meeting that the Administration set up. And they claim this threat that caused police to -- us to spend more dollars for all this police protection about a threat that only they know about.

    Thank you very much.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    There are no other speeches. I'm having a challenge with our technology.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • I certainly want to reiterate the issue around AVI is around protecting residents, and for that reason, I want to thank Council President and the Administration. We have a lot of work to do around educating folks around this. I am extremely concerned. And I want to thank Council President and his staff for continuing to pull data from us. I have 22,000 people who have not applied for homestead. Homestead represents a $400 saving. So while we're going to continue to debate the issue of AVI, we also need to do our best to reach these hard-to-reach communities and ensure that people, at the end of the day, get protected.

    So I want to encourage the Administration to continue to do more, and I will continue to push them. I want to thank the Council President for allowing us the resources to continue to reach out to our residents. And the goal should be that we protect everyone. So let's make sure we get everyone the senior freeze and the homestead application. I encourage all my colleagues -- that's the one issue we agree on, that we need to protect people, so let's make sure we help the Administration get to those folks.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    There are no other speeches. The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown. For a motion or for a speech?

  • I feel compelled as well to underscore this notion of education and to put my former teacher hat on for five seconds.

    It takes children seven times to hear something before they actually get it. And as I have attended a couple of these AVI community meetings, my heart breaks for seniors who are anguished and scared that they are, A, not aware of what the protections are; B, clearly not familiar with the deadlines; and, C, actually need help in the completion of the applications.

    So I would also underscore the request and urge the Administration to do the layering. I mean, some of us get it by hearing it, others of us get it by reading it, and then others of us get it through some kind of art form.

    Enough work has not been done to ensure that seniors in particular, veterans, those on fixed incomes are aware of the protections in place. We simply have not done enough of the work.

    So I want to also thank you and put on the record the work that you have in mind for members of your team to alert citizens around the City about the homestead act and others, we have not done the work. We've been talking about this for three years. I was surprised to learn that there are many of our citizens who were completely unaware that we've been having dialogue, conversations, debates, and arguments about how we implement AVI.

    So there's still a lot of work that needs to be done in informing citizens that the reality is here, it's in front of us, and we got to, as the vernacular of the street, get with the program, but we can only have them get with the program if they are fully armed with the accurate current information.

    With that, Mr. President, I move that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, April the 11th, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, 10:00 a.m., 2013, April 11th.

    All those in favor say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. Council is adjourned.

    Thank you all very much.

  • (Stated Meeting adjourned at 12:05 p.m.)