Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

  • Good morning, everyone.

  • (Good morning.)

  • We have established a quorum. Council will come to order. I would ask all guests and visitors to please retire behind the rail. Thank you very much.

    To give our invocation this morning, the Chair recognizes Pastor Kevin Johnson of Bright Hope Baptist Church, also of the 5th Councilmanic District.

    Thank you, sir.

    He is here today as the guest of Councilwoman Marian Tasco. I'd ask all guests and members to please rise.

  • (Members and guests rise.)

  • Shall we pray.

    Lord, we've come this morning to the citadel of hope. While some have given up on politics and America, this august body of political leaders still has hope.

    As we remember those who started African American History Month, we realize that it was hope that gave birth to this nation. Yes, it was hope that inspired Crispus Attucks to fight in the American Revolutionary War and become its first martyr. It was hope that led Harriet Tubman to return again and again to free slaves in the south. Yes, it was hope that gave Frederick Douglass his courage. It was hope that stirred Thurgood Marshall's legal mind. It was hope that gave Mahalia Jackson her song. And, yes, it was hope that made Rosa Parks sit down so that Martin Luther King, Jr. could stand up.

    So this morning we've come again to this citadel of hope, for we share Sterling Brown's In a Time Like This demand strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands.

    God, we pray today that you will continue to give us leaders, leaders who will represent the rich and the poor, leaders who will ensure that every Philadelphian is ensured to have all the rights that he or she deserves, and leaders like Horace Mann who understand that we cannot be content to wait and see what will happen, but rather give us the determination to make the right things happen.

    God, we give you thanks for our Council President, Darrell Clarke, and for all of those who work ably with him in this great Philadelphia City Council. We pray now for your blessings upon this meeting and upon this business today.

    In your name we pray. Amen.

  • Thank you, Pastor, for those inspiring words.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you. The next order of business is the approval of the Journal of Thursday, January 31st, 2013.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, January 31st, 2013 be approved.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the Journal of the meeting of January 31st, Thursday, 2013 stand approved.

    All those in favor please say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The Journal is approved.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

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

  • The Chair thanks the gentleman.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

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

  • Thank you so much, Councilman.

    At this time, I would like to dispense with the regular order of business. I would like to thank everyone for coming down today. I want to welcome you to our Chambers. We hope this is an inspiring visit. We hope that you like it so much that you actually come back again. So I want to thank you all and welcome you to our wonderful Chambers.

    At this time, I would like to recognize Councilman Johnson, who will present a resolution honoring and commending 100 Black Men of America, Incorporated - the Philadelphia Chapter. Would Mr. Fred Whiten and those accompanying him please join the Councilman at the podium.

    And I see we have Councilman Goode, Councilman Jones, Councilman Kenney, Councilman O'Neill, and Councilwoman Bass also joining the Councilman.

    Correction; Councilman O'Brien.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, today I'm truly honored and inspired to have this opportunity to present this resolution honoring the 100 Black Men of Philadelphia. As we celebrate Black History Month, I've had the good fortune to meet a gentleman who this citation is in honor of by the name of Mr. Johnny Walker. He was a strong advocate of small business development. He was a strong advocate of mentoring and educating African American young men and making sure that they have an opportunity to focus on getting involved in things that are positive as opposed to the things that are negative.

    It's also fitting that as I present this resolution honoring the 100 Black Men of Philadelphia, it's a good opportunity to recognize some of the good work that is taking place in the City of Philadelphia. So often we have the opportunity to look at what's negative taking place throughout the City as it relates to young men, rather it's gang violence, rather it's gun violence, rather it's getting involved in all things that aren't productive as it relates to moving this city forward. I'm just truly happy to present this resolution focusing on something that's positive that represents the best that this city has to offer. And I would like to thank all my colleagues for joining me here today.

    Whereas, in 1991, the international office of 100 Black Men of America, Incorporated approved a charter for 100 Black Men of Philadelphia as a member of the non-profit organization after the chapter founder Roland Jarvis saw a local need and spearheaded the effort. Jarvis found 25 other men who shared his vision and mission and they decided to make a difference. 100 Black Men of Philadelphia developed programs that fit with the international office mission, known as "Four for the Future": mentoring, education, health and wellness, and economic development; and

  • Whereas, 100 Black Men of Philadelphia focused on mentoring but also developed "Christmas in April" and a golfing program. The activities gave inner-city young men an opportunity to broaden their horizons aided by men eager to share their skills and time; and

    Whereas, Michael Young succeeded Jarvis as president and emphasized recruiting to help the local chapter to continue its growth. In 2003, Ken Lassiter took the helm and developed fundraising concepts unique to his style and approach. Lassiter also created a chess program and a Philadelphia Eagles bowling fundraiser; and

  • In 2007, the late John Walker and 25 others revived the then-dormant Philadelphia chapter with the approval of the international body. 100 Black Men of Philadelphia returned to action with a different approach but the same message: help our youth in the City of Brotherly Love; and

  • Whereas, the chapter received a new charter from international headquarters at the organization's 2008 conference in Orlando, Florida. Newly elected chapter President Frederick L. Whiten and other dedicated chapter members wasted no time in developing new ideas, strategies, and programs. They aligned themselves with other local organizations, realizing that the problems of gun violence, crime, and children leaving school could not be handled by 100 Black Men of Philadelphia alone; and

  • Whereas, the re-energized chapter started the Minority Entrepreneur Apprentice Program to train young people in the real estate field, and re-ignited the very important Chess Club Mentoring Program;

    Whereas, a new initiative, the African American History Challenge Team, finished second in its maiden voyage at the organization's 2012 AAHC international competition; and

  • Whereas, 100 Black Men of Philadelphia, through its community efforts, mentoring programs, and corporate and community partnerships now stands as a mainstay within the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Its activities breathe life into its motto: "What They See is What They'll Be." By doing so, 100 Black Men of Philadelphia continues to help the City of Philadelphia develop civic-minded and positive men; now therefore

  • Resolved, by the Council of the City of Philadelphia, that we hereby honor, recognize, and commend 100 Black Men of America, Incorporated - the Philadelphia Chapter for its extraordinary service focused on mentoring, education, health and wellness, and economic development.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to 100 Black Men of Philadelphia as evidence of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.

    And at this time, I'd like to present this resolution to you and say congratulations.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Mr. Whiten for remarks.

  • Good morning. My name is Fred Whiten, it's W-H-I-T-E-N. I'm humbled by this honor. Rarely I am without words, but I thank Kenyatta Johnson. He's my very good friend and sponsor. We look forward to working with all of you to increase the positive activities in the City.

    If any of you have a need to join our organization, we appreciate you calling us. There's much, much work to do. I don't really have to tell you how big this problem is. So we need everyone on board.

    Again, I thank you for your support and recognition.

  • (Applause.)

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you. At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Jones, who will present a resolution honoring and celebrating the United Bank of Philadelphia. Would Evelyn Smalls and those accompanying her please join the Councilman at the podium.

    And we also have Councilman Johnson and Councilwoman Bass and Councilwoman Blackwell and Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • (Good morning.)

  • It is not without recognition that February is Black History Month. We realize in these Chambers that history is made every day, and that going back two decades ago, there was a paper. It was called a White Paper that was produced by elite Wall Street firms, and many bright minds came together to figure out what was truly wrong with the formation and growth and development of African American businesses. And after a lot of research, they realized that at the end of the day, businesses needed capital to grow.

    At that point, looking at that paper, a group of individuals, investors, here in the fine City of Philadelphia formed the United Bank to fill that gap in capital to African American firms and to firms and small businesses in general. What we should understand is that 20 years later, they still exist.

    Juxtapose the fact that the Small Business Administration recognizes that most businesses will fail in the first five years, this group has survived several recessions and arguably over the last couple of years a depression, but this wasn't the first time they faced that, because what we understand is that the same word in China for crisis is the same word for opportunity.

    S&Ls had failed. Seven hundred and forty-seven savings and loans, institutions, thrift institutions collapsed, and they understood that crisis is the same as opportunity. They began on a buying spree to increase their assets, to fortify their position in the marketplace, and to establish themselves. Twenty years later, they have consistently been in Black Enterprise's top 25 financial institutions in the nation. Today we honor them.

    We honor and celebrate United Bank of Philadelphia and their tireless effort to provide banking services to all, especially those in low-income and underserved communities, and their relentless support and dedication to minority and small businesses in the City of Philadelphia on the occasion of their 20th Anniversary.

  • Whereas, United Bank of Philadelphia, an African American controlled and managed commercial bank, is a proud contributor to the economic fabric of this great City. The chartering of the bank in 1992 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Banking, brought together the rich diversity of leadership that had and continues to have a tremendous stake in this region; and

  • Whereas, United Bank of Philadelphia has the primary mission to deliver excellent customer service at a profit and to make United Bank of Philadelphia the "hometown" bank of choice whose goal is to foster community development by providing quality personalized comprehensive banking services to businesses and individuals in the Greater Philadelphia region, with a special sensitivity to Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and women; and

  • And whereas, United Bank of Philadelphia champions what it calls the "Cycle of Progress" where resources are continuously reinvested back into area businesses and neighborhoods with inclusive practices that create opportunities for advancement, resulting in healthy, empowered communities that are often overlooked and underutilized; and

  • Whereas, despite a period of enormous economic growth, not everyone has benefited equally. The United Bank of Philadelphia believes that through effective leadership, collaboration, and innovation change can occur and everyone can benefit; and

  • Whereas, in 2012, the Urban League of Philadelphia honored the United Bank of Philadelphia with their Community Leadership Empowerment Award for their resilient and unending support of the Minority Community; now therefore

  • Resolved, that the Council of the City of Philadelphia, hereby honors and congratulates the United Bank of Philadelphia for their tireless efforts to provide banking services to all, especially those in the low-income and underserved communities, and their relentless support and dedication to the minority and small business communities on the occasion of their 20th Anniversary.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to Evelyn Smalls, President of the United Bank of Philadelphia, and its Board of Directors as evidence of our sincere sentiments of this legislative body.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Ms. Smalls for remarks.

  • (Good morning.)

  • President Clarke, Councilman Jones, all Councilmembers of this great city, and friends, I am delighted to accept this special recognition from this very important legislative body on behalf of our Board of Directors -- and many of them are here with me today -- and our management and staff. I also accept this resolution on behalf of our customers, many of whom experienced traditional banking for the very first time when they stood in line with their money held close, and I mean close.

    I know many of you recall those exciting days at 714 Market Street where our former Chairman and CEO boldly stepped out and had a dream to start this bank. You may also recall that in 1992, we were in a weak economy, and the past few years we have found ourselves in extremely volatile economic conditions, but United Bank of Philadelphia's interest in ensuring that affordable banking services are available has not wavered. We have stayed the course, for we know the need is just as important today as it was 20 years ago.

    As you know, when we reach milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries, you start to reflect. So at 20 years, that's what we did. The Board and management, we examined our past while we evaluated our current situation, and we planned strategically for the bank's next cycle of growth. In that process, it became crystal clear that we needed to capitalize on our niche. After all, we're a small business, and, therefore, we should refocus -- we decided to refocus all of our strategies as a business bank to support small businesses, which also include not-for-profit organizations in this region.

    Unlike 1992, today there are fewer corporations headquartered in this region. So we know when we extend credit to small businesses and not-for-profits, we help them create and maintain jobs, and that's what will make a stronger economy.

    In closing, I'd like to remind each of you how important multi-sector partnerships are to ensure that the citizens of this great city have every opportunity to improve their economic circumstances. We know that we can make an impact, but that impact is far greater when we all collaborate together. Ask yourself, What can I do to make this a more inclusive region?

    Now, I have a gift for you. I know from time to time your constituents may ask you, Is United Bank still around? Where are they? What are they doing? I have an answer for you. On April 15th, 2013, we will open a full-service branch at 30 South 15th Street right between Market and Chestnut, so you can tell them that we are right across the street taking deposits and making loans, go visit them. And, in fact, you may walk over with them.

    Thank you very much.

  • (Applause.)

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you. At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who will present a resolution honoring the African American Children's Book Project on the occasion of the 20th Annual African American Children's Book Fair. Ms. Sgambati has already joined the Councilwoman at the podium. I would ask other Councilmembers, and I see we have Councilwoman Bass, Councilman Johnson, Councilwoman Blackwell, and Councilwoman Tasco and Jones and Goode also joining the Councilwoman.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning. For those who know me well, you know that this educational experience is absolutely one of my favorite of the year, because it really does focus on children and literature and education and art and children and literature and education and art. So it gives me a wonderful pleasure to honor the African American Children's Book Project on the occasion of the 21st annual, 21st annual, one of the first in the nation, African American Children's Book Fair.

    Whereas, in 1926, noted historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week"; and

  • Whereas, the second week in February was chosen because of the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass; and

    Whereas, the first black history month celebration occurred at Kent State in February 1970, and in 1976, the federal government acknowledged the expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month; and

  • Whereas, during early American history, African Americans were not allowed to learn to read and have books; and

    Whereas, the importance of book fairs cannot be understated, and for twenty-one years the African American Children's Book Fair has enhanced multi-culturalism in our City utilizing the joy of reading as a tool; and

  • Whereas, Vanesse Lloyd Sgambati created the book fair because she believes books open up a world of opportunities for children, and after twenty-one years is one of the oldest and largest single day events for children's literacy in the City of Philadelphia and throughout the region;

    Whereas, one of the most important reasons to encourage reading in our children is that studies show that the more youth read, the more likely they are to make positive lifestyle decisions as they grow older; and

  • Whereas, strictly judging by attendance the fair is a tremendous success, as well over 4,500 people attended the fair in past years; and

    Whereas, rich or poor, no one leaves empty-handed as the books themselves are priced at a level where they are more affordable and posters, bookmarks, and raffle books are distributed free of charge to all attendees; and

  • Whereas, one of the esteemed attendees will be Renee Watson, who is the author of Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills, which was nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award, and What Momma Left Me, which debuted as ABC's New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction; and

    Whereas, one of Renee Watson's passions is using the arts to help youth cope with trauma and discuss social issues. Her first picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, was based on the poetry workshops she facilitated with young people in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams; and

  • Whereas, the fair is also lucky to host a terrific media partner, NBC 10 Philadelphia, represented by Kim Zachary and Monique Braxton, who have been instrumental in keeping the literary flames ablaze for our children in the City of Philadelphia through tireless contributions to the African American Children's Book Project; and

    Whereas, the 21st Annual African American Book Fair will be held free of charge on Saturday, February the 9th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the gymnasium of the Community College of Philadelphia located at 17th and Spring Garden Streets; now therefore be it

  • Resolved, by the Council of the City of Philadelphia, that we hereby honor the African American Children's Book Project on the occasion of the 21st Annual African American Children's Book Fair.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to representatives of the African American Children's Book Project, the author herself, who is with us this morning -- and a copy of the book is given to you, generosity of Renee Watson -- Kim Zachary and Monique Braxton, for their untiring support, hard work, and true grit efforts in the promotion of children's literacy, as evidence of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.

    Let's salute the African American Children's Book Project.

  • (Applause.)

  • Ms. Sgambati, would you please give your remarks.

  • Darrell, you roll those B's and M's off your tongue.

    At any rate, President Darrell Clarke, members of City Council and guests, and, of course, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who has supported from the beginning the African American Children's Book Project; in fact, before she was a City Council person, she was supporting our efforts.

    The book project has existed because of the support of the community, but there is a need, and there is even a greater need. I'm fortunate to have great sponsors like PECO, Health Partner, Comcast, and NBC 10.

    A book opens up a world of opportunities, and I'll briefly tell you this story, because I want the other members to know. I lived during the Cold War and I was in elementary school. Don't look at me and say that diva can't be that old. But at any rate, we used to go underneath our desk whenever we had these drills. I asked the teacher, Why are we doing this?

    She said, Well, the Russians are coming.

    I said, Who are the Russians?

    She said, Go to a library.

    I went to a library, and they said to me, Why do you want to take out a book on Russia?

    I said, I want to learn.

    Well, I read that book, and five years ago I was in Moscow, and as I toured around that square, all the people kept asking me, How do you know so much about my country? And I told them, I read it in a book. And this is what I hope to share with the kids here in the Philadelphia area, from preschool to young adult.

    The three people behind me who have been part of the success of this book fair, Kim Zachary, Monique Braxton of NBC 10. NBC 10 has been a sponsor, a financial sponsor, and they give away brand new free books. Those books you have will be some of the books we give to the children at the book fair. And Renee Watson, who is an award-winning author. So I'll pass the baton to them.

  • On behalf of NBC 10 and Comcast and NBC Universal, we are so humbled to receive this award. We cannot thank you enough to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and the rest of City Council. We're truly humbled.

    It can't go beyond saying that the real honoree in this entire thing has got to be Vanesse Lloyd Sgambati. For over 21 years, her hard work and resolve has given thousands of children in this region access to books, which is the true foundation of education. So our true thanks go to her.

  • Good morning, everyone.

  • (Good morning.)

  • We'd like to thank Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown as former Chair of the Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee. You've been someone who has been at the African American Book Fair every year since I have been in town. You've been inspiring the authors, the illustrators, children, and their parents who truly believe, as we do, that reading is fundamental to a child's academic achievement.

    In the more than a decade since I have participated, she's always been there, along with other members of City Council.

    I often share with students and adults that I am blessed to have a front-row seat to history. Sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's disturbing even to us to bring it into your home, but I can truly say that as my role as the reading ambassador, it brings great joy to just be there and watch it take place.

    I remember 11 years ago when I pulled up with my son in a stroller, it was blustery. Thousands of people were lined up just to get inside. Snowflakes were falling. Everyone was waiting for the traditional drum roll, which signals the commencement of the program. And, you know, we've only had to cancel this fair that falls on Black History Month once because of snow. Hopefully we won't have to do that Saturday.

    As you all know, the realization of Vanesse's vision is enjoyed by more than 4,000 people. They come from all across our viewing area, but now the fair is much more multi-cultural, because the books, books like people, that come from all walks of life and from the community that we serve.

    Comcast, NBC Universal, and NBC 10 are proud to place hundreds of books, free books, in the hands of children. I want to thank our new Vice President of News for continuing to be a part of this wonderful event, the African American Children's Book Fair. Councilperson Blondell Reynolds Brown has been a champion of the arts as well as menus, keeping all of our children and our families healthy, but I would be remiss if we did not thank all of you members of City Council. Thank you so, so much for agreeing to be here and present this resolution to us.

    I'm not going to sit down before I let you know that today I'm going to interview an artist or illustrator who decided after coming to the book fair several years ago to change her place of residence, move to Philadelphia, and become an artist right here in Philadelphia. She gave up a job, Councilman Jones, she gave up a job out west, moved to Philadelphia. She was an illustrator for Hallmark Cards, but she decided I want to move to Philadelphia and become an artist and illustrator. I'm interviewing her as a preview story. We're working on that for you, as we say, on NBC 10 news this evening. So keep watching.

    The next voice you're going to hear is Renee Watson, our featured author.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you. Good morning. Vanesse wants me to make sure that we thank Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. And I want to say thank you to everyone. This is such a humbling honor.

    I grew up learning about metagraphers, the Civil Rights Movement, watching documentaries like Eyes on the Prize. So to stand here and be in the shoes of a legacy that is huge and wide and big and expansive is a great honor.

    The book you have is about Florence Mills. She was the daughter of former slaves and ended up helping to usher in the Harlem Renaissance through her singing and dancing. She grew up in a teeny tiny place in Washington, DC, but she knew that her voice could do great big gigantic things, like break down the walls of racism, bring healing, and entertain. By the age of seven, she was traveling the world performing.

    In my work with young people as a writer-in-residence in public schools across the nation but especially in the South Bronx with organizations like DreamYard and Community Word Project, I encourage young people to use their voices to cultivate them to find out what they want to do in this world, to use their voice for something good. It's my hope that we all protect our words, that we use them wisely, that we use them as seeds, because our words can birth new things. Our words can speak life or death. So I ask us to be careful how we use our words when we're speaking about young people, when we're speaking about our inner cities, when we're speaking to young people, that we're telling them that you can be anything no matter where you come from, that your voice is powerful, that it can change the world, and like Florence, that our young people are capable of doing great big gigantic things.

    Thank you so much for this honor.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

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

    Thank you. Mr. Decker, would you please read the messages.

  • To the President and members of the Council of the City of Philadelphia, I am pleased to advise you that on February 6, 2013, I signed the following bills that were passed by Council at its session on January 24, 2013: Bill Nos. 120656-AA and 120918; and

    I am transmitting for the consideration of your honorable body a resolution approving the redevelopment contract of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for the redevelopment and urban renewal of a portion of the Models Cities Urban Renewal Area, identified by house numbers and street addresses as 1716 through 26 Folsom Street, 1730 through 50 Folsom Street, 703 through 05 North Eighteenth Street; and

    A resolution approving the redevelopment contract of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for the redevelopment and urban renewal of a portion of the Model Cities Urban Renewal Area, identified by house numbers and street addresses as 400 West Susquehanna Avenue (including 2152 North Fourth Street and 2159 North Leithgow Street), 417 West Susquehanna Avenue (including 2202 North Leithgow Street and 2203 North Lawrence Street), 2151 North Fourth Street and 2153 through 55 North Leithgow Street; and

    A resolution confirming the appointment of Reverend C. Kevin Gillespie as a member of the Board of Ethics, to serve in the term ending November 16, 2014; and

    An ordinance authorizing 39th and Sansom Streets Corporation trading as Cavanaugh's Leprechaun to construct, own and maintain an open-air sidewalk cafe at 119 South 39th Street; and

    An ordinance authorizing the plotting upon a portion of City Plan No. 271 of a right-of-way for sewer and drainage purposes extending from the westerly side of Front Street, north of Callowhill Street, westwardly to the Delaware Expressway, all under certain terms and conditions.

  • Thank you, Mr. Decker. Do you have any other communications in your possession?

  • I have none, Mr. President.

  • Thank you so much.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one resolution on my behalf and on behalf of Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez. Because it's asking Council to take a position on a national issue, we're going to ask that the vote be held next week. And I also have one bill. Thank you, Mr. President.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 20-1000 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Political Contributions and Expenditures," by providing for contribution limits for incumbents, and making technical changes.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And a non-privileged resolution urging the 113th Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform as outlined in this resolution that keeps families together, upholds our values as a nation, promotes economic growth, and creates a fair immigration system guided by respect for the human rights of all persons.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Today I have one bill and two resolutions that we'd like to be recognized on.

  • Thank you. Thank you, Councilwoman.

  • An ordinance authorizing 39th and Sansom Streets Corporation trading as Cavanaugh's Leprechaun to construct, own and maintain an open-air sidewalk cafe at 119 South 39th Street.

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

  • And a privileged resolution recognizing Mr. Nelson Mandela Myers for his acts of kindness and community involvement.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. We'd like to ask for a suspension of the rules since it was circulated late, not within the 24 hours, so that it may be considered on today's Calendar.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you. It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor for suspension of the rules to allow reading today.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. There will be a suspension. That will be on today's Final Passage Calendar.

  • And a privileged resolution recognizing the State House and State Senate's efforts in investigating the potential misuse of religion to commit crimes particularly in the case of Nai'lla Robinson, who was abducted from her Bryant School class room.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. We'd like to rise to ask for a suspension of the rules so that may be considered today.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. It shall be on today's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. On your behalf, I offer one resolution.

  • A non-privileged resolution approving the redevelopment contract of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for the redevelopment and urban renewal of a portion of the Model Cities Urban Renewal Area, identified by house numbers and street addresses as 1716 through 26 Folsom Street, 1730 through 50 Folsom Street and 703 through 05 North Eighteenth Street.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Henon.

  • Thank you, Council President. Today I offer one privileged resolution co-introduced by colleagues Councilman O'Brien, Councilwoman Bass, Councilman Squilla, Councilman Johnson, Councilman Oh, and Councilman O'Neill.

  • A privileged resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ to collect the delinquent real estate taxes owed the City and School District by owner-occupants, the effectiveness or shortcomings of existing and proposed procedures, and the additional measures and resources required to improve the system for collecting delinquent real estate taxes owed by owner-occupants.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Mr. President, I offer one privileged resolution.

  • A privileged resolution honoring Delta Sigma Theta on its 100th Anniversary.

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

    The Chair recognizes --

  • Mr. President, that was co-sponsored by Councilwoman Brown.

  • Thank you. So noted.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have one bill and one resolution. The resolution is sponsored by Councilman Bobby Henon, Councilman David Oh, Councilman Denny O'Brien, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, and Councilman Mark Squilla.

  • Also known as the Serious Six, right?

  • An ordinance to amend the Philadelphia Zoning Maps by changing the zoning designations of certain areas of land located within an area bounded by Mifflin Street, Broad Street, McKean Street and 15th Street.

  • That will be placed on next week's Final Passage Calendar -- that will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And a privileged resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings to examine the City's efforts to collect delinquent real estate taxes owed by owners of residential investment properties and the additional measures and resources required to reduce real estate tax delinquency.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have two resolutions.

  • 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 Seventh, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Thirty-Seventh, and Forty-Third Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

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

  • And a non-privileged resolution approving the redevelopment contract of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for the redevelopment and urban renewal of a portion of the Model Cities Urban Renewal Area, identified by house numbers and street addresses as 400 West Susquehanna Avenue (including 2152 North Fourth Street and 2159 North Leithgow Street), 417 West Susquehanna Avenue (including 2202 North Leithgow Street and 2203 North Lawrence Street), 2151 North Fourth Street and 2153 through 55 North Leithgow Street.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Green.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I introduce two bills co-sponsored by Councilman Kenney.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 19-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Real Estate Taxes," and Chapter 19-1800 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "School Tax Authorization," by eliminating the homestead exclusion and making conforming changes.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Chapter 20-1000 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Political Contributions and Expenditures," by further providing for disclosure of contributions and expenditures.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Brien.

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

  • A privileged resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to investigate and hold public hearings reviewing the system utilized by the City of Philadelphia to collect delinquent real estate taxes, the effectiveness and shortcomings of the existing system, and the new methods and resources proposed by the Administration to increase the collection of delinquent real estate taxes.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Goode.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown.

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

  • A non-privileged resolution supporting House Bill 34, which requires the design, construction, and renovation of certain state-owned or state-leased buildings to comply with specified energy and environmental building standards, and providing for the powers and duties of the Department of General Services.

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

  • That resolution will be on today's -- it requires a suspension, Councilwoman.

  • Therefore, I move for the adoption, Mr. President.

  • We're going to require a suspension because it's an external resolution. So just ask for a suspension of the rules.

  • Very well. I then ask for a suspension of the rules.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Mr. President, one bill, two privileged resolutions on your behalf.

  • Non-privileged on your behalf.

  • An ordinance authorizing the plotting upon a portion of City Plan No. 271 of a right-of-way for sewer and drainage purposes extending from the westerly side of Front Street, north of Callowhill Street, westwardly to the Delaware Expressway.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And a resolution approving the appointment of Aronda Smith to the Veterans' Advisory Commission.

  • That resolution will be referred to committee.

  • And a resolution confirming the appointment of Reverend C. Kevin Gillespie as a member of the Board of Ethics, to serve in the term ending November 16, 2014.

  • That resolution will also be referred to committee. Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one resolution co-sponsored by Councilmembers Henon, Oh, O'Brien, Bass, and Johnson.

  • A privileged resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ to collect delinquent commercial real estate taxes owed the City and School District, the effectiveness or shortcomings of existing and proposed procedures, and the additional measures and resources required to improve the system for collecting delinquent real estate taxes.

  • That resolution will be referred -- that will be on today's Final Passage Calendar. I'm seeing a theme developing here from the Serious Six today. It's about getting the money. I'm on board.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have one privileged resolution and it's co-sponsored by Councilman Henon, Johnson, Squilla, Oh, and O'Brien.

  • A privileged resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on vacant, tax delinquent properties in the City, the impact of such properties on the City, and the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ to collect delinquent real estate taxes from such properties and the efficacy of those procedures.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have four resolutions, one privileged, three non-privileged, one co-sponsored by my freshmen colleagues.

  • Serious Six. Thank you, sir.

  • A privileged resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ based on accepted best practices to collect delinquent real estate taxes owed the City and School District of Philadelphia.

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

  • And a privileged resolution authorizing Council's Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy to hold hearings to investigate the economic and environmental impact of converting Philadelphia's fleet vehicles to run on compressed natural gas and other alternative fuels.

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

  • And a privileged resolution authorizing Council's Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy to hold hearings to investigate the feasibility, benefits, and costs to establishing a 24-hour arts and innovation section for the City of Philadelphia.

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

  • And a non-privileged resolution encouraging the United States Navy to commission the USS Somerset (LPD-25) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Councilman, you want that on today's Final Passage Calendar?

  • Yes. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

  • Thank you. I don't think we need a suspension on this one. Do we need a suspension, Mr. Decker?

  • Councilman, we do need a suspension of the rules.

  • Mr. President, I move for a suspension of the rules to place that on today's Final Passage Calendar.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you. It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

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

  • Thank you very much.

    The next order of business is reports from committees.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Green for a report from the Committee on Finance.

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Mr. Decker, will you 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. 120109, entitled "An ordinance amending Title 21 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled 'Miscellaneous,' by requiring the Finance Director to provide to Council, by the time of the submission of the Mayor's proposed annual operating budget, program-based budgeting detail that identifies both the cost of performing specific functions funded by appropriations made by the City as well as the effectiveness of such functions, following procedures to be adopted by the Finance Director," 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 Green.

  • I move the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bill No. 120109.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you. It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended to permit first reading this day of Bill No. 120109.

    All those in favor say aye.

  • (No response.)

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

    The next order of business is consideration of the Calendar. I note that the bill just reported from committee with suspension of the rules has been deemed to have had a first reading. This will be placed on the Second Reading on our Final Passage Calendar for the next session of Council.

    As there are no additional bills on the First Reading Calendar, the Chair now recognizes Councilman Jones for the purpose of calling up bills and resolutions on the Final Passage today.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The following resolutions and bills are being called up for Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar today: Nos. 130070, 130074, 120958, and 121033. All other resolutions and bills are being held.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Before considering these bills and resolutions, I would just like to say we will have public comment. Public comment will go as follows:

    There will be a podium placed in the middle of the Chambers. You will have three minutes to speak. We ask that you limit your speech to bills and resolutions that are on the Final Passage Calendar.

    I understand that there is maybe one, conceivably two people here to speak on something that was just introduced today. So we're going to bend the rules a little bit at the request of one of my colleagues to allow them to speak on that today, but we will be in strict conformance with the law next week. So just to let everybody know, please don't come in next week and attempt to do that.

    Mr. Decker, will you please call the names of the individuals.

  • Chester Skaziak, commenting on 120340-AAA.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • May I speak on that, Council President Clarke?

  • I'm permitted to speak on 120340?

  • Yeah. We're going to overlook the rules today.

  • Thank you very much.

  • We don't want to make this a habit.

  • No.

    My comments are for those who are taking my text obviously, I want you to know that, and not the members of Council.

  • Good morning, Council President Clarke and members of Council. My name is Chester Skaziak, Philadelphia taxpayer.

    In the past, I've been asked who I represent or what group affiliation. For this reason, let me add today I'm a Philadelphian Saying Stop Stealing Tax Dollars, or PSSSTD, and in the future I remain "PSSSTD" if nothing changes.

    Today I shall attempt to represent those who are PSSSTD who are unable to attend. There are many others who identify with being PSSSTD. Who are they? They're your neighbors. They're everywhere. I say leave these Chambers, go out on the street, in the coffee shops, the malls, outside churches after Sunday services. They are tired of being ripped off. They're PSSSTD, but can't be here.

    I sent you's all photos of what I identified.

    As for this bill, there are no provisions for those of us that have resided in the same house for 30 years. What of my neighbors. I'm 67 years old and I'm the kid on the block. My real estate taxes were 6 percent of my pension in 2006. Today my taxes are 8 percent of my pension. What of my neighbors, some who are over 80 years of age. Are there provisions in this legislation for them? What do you have to say to them? It's only a temporary tax? Will your actions have an effect on their health?

    Section 19-3902, Definition, Item 2, Principal Residence - the dwelling place of a person, yadda, yadda, yadda. For the purpose of this chapter, the term may also include a building with a maximum of one commercial establishment and a maximum of three residential units, of which one resident unit must be the principal resident of the owner-occupant. Is this your idea of a real estate tax exemption program?

    Are you to say that they will get a tax break? If so, let me remind you I'm PSSSTD.

    Item 3, Owner, (b), an equitable owner, defined as a person who has inherited an interest in the property from the deceased owner of record; a person who was entered into an installment land contract to purchase the property from the owner of record; a person who was the owner of record before a fraudulent conveyance of the property occurred; or a person who can demonstrate some other ownership interest in the property. Can anyone in this room justify that last definition?

    What this means to me is someone who can defraud the taxpayers.

    I have to go back in history. I told this Council that Mantua Resolution 120720 was flawed. If I hadn't discovered the issue with Montessori Genesis II, would the taxpayers have purchased two properties then and perhaps the other 12 properties that were rightfully theirs? Could the cost have been a half a million dollars? The gentlemen Herb and Ed over at the PRA have said it was their intention to take back those properties. Yeah, right. Ten years Montessori had those properties. I say to them they were taken back because I uncovered the improprieties. Why? Because I am totally PSSSTD.

    Oh, by the way, I started another chapter. More issues with the PRA. I discovered them giving properties to a tax delinquent owing $6,000.

    Thank you very much. Have a nice day. And Councilman President Clarke, I thank you for allowing me to speak here today.

  • Thank you, sir. Thank you for your testimony.

  • Hiro Nishikawa, commenting on immigration reform resolution introduced by Councilman Kenney today.

  • (Witness approached podium.)

  • Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Councilman James Kenney and Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, for putting forth this important resolution.

    I come to speak in support as a native Californian whose hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers, just lost the Super Bowl. I come also as a third-generation American of Japanese ancestry, and, thirdly, I come as a worker and dweller in this Philadelphia region for the last 25 years.

    As a scientist who has crunched numbers all his life, the census trends of the City of Philadelphia are really amazing to study. In 1950, it hit a peak of 2.07 million. It started to decline in 1970 and kept on going down to 1.5 million in 2000. Finally, after 40 years of decline, there was an uptick in 2010 to 1.526 million, about a 0.6 percent increase. Amazing. What was that due to? Immigrants, new residents in the City of Brotherly Love.

    More numbers. Do you know that ever since 1970s America's fertility rate is only about 1.93? Which is below the replacement rate of 2.1 babies per mother. This has profound impacts and negative implication on Social Security and economic well-being of senior citizens in the future. Not enough workers to support retired persons.

    In Japan where the birth rate decline has already come somewhat earlier, the country has already experienced decline in economic productivity rates. Due to immigration activity, America is much better off. New adult workers and higher birth rates by immigrants are offsetting the decline seen in other well-off countries.

    The time is now. The declining birth rate is spreading to many other countries as their local economies get better. Studies indicate that most people want to stay in their own countries for good social reasons, especially if the prevailing conditions within their countries are getting better economically.

    Thus, the immigration pressures will decline in time as the global economy improves. It is America's chance now to assure a strong future by welcoming immigrants into its fold and to avoid the doom facing Germany, Japan, and many European countries in the coming decades. We need to fix this immigration problem now, and we need to keep families together.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for your testimony.

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

  • Thank you, sir.

    At this time, we'll now consider bills and resolutions on the Final Passage Calendar.

    Mr. Decker, can you please read the title of Resolution 130070.

  • 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 Twenty-Eighth, Twenty-Ninth, and Thirty-Second Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. 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 130070 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, can you please read the title of Resolution 130074.

  • 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 Eighteenth and Nineteenth Wards of the City of Philadelphia.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • Thank you. I move for the adoption.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. Resolution 130074 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, please read the title of 120958.

  • An ordinance to amend the Philadelphia Zoning Maps by changing the zoning designations of certain areas of land located within an area bounded by Allegheny Avenue, American Street, Lippincott Street, 2nd Street, a railroad right-of-way, and 5th Street.

  • 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.

  • (No response.)

  • 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 having voted in the affirmative, the bill passes.

    Mr. Decker, will you please read the title of Bill No. 121033.

  • An ordinance to amend the Philadelphia Zoning Maps by changing the zoning designations of certain areas of land located within an area bounded by Grant Avenue, Lavender Street, Primrose Road, Holyoke Road, and Academy Road.

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

    Mr. Decker, please call the roll.

  • Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Councilman Greenlee.

  • Councilman Johnson.

  • Councilman O'Brien.

  • Councilman O'Neill.

  • Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez.

  • Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

  • Councilman Squilla.

  • Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Council President Clarke.

  • Aye.

    The ayes are 17; the nays are zero.

    Councilman O'Brien, how would you like to be recorded on 120958?

  • I'd like to be recorded in the affirmative. Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you.

    Please reflect that that vote is 17;0. Thank you.

    Mr. Decker, do you have any additional resolutions?

  • A resolution recognizing Mr. Nelson Mandela Myers for his acts of kindness and community involvement, introduced by Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. In addition to asking for its adoption, I note that Councilman Jones is co-sponsor.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution recognizing the State House and State Senate's efforts in investigating the potential misuse of religion to commit crimes particularly in the case of Nai'lla Robinson, who was abducted from her Bryant School class room, introduced by Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I also note again that Councilman Jones is co-sponsor. I move for its adoption.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ to collect the delinquent real estate taxes owed the City and School District by owner-occupants, introduced by Councilman Henon.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Henon.

  • I move for the adoption, Mr. President.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution honoring Delta Sigma Theta on its 100th Anniversary, introduced by Councilwoman Tasco.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • I move for the adoption of the resolution.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings to examine the City's efforts to collect delinquent real estate taxes owed by owners of residential investment properties and the additional measures and resources required to reduce real estate tax delinquency, introduced by Councilman Johnson.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to investigate and hold public hearings reviewing the system utilized by the City of Philadelphia to collect delinquent real estate taxes, the effectiveness and shortcomings of the existing system, and the new methods and resources proposed by the Administration to increase the collection of delinquent real estate taxes, introduced by Councilman O'Brien.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Brien for a motion.

  • 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 supporting House Bill 34, which requires the design, construction, and renovation of certain state-owned or state-leased buildings to comply with specified energy and environmental building standards, and providing for the powers and duties of the Department of General Services, introduced by Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown for a motion.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ to collect delinquent commercial real estate taxes owed the City of Philadelphia and School District, the effectiveness or shortcomings of the existing proposed procedures, and the additional measures and resources required to improve the system for collecting delinquent real estate taxes, introduced by Councilman Squilla.

  • 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.)

  • That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on vacant, tax delinquent properties in the City, the impact of such properties on the City, and the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ to collect delinquent real estate taxes from such properties and the efficacy of those procedures, introduced by Councilwoman Bass.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing City Council's Committee of the Whole to hold public hearings on the procedures that the City currently employs and proposes to employ based on accepted best practices to collect the delinquent real estate taxes owed the City and School District of Philadelphia, introduced by Councilman Oh.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh for a motion.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing Council's Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy to hold hearings to investigate the economic and environmental impact of converting Philadelphia's fleet vehicles to run on compressed natural gas and other alternative fuels, introduced by Councilman Oh.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • 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. That resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution authorizing Council's Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy to hold hearings to investigate the feasibility, benefits, and costs to establishing a 24-hour arts and innovation section for the City of Philadelphia, introduced by Councilman Oh.

  • The Chair again recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • 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. That resolution is also adopted.

  • And a resolution encouraging the United States Navy to commission the USS Somerset (LPD-25) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, introduced by Councilman Oh.

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

  • (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 so much.

    Councilman Kenney.

  • I'm just getting in line.

  • Now you get me out of line now.

  • I understand. You have to hit that button quite quickly. You're first.

    Are there any speeches on the part of the minority?

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you very much, Mr. President. The issue of the overwhelming tax delinquency in Philadelphia is not new, but as a body of freshmen Councilmembers, we began talking about this last year in terms of addressing this serious issue in a meaningful way. Now going into this budget cycle where we will be asked to come up with more money for our schools and public services, it is not fair that not everyone is paying their taxes.

    A lax process for collecting taxes has only perpetuated the problem, and its ripple effect reaches every neighborhood in our city, diminishing and causing less funding for these critical services. Every citizen organization in the City utilizes the services that taxes pay for, and the fact that a half billion dollars is owed to the City is very disheartening.

    Through our bipartisan collaboration, we are eager to learn of the process that the Administration is moving forward on in terms of collecting taxes, and we will seek the facts and understanding of this comprehensive plan so that we can collect more monies more efficiently for the City of Philadelphia.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • We're ready for speeches on the majority?

  • Thank you. Mr. President, I have some exciting news, at least exciting for me after all these years. On Monday, the Memorial Committee for the O.V. Catto statue committee will be meeting to review finally works of artists that have been solicited internationally and across the country, and the flow of contributions and other financial needs are really starting to come together, and we're actually going to be able to see something on paper or in mold that we can -- that the jury that's been assembled of prominent artists and others will make a decision on, hopefully be ready for this appropriate memorial for O.V. Catto some time as the Dilworth Plaza begins to take its shape. So after all these years, it's finally -- and especially during Black History Month, I think it was appropriate to talk about the status of that.

    In addition, relative to Black History Month, the Library Company of Philadelphia -- and I don't know if anyone has ever been there or not, but I would urge you to get there. It is a treasure trove of unbelievable documents that are very, very exciting to the history of this country. And they're doing a retrospective on the African American founders of this country back into the revolutionary time. It is very, very interesting to take a look at some of the names and understand some of the contributions and some of the careers that people have. Of course, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones we hear about historically, but people like James Forten, who was one of the most richest men in America, who his company made almost every sail for every ship that left any harbor in the East Coast.

    And also what was very interesting if you look at the website, there is a gentleman on there who basically started American catering. He was the first caterer to bring food to weddings or to funerals or to other events, and as I scrolled down the website, the gentleman passed in 1837, but his picture is there on the website, and his name is Robert Bogle. It is the exact replica of the Robert Bogle that we know today, and I believe it has to be a past ancestor of Mr. Bogle. But I raise it because we all know him, and if you look at the picture, you can't deny that it's a relative of his, perhaps a great-great-great grandfather or something, but to understand that people like this like Mr. Bogle that actually walk amongst us today that have a reach back as far as the turn of the 1800s and before.

    So I would urge everyone to check out the website and take a visit to the Library Company of Philadelphia. You'll be astounded what kind of things they have there that represent our history and all of our contributions to it.

    So thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman -- well, let me go back. Now we have a request from the -- let me just go in order. Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I just want to commend my colleague Councilman Kenney for recognizing that, but I want to give him one fact that he omitted. That is the same Robert Bogle. He lives forever. It is the absolute same one, so I just want you to know that. That's the same Robert Bogle.

  • So I just want to thank a gentleman who popped in our Chambers and is across the hall about to do a press conference, and I speak of Congressman Brady. He has somehow got an S on his chest that doesn't necessarily stand for Superman, but it does stand for save a whole lot of Philadelphia traditions and events.

    Once again, he has come in and helped a former coalition of entrepreneurs, elected officials, community advocates for Roxborough, Manayunk, and East Falls, and has managed to pull out of the jaws of defeat a salvation for this year's bike race. We want to recognize him and thank him for that. I also want to recognize my colleagues in this Chamber that stepped up to the plate to be a part of that coalition: Councilman O'Brien, Councilman Squilla, Councilman Kenney, also recognizing Senator Hughes and Senator Williams, who rose to the occasion to help out a Philadelphia tradition.

    I think this type of leadership, this type of cooperation intergovernmental, which, Mr. President, you have helped foster, is a beginning of a new type of cooperation that I hope to see for a great many public policy issues.

    So, once again, thank you all for a grateful -- from a grateful 4th District.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. And I just want to, as the Chair of Parks and Recreation, just want to echo that sentiment, that it's a wonderful thing to make sure that that race continues, because it is a Philadelphia tradition and it's so very important.

    But I just wanted to piggyback off of Councilman Oh's statements regarding tax fairness and the Tax Fairness Initiative. And while it's no secret that regarding real estate taxes Philadelphia has a massive delinquency problem. As we know, in 2010 PICA found that Philadelphia ranked 24th out of 25 cities in real estate tax collections. The problem varies in terms of the estimate of how much is uncollected and what is available for collection, somewhere between $248 million and $518 million that could go into supporting our police, our firefighters, our schools. These taxes are critically important.

    The fact is, it is simply unfair that while most people pay their property taxes, there are still some who do not. Accordingly, I want to join today with all of my fellow freshmen Councilmembers, Councilmembers Henon, Johnson, Oh, O'Brien, and Squilla, in introducing the Taxpayer Fairness Initiative. We're launching this initiative to focus the collective efforts of the six newest members of City Council around the issue of real estate tax delinquency. It's a partnership between all of our offices. We're going to combine our time, our resources, and our energy to tackle what we believe is one of the most serious problems facing Philadelphia today.

    We intend to investigate this problem. We introduced today six resolutions authorizing the Committee of the Whole to hold a series of hearings on the issue of real estate tax delinquency. The hearings will focus on both big-picture issues and specific topics relevant to the City's tax delinquency problem. We're going to engage citizens. We're going to engage our constituents by hosting public meetings, inviting experts to answer questions about tax delinquency, providing information about how to purchase vacant land parcels, and also offering a form for citizens to share their feelings about the best uses for vacant land in their neighborhoods. We're going to connect taxpayers to the resources they need to pay their taxes.

    Not paying is not an option, because it's just not fair. However, once in a while, we all need a little help. Our offices will work hard to be advocates for any taxpayer who needs help understanding the system and getting on a payment arrangement plan. Assistance is available, and our offices can and will help.

    We're going to do a series of briefings in partnership with the Fels Institute and the Pew Charitable Trusts and hosting policy briefings on related topics regarding tax delinquency. Also, we plan on launching a website. The website will be www.taxpayerfairness.com, and we want to encourage citizens to visit the website or contact any of our offices with real estate tax delinquency questions.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Thank you. I say this with all honesty and not to be frivolous or demeaning. I appreciate the introduction of all of those resolutions calling for the hearings on delinquent taxes. I suggest that some of the witnesses, expert witnesses, be the former mayors, Goode, Rendell, Street, and the current Mayor, to discuss their efforts to address this issue.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you. That would be a first. We will reach out, Councilwoman.

  • And maybe those people who want to be mayor to have that discussion.

  • Councilwoman, I'm sure that will happen. Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes -- I'm going to go out of order because the republican/majority thing at this particular time doesn't really work.

    Councilman O'Brien.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to echo the sentiments of the Majority Leader, Curtis Jones, in recognizing the Herculean efforts of Congressman Brady and saving the race. I would also like to congratulate and applaud Councilwoman Bass for her articulation of our efforts in the tax delinquency discussion, but I really want to be recognized to echo Councilman Kenney's sentiments on the Library Company of Philadelphia. I am a stockholder of the Library Company of Philadelphia. It was organized by Ben Franklin to raise money to provide books, and then when the British came, we had to move those books to York County and then to Harrisburg.

    But I had the privilege of going over and visiting that wonderful institution, and I held in my hands the very books that Thomas Jefferson used in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. And I will admit that he wrote in the margins in those books in his own hand, and I have to tell you that it was a moment that I will not soon forget. The work that our forefathers did is something that in these challenging times we should look back at what their intent was and how they suffered and how they sacrificed to bring those documents forward and give us this form of government that is unique and that we're proud of as Americans.

    But I will echo Councilman Kenney's sentiments and encourage everyone to go over and enjoy the richnesses that exist in the Library Company of Philadelphia.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I want to also echo the sentiments of my freshmen colleagues regarding the Tax Fairness Initiative that we will be working on as it relates to collecting delinquent taxes in the City of Philadelphia. I think the conversation is fitting as we address the issue of AVI. I recently participated in a town hall meeting in my district to take a look at how do we still provide a level of relief for not those who have lived in their house for ten years or more, but those who fall in between. And I think it's very important as a part of this conversation that we take a look at some type of relief measures, rather it's from the individuals who are in Harrisburg who will give us the opportunity to make some tough decisions to provide people with relief, but also really paying attention to those who will be significantly impacted that does not lie within the realm of getting a break based upon their income.

    I'm a strong advocate of fairness from the perspective that even though you live in the area where your house has significantly, significantly appreciated in value but you have still been paying your taxes, I still believe you should pay, but at the same time, it should be fair in that process. So I want to make sure that that's on the table when you're looking at rather it may be a cap, rather it may be deferments, rather it be installment payments. But as I read this morning, going from $1,000 to $5,000 in one year I think is pretty tough on anybody. It doesn't mean you shouldn't have to pay, but I want to make sure we look at that as a part of this process.

    So I look forward to the discussion, because obviously parts of Graduate Hospital in my district will be significantly impacted, some parts of Center City, and I go from rather it be Point Breeze will probably get some increases, but Eastwick will probably get a break. We want to make sure it's a fair balance across the board. So I look forward to the discussion.

    Thank you, Council President.

  • Thank you. Thank you, Councilman.

    There being no other speeches, the Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown for a motion to adjourn.

  • Yes, Mr. President. I move that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, February 14th -- how about that -- 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, February 14th, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • Council is adjourned.

    Thank you.

  • (Stated Meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.)