Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

  • Good morning, everyone.

  • (Good morning.)

  • We have established a quorum. I'd ask all guests and visitors to please take their seat behind the rail and members to take their seats. Thank you very much.

    To give our invocation this morning, the Chair recognizes the Reverend Arlington Medley, Pastor of Victory Community Church. He is here today as the guest of Councilman Wilson Goode.

    I would ask all members and guests to please rise.

  • (Members and guests rise.)

  • (Good morning.)

  • There is a word from Scripture that I think provides an adequate preface to this wonderful gathering in time of sharing and hard work, but first, it goes along with the illustration that I think many people have heard that is apt and also goes this morning.

    There was a young man who was trying to get a job as a signalman at an old railroad, and as he had finally went through a whole process, his final, final, final task was to pass with the inspector. He went up to the signal box, and the inspector was there with his arms folded, with a look that said he did not want this young man to get the job.

    He began to ask the young man questions. He said, What would you do if you saw that there were two trains that were running on the same track about to crash into each other?

    He said, I would use the lever and change one train to the other track.

    He said, What if you found that the lever was broken?

    He said, I would run down and use the manual lever.

    He said, What if lightning had struck and that lever was also broken?

    He said, I'd come back to the signal box and I'd call the other signal box by way of phone.

    He said, What if the phone was busy and you couldn't get through?

    He said, I would use my cell phone.

    He said, What if your cell phone couldn't reach the signal box?

    He said, Then I'd get my Uncle Leo.

    He said, Why would you get your Uncle Leo?

    He says, Because Uncle Leo has never seen a train crash before.

    Some people believe that there are situations where there's no way out, where there are things that are going to happen and we can't do anything about it. But this morning there is a voice that comes to us from Scripture that says there is no temptation taken you, no situation, no challenge that has taken but is common to man, which means everybody is going through something, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that which you are able, meaning he won't put more on you than you can handle, but with the temptation, make a way of escape that you'll be able to bear it. That means with every challenge, there still is a real solution.

    Let's bow and look to the Lord.

    Dearest God, we thank you again for life. We thank you again for health. We thank you again that you are here with us, that in every situation, wherever two or three have gathered, you promised to be right there through your son.

    So, Lord, may we come to know the grace which is always sufficient. May we come to know your strength which is made perfect in our weakness. May we come to know that you are always God by yourself, and one plus God is always a majority.

    We thank you again for this time, for it's in your son's name we pray. Let everyone say amen.

  • Thank you for those inspiring words, Pastor.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • The next order of business is the approval of the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, February 28th, 2013.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, February 28th, 2013 be approved.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the Journal of the meeting of Thursday, February 28, 2013 be 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. There are no requests for leaves of absence on the part of the democrats.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    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.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Kenney.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Again, thank you very much for your accommodation of our paying homage to our Irish culture here. We were supposed to do everything next week at the 14th, but the Mayor's budget message has knocked that off, so I appreciate your accommodation again in allowing us to provide a little bit -- or a lot of Irish culture in music today.

    We have friends of ours from New Jersey who have come here to perform for us. It's Haley, Dylan, and Newt Richardson. Haley is 10 years old and she's a four-time Mid-Atlantic Regional Irish Fiddle Champion, and in August, she tied for first at the All Ireland Competition in Cavan, Ireland in under 12 solo fiddle.

    Her brother Dylan is 15. He plays guitar and has competed in Ireland, and her brother Newt is playing bodhran and beatbox. He's 17. And they would like to do a little performance for us at your -- if you would so allow.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Let me recognize the audience first.

    First of all, I just want to thank everyone for coming here today. We hope that your stay here today and the experience that you have is a pleasurable one, and we hope that you come back again as a result of that.

    Councilman, would you like to do that now?

  • Yes, Mr. President. Thank you.

  • And, Councilman, I understood early on in my tenure that it is my job to accommodate my members.

  • Thank you very much. You do it well, sir. Thank you.

  • (Musical performance.)

  • Thank you. That was awesome.

    At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilman Henon, who will present a resolution honoring the 10th Anniversary of The Irish Memorial. Would Kathleen Sullivan and those accompanying her please join the Councilman at the podium.

    And joining Councilman Henon we have Councilman O'Brien and I believe Councilman Kenney also and also Councilman Squilla.

  • Well, good morning, everybody. And that was a beautiful presentation. It kind of absolutely makes you proud of the children and the folks involved at an early age into our heritage and culture.

    So today we honor the 10-year Anniversary of The Irish Memorial.

    The Irish Memorial tells us a story about our history. It tells us a story about the Irish people in Philadelphia and beyond. Our story is one of struggle and one of struggles that came with challenges. It is a story of an immigrant community that arrived here under dire circumstances. The great hunger in Ireland was real. Our family members had to flee their homes to survive.

    The Irish Memorial is important because it encourages us to remember those who did not make it. Over one million people didn't survive. And for those who did make it, they arrived with nothing, and yet they worked hard to raise their families, and yet they established communities and churches right here in Philadelphia in the Irish community, which they built.

    The Irish Memorial is about keeping our story alive so that we could tell our story to our grandchildren and of all the generations to come. A lot of people came together to make this Memorial a reality, and many more continue to work hard to keep our story alive. People like Jim Coyne, who shepherded this project for two decades, all of the original Board members, and for those Memorial Angels, as they are so called -- and there are many, such as John Dougherty, Terri O'Connell, Tom O'Malley, Bob Gessler, and our own Mary Frances Fogg, and the current Board members and the current President, Kathleen Sullivan.

    For those who haven't heard the story yet and haven't seen the Memorial yet, it's at 2nd and Chestnut, and I encourage you to visit and to remember the story and the struggle of the Irish community.

    The 10-year Anniversary of The Irish Memorial.

    Whereas, a thirteen year campaign was launched in 1990 to promote, fund and construct The Irish Memorial to the victims and survivors of one of the most catastrophic events in the world's history. The project was completed and dedicated on October 25th, 2003; and

  • Whereas, The Irish Memorial is inspired by more than 44 million Americans who claim Irish heritage. The Memorial is made possible by the dedicated group of individuals and organizations from the public and private sector; and

    Whereas, The Irish Memorial is also dedicated in the memory of more than one million men, women and children who perished during the year 1845 to 1850 and to the memory of millions of Irish immigrants who found the freedom, liberty and prosperity here in the United States that was denied to their ancestors in Ireland; and

  • Whereas, the monument itself includes 35 life-sized figures. The bronze work measures a spectacular 30 feet long and 12 feet wide and 12 feet high. The Memorial depicts not only the cruel starvation which claimed one million Irish lives in five years but also the harrowing journey to America taken by a million more, and the indomitable spirit of those who arrived safely and resolved to face the challenges of life in the new world;

    Whereas, standing prominently at Front and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia, The Irish Memorial adds to the cultural and historical richness of Philadelphia's Historic District because of its proximity to nearby Independence National Historic Park and Penn's Landing;

  • Whereas, though it has special meaning for millions of Americans of Irish descent, it touches everyone who approaches it regardless of their ancestry. Besides presenting an important chapter in history in a moving and effective way, the Memorial is a significant addition to Philadelphia's great collection of public art and one of the few pieces created by a major female artist. It serves as both a national attraction and a place for peaceful contemplation; now therefore

  • Resolved, by the body of the City Council of Philadelphia, that we hereby honor and recognize the 10th Anniversary of The Irish Memorial.

    Resolved further, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to The Irish Memorial Board of Directors as further evidence of the sincere respect and admiration of this legislative body.

    Congratulations.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Ms. Sullivan for remarks.

  • Thank you first to President Clarke for inviting us here today, and thank you all for listening to a short story of the Irish history. I'd also like to thank Councilman O'Brien, Squilla, Councilman Kenney and also Councilman Henon for introducing this, and a special thanks also to Mary Frances Fogg for getting the wheels started.

    There were a lot of people that were thanked today. I'd also like to do a special recognition to Bob Gessler, who is the President of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which is this Saturday, March 10th -- Sunday. Sorry. I would have showed up a day early. Maybe I planned it that way.

    And also I'd like to thank Joe March, who is our former Managing Director, who helped us navigate the waters on the whole construction and land in getting the dedication of The Irish Memorial.

    I'd also like to introduce Jim Coyne -- well, first of all, The Irish Memorial dedication is the 10th Anniversary, and that will take place on March 17th, the actual date -- in fact, I understand we moved the parade so we could have the 10th Anniversary there at Front and Chestnut. So if any of you haven't seen it, you don't have to be Irish. It's a beautiful work of public art, which we dedicated back to the City and we maintain -- we dedicated it back, but didn't put the burden on the City to maintain it. So we have fundraisers and there's a lot that goes into that, lighting, landscaping, cleaning, waxing. So it's a continuous journey, I guess, to try to get this maintained.

    So please visit it. It resonates with not only Irish people but all immigrant populations. So you don't have -- if you can't make it on the 17th, try to get down there any day of the year at Front and Chestnut.

    I don't want to go on and on, President Clarke, but if you would just indulge us, I would like to introduce the gentleman who was responsible for getting this whole project started, our statesman, our historian, our former President, Jim Coyne.

    Thank you.

  • (Applause.)

  • I would just like to thank everybody for the proclamation and all of the descriptive stories that were told about it. There was one point, however, that is a major point and the main reason why we started this Memorial in the first place, and that's to dispel the myth of a potato famine. There was no famine in Ireland. Only one crop failed, and that was the potato crop. Ireland's governors or rulers were exporting food while over a million people starved to death.

    So don't let anybody ever tell you that there's a potato famine. The potato crop failed. The people starved because the people that were governing Ireland exported food and let the people starve.

    Thanks very much.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you.

    Council will be at ease.

  • (Council at ease.)

  • Thank you.

    At this time, the Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown, who will present a resolution celebrating 10 years of United Way's Initiative. Would Ms. Jill Michael and those accompanying her please join the Councilwoman at the podium.

    And joining Councilwoman Brown is Councilwoman Tasco, Councilwoman Sanchez, Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    On the occasion of the celebration of Women's History Month, we also get a chance this morning to celebrate ten years of United Way's Women's Initiative by recognizing women leaders in both philanthropy and volunteerism.

    Whereas, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey in Southeastern Pennsylvania is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Women's Initiative affinity group;

  • And whereas, Molly D. Shepard, President and CEO of the Leaders Edge/Leaders by Design, founded the Women's Initiative in 2003; and

    Whereas, the Women's Initiative has raised more than $3 million to support its signature program, Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow, a program that helps at-risk girls learn how to build and maintain healthy relationships and develop enhanced leadership skills; and

  • Whereas, the work of Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow has been supported by a number of local agencies that share United Way's commitment to improving the lives of children, including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Philadelphia; Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia; Congreso; Discovery Charter School; Education Works; Excell Community Development Corporation; Foundation for Pottstown Education; Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania; Girls Incorporated of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey; Healthy Communities Initiative, Inc.; Philadelphia Anti-Drug/ Anti-Violence Network; Philadelphia Department of Human Services - Girls Track; and the Philadelphia Prevention Partnership; Public Health Management Corporation; Say Yes to Education; The Wellness of You, Incorporated; United Communities of Southeast Philadelphia; and the YWCA Tri-County Areas; and

  • Whereas, the Women's Initiative has offered professional women opportunities to volunteer with agencies that work with at-risk girls to develop core values supporting their future success; and

    Whereas, women engaged with the Women's Initiative, under 35 who belong to the Women's Initiative Next Generation, are extended the opportunity to build their network with women who are committed to creating lasting change for individuals and families; and

  • Whereas, the Women's Initiative celebrates a decade of creating exponential impact in the lives of those most in need, carrying out the vision of harnessing the caring power of women, increasing the impact of women donors and growing the number of women volunteers; and

    Whereas, the 2013 Women's Initiative Gala will take place on Wednesday, March 13th at the Crystal Tea Room, Tierney President and CEO Mary Stengel Austen will receive the 2013 Women's Initiative Award and Presenting Sponsor Independence Blue Cross will be recognized for its strong support of the Women's Initiative; and

  • Whereas, the mission so clearly defined a decade ago remains - to mobilize the power of women to give, advocate and volunteer in support of at-risk women and girls; now therefore be it

    Resolved, by the City Council of Philadelphia, that we hereby recognize and celebrate 10 years of United Way's Women Initiative by recognizing women leaders in philanthropy and volunteerism.

    Further resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to its President and leader Jill Michael and CEO and Amy Frazier, Nancy Threlfall, chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Women's Initiative for their commitment, untiring efforts to improve the quality of life for at-risk women and girls throughout our city, as evidence by the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.

    Introduced by women Councilmembers here on stage and supported by all the members of the Philadelphia City Council. We congratulate United Way's Women's Initiative.

  • (Applause.)

  • The Chair recognizes Ms. Michael for remarks.

  • Well, thank you very much, and thank you to all the fabulous Councilwomen who are celebrating this with us today, and thank you to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who has not only been a past recipient of this award but a phenomenal champion for women and girls all across this region.

    For ten years, this dynamic group of leaders has mobilized the power of women to give, advocate, and volunteer in support of at-risk women and girls. So far, this Women's Initiative has raised over $3 million to support its signature program, Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow, which helps young girls develop the core values that support their future success.

    Next week, as you heard, we'll celebrate these first ten years at our annual gala, but we're charging forward toward the future to take the Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow program even further. We all know that a quality education is fundamental to a good quality of life, and helping more children graduate high school, college, and career ready is critical to the success of not only those girls but of our communities as a whole.

    Through Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow, we help hundreds of girls from low-performing schools all across the region to achieve their dreams by wrapping services around them to help them prepare for, attain, and flourish through their post-secondary education.

    Thank you again to all of you for this exciting honor.

  • (Applause.)

  • (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.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read those 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 regarding the following bills: Bill Nos. 130003, 130007, 130022, 130060, 130064, 130079, 130080, and 130083, and I am also transmitting herewith the Commission's request for an additional 45 days to consider Bill Nos. 130061 and 130062; and

    I am pleased to advise you that on March 5, 2013, I signed the following bills that were passed by Council at its session on February 21, 2013: Bill Nos. 120960 and 121002; and

    I am transmitting herewith for the consideration of your honorable body an ordinance authorizing Bharat Patel, owner and operator of the newsstand located on the southwest corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets, to construct, use and maintain conduits in and under the southwest corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets for the purpose of supplying electrical service and telephone service to the newsstand; and

    An ordinance amending the ordinance of March 1, 1963, entitled "An ordinance authorizing the Board of Pensions and Retirement to enter into an agreement or agreements to administer employee retirement benefits for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Passenger Services Improvement Corporation, Food Distribution Center, and the Philadelphia Parking Authority, as amended," to provide for revised reimbursement rates, all under certain terms and conditions.

  • Thank you, Mr. Decker. Those messages will be printed in today's Journal. 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.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Kenney.

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

  • An ordinance authorizing real estate taxes for the City of Philadelphia and School District of Philadelphia at a combined rate of 1 percent for Fiscal Year 2014 and thereafter, by amending Chapter 19-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Real Estate Taxes," to provide for a tax and tax rate on real property, and by amending Chapter 19-1800 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "School Tax Authorization," to further authorize the Board of Education of the School District of Philadelphia to impose a tax and tax rate on real estate within the City of Philadelphia.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I'm happy to introduce a bill that I co-sponsored with you and we're proud to sponsor it.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 16-400 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Vacant and Surplus Properties," to provide for the transfer of certain City-owned real estate for nominal or less than fair market consideration for the purpose of encouraging projects that create affordable housing and/or jobs for low and moderate income residents.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Greenlee.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. On your behalf and together with you, I offer one bill.

  • An ordinance amending Chapter 7-100 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Inclusionary Affordable Housing," Title 4 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "The Philadelphia Building Construction and Occupancy Code," by amending subcode A, entitled "The Philadelphia Administrative Code," further amending Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Zoning and Planning," and making conforming amendments to other sections of The Philadelphia Code; by revising requirements, providing incentives for the voluntary development of projects that include affordable housing and making technical changes.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Henon.

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

  • An ordinance amending Title 19 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Finance, Taxes and Collections," by enacting a new Chapter, entitled "City Incentives for Rapid Growth and Expansion," providing for monetary incentives to encourage rapid development of vacant and abandoned property in the City.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one privileged resolution, which I would like to speak on.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    Mr. Decker, please read the title.

  • A non-privileged resolution urging Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to re-start the adultBasic program for uninsured Pennsylvanians.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    Another week in Council and now we have another major decision that Governor Corbett must make regarding healthcare that will impact thousands of Pennsylvanians and residents of our city.

    Recently, I called on Governor Corbett, along with the support of this Council, to expand Medicare in Pennsylvania under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care. In addition, the Public Health and Human Services Committee will hold hearings on Friday, March 22nd at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the impact of the Governor's failure to adopt the Affordable Care Act. Now through this resolution I am introducing today, I urge the Governor and the General Assembly to re-start adultBasic in Pennsylvania.

    Created in 2002, the adultBasic program was created to provide healthcare for lower-income Pennsylvanians who did not receive health insurance from their employers and earned too much money to qualify for Medicaid and were too young to receive Medicare.

    AdultBasic, which covered major surgery but not dental costs or prescriptions, was so popular that by the late -- by late 2010, it covered 42,625 Pennsylvanians and had a waiting list exceeding 400,000.

    Governor Rendell expanded adultBasic by negotiating voluntary payments from Blue Cross insurers, but the Corbett Administration ended adultBasic because they decided it was too expensive.

    A major source of funding for adultBasic was the Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act, and recent legislation was passed that allowed these funds to be diverted away from this vital program. In response, attorneys William Caroselli and David Senoff filed a lawsuit on behalf of 100 former adultBasic recipients. They argued that this new legislation violated the Tobacco Settlement Act and the Pennsylvania Constitution, and that under the Act, tobacco settlement money was to be used to make Pennsylvanians healthier and provide for the health of future generations of Pennsylvanians, and the Act specified that 30 percent of the proceeds would be shared between adultBasic and Medicaid for workers with disabilities.

    The Commonwealth Court agreed, and in his March 4th majority opinion, President Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled that the Corbett Administration, starting in Fiscal Year 2013-14, must allocate 30 percent of the settlement funds to adultBasic or a similar program, as well as to the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities Program.

    This legal history now brings us to a decision that the Governor must make. Does he simply just want to re-start adultBasic or does he take a bolder step and follow the path of fellow republican governors and expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in a way that includes former adultBasic recipients.

    With this decision, we can only hope that the Governor does not move in haste and thereby causing many Pennsylvanians to repent in leisure by not having healthcare.

    I request the suspension of the rules so that this resolution may be voted on at the end of today's Calendar.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    It has been moved and properly seconded that this particular resolution be held on today's Final Passage this Council day.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have two bills. I'd like to speak briefly on one.

  • An ordinance authorizing Bharat Patel, owner and operator of the newsstand located on the southwest corner of Broad and Chestnut Street, to construct, use and maintain conduits in and under the southwest corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Chapter 16-400 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Vacant and Surplus Property," by authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to take a mortgage in lieu of the purchase price for transfers of certain City-owned real estate for use by the purchaser as his or her principal residence.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    Mr. President, I wanted to commend you for introducing today a package of bills that focus upon transforming vacant properties into tax-producing homes. In my role as State Representative, you came down to Point Breeze and you participated in our community blight and community beautification hearing that we hosted inside the community, and so I wanted to commend you for your effort in making sure we utilize the City's vacant land and vacant properties to become productive uses of parcels.

    The bill today that I introduced on your behalf will incentivize residents with moderate income to acquire and build homes on vacant City-owned properties. This legislation will have a positive impact on parts of my district, like Point Breeze and Southwest Philadelphia, that suffer from a high level of vacant and blighted properties.

    Instead of selling a vacant lot, the City or PRA can take out a mortgage and then forgive the mortgage with no interest if the purchaser, one, uses the property as his or her principal residence for five years; two, gets a construction permit in six months and moves in within two years. If the purchaser doesn't apply, the City and PRA can take back the property or demand the payment of the mortgage with interest.

    And so, again, as we talk about development throughout the 2nd Councilmanic District, I just want to thank you for your progressive leadership in stepping out and introducing this package of bills and tell you to keep up the good work.

  • Thank you, Councilman. That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee. And I just want to say in response to the Councilman, I think it's very important that we recognize all of the Councilmembers on their great work. I want to recognize in particular one Councilmember who I believe will be introducing some additional legislation today, Councilwoman Sanchez, for her work on the land bank, working along with the General Assembly and the task force, along with Councilwoman Blackwell, for crafting ideas about ways to get properties back on the tax rolls, because at the end of the day, it's clear that we need to continue our revenue base.

    So I want to thank you for those kind words, and that bill will in fact be referred to the appropriate committee.

    And it is appropriate that I now recognize Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • Thank you, Council President. I have six bills, one on your behalf.

  • An ordinance repealing Chapter 16-500 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Councilmanic District Development Program," and replacing it with a new Chapter 16-500, entitled "Philadelphia Land Bank," that authorizes the creation of a land bank and provides for its appointment, powers, and duties.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Chapter 16-400 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Vacant and Surplus Properties," to establish Development Districts wherein City-owned real estate may be transferred to the Philadelphia Land Bank or other City-related Agencies.

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

  • And an ordinance regulating the direction of movement of traffic on 7th Street between Lehigh Avenue and Somerset Street.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Chapter 16-400 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Vacant and Surplus Properties," to define the membership, powers, and duties of the Vacant Property Review Committee.

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

  • And an ordinance establishing a no parking regulation on the 2700 block of North 7th Street between Lehigh Avenue and Somerset Street.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance amending Chapter 19-1800 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "School Tax Authorization," to provide for the rate and computation of realty use and occupancy tax; and adding a new Chapter 19-3900 to The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Realty Use and Occupancy Tax."

  • I would like to recognize Councilwoman Sanchez at this time.

  • Thank you, Council President. The bill I just introduced is intended to substitute Bill No. 130139, which I introduced on February 28th, 2013 and which was referred to committee. I would like to have Bill No. 130139 withdrawn. Therefore, I move that the rules of Council be suspended so that I can have a motion at this time on Bill 130139 to be withdrawn.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit a motion at this time to withdraw Bill No. 130139.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it and the motion passes.

    The Chair again recognizes Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • I move that Bill No. 130139 be withdrawn.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that Bill No. 130139 be withdrawn.

    All those in favor will say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The motion passes, and Bill No. 130139 is withdrawn. The aforementioned bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Green.

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

  • Thank you, sir.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Brien.

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

  • Thank you, sir.

    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 and would like to speak on it briefly.

  • A non-privileged resolution calling on the School District of Philadelphia to rename Parent University after the late Arlene C. Ackerman.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. On Sunday, March 4th, I and a number of members of Council attended a packed church at Bright Hope Baptist Church celebrating Dr. Ackerman's good work. She was a teacher, a principal, an educational administrator, a mom, a grandmother. Dr. Arlene Ackerman was devoted to children, period. Even if you disagree with her methodologies or her strategies to improve academic outcomes for our city's children, she was a passionate career educator whose fierce determination for the welfare and well-being of our children and that she was unquestionably committed. She was driven with one purpose, and, that is, all children regardless of color, zip code, income, all children deserve the very best that this city can offer.

    In summer 2011, I was one of the many asking to get time of her demanding schedule even after her resignation. After spending some time talking about her tenure over lunch and the demands of public service, we focused on what mattered more. Two things. Her opportunity to spend less time traveling and more time with her grandchildren, because she longed to spend more time with her grandchildren. And we focused on how important it is during times of challenge and controversy to hold on -- and I quote what she gave me -- hold on to the notion that God is the blessed controller of all things.

    Lastly, I believe the Philadelphia Tribune said it best. Quote, "The good that Dr. Ackerman did for the children of Philadelphia should not be buried with her bones. It should be celebrated and emulated as befitting the life of a woman who may not have been a very good politician but, at the end of the day, was an extraordinary teacher."

    I'd like to call for the suspension of the rules, Mr. President.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It's been moved and properly seconded that the rules be suspended so as to allow reading on this week's Final Passage Calendar.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. This resolution will be on this week's Final Passage Calendar.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one privileged resolution co-sponsored by Sanchez, Johnson, Squilla, Bass, Brown, and Goode.

  • A privileged resolution honoring and celebrating Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for its leadership and advancement of public transportation and recognizing its numerous initiatives to improve public safety for SEPTA passengers and all Philadelphians.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

  • Mr. President, I offer one resolution, non-privileged.

  • A resolution amending Resolution No. 120001, as amended, which provides Rules for the Government of the Council of the City of Philadelphia, by providing for the period between the time that Councilmanic district boundaries are redrawn and the time that Councilmembers elected to represent the revised district first take office.

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one bill and two resolutions.

  • An ordinance amending Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Zoning and Planning," by amending Section 14-405, entitled "SP-ENT, Entertainment (Special Purpose) District," by revising certain provisions relating to setback, parking requirements, parking lots, and off-street loading.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

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

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

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

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

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. Nothing today.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I have two bills and two resolutions, non-privileged, and I'd like to be heard on one resolution, if that's okay.

  • An ordinance amending Title 19 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Finance, Taxes and Collections," by amending Chapter 19-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Real Estate Taxes," by providing for certain deferrals of payment of a certain portion of Real Estate Taxes due the City of Philadelphia or the Philadelphia School District, for owner-occupied properties that are the owner's primary residence, with a limitation of five years.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And an ordinance proposing an amendment to The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter so that there shall be established in the Legislative Branch of the City of Philadelphia Government the "Legislative Budget Office" by the addition of a new "Section 2-105" to "ARTICLE II LEGISLATIVE BRANCH - the Council - its Election, Organization, Powers and Duties," "Chapter 1 THE COUNCIL;" renumbering current Sections 2-105 and 2-106; and providing for the submission of the amendment to the electors of Philadelphia.

  • That bill will be referred to the appropriate committee.

  • And a non-privileged resolution proposing an amendment to The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter so that there shall be established in the Legislative Branch of the City of Philadelphia Government the "Legislative Budget Office."

  • That resolution will be referred to committee.

  • And a non-privileged resolution calling on Mayor Michael Nutter and his administration to pay the non-disputed amount of the Philadelphia Fire Fighters' contract immediately and set aside fifty percent of the disputed amount within a specified designated category of the General Fund portion of the Annual Budget equally prorated over four years beginning in FY 2014 so that the funds are available for payment in the case that an agreement is reached between the City and IAFF Local 22.

  • I'll recognize Councilman Oh at this time.

  • Thank you very much, Mr. President. The last resolution I am offering because the Firefighters have been without a contract since 2009. That contract will expire in July of this year and a new contract will then be negotiated or is being negotiated.

    As we look at the budget, which is going to be -- we're going to hear from the Mayor next week, at this time there's a dispute between the Firefighters and the Administration over the amount of that contract since it has been arbitrated twice in binding arbitration, appealed to the Common Pleas Court, a decision favoring the Firefighters has been rendered, and that too has been appealed to the Commonwealth Court.

    In the interim, I believe that it is uncontroverted that there is a certain amount of this money that is owed immediately to the Firefighters. That is $66 million. The Administration states that their number is $200 million. What my resolution is calling on the Mayor and his Administration to do is to take the uncontroverted amount of the money, $66 million, pay that immediately and then take at least 50 percent of the controverted amount, which is $134 million, take half of that, which is $67 million, and over a prorated period of four years begin to pay that money into a separate and distinct fund so that $16,750,000 are placed in a separate fund each year while this matter is appealed in court so that the Firefighters, number one, have the money that's owed to them immediately and that money is being set aside.

    My concern, as I believe it is all of our concerns here in Council, is that should a court order that this money be paid in one lump sum, we will not be able to pay that funds without either trying to borrow that money, cut services or raise taxes. And I think it is also not a good idea to try to use that money, which is uncontroverted, as a negotiating tactic. I think we should pay that money. In that sense, it would be fiscally responsible and probably a thing in good faith that we could deal with the employees of our city.

    Thank you very much.

  • Thank you. Councilman, that resolution would traditionally go to next week's Final Passage Calendar. Are you okay with that?

  • Thank you. That shall be placed on next week's Final Passage Calendar. Thank you very much.

    The next order of business is reports from committees.

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

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Mr. Decker, would 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. 120054, entitled "An ordinance amending Chapter 19-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled 'Real Estate Taxes,' by providing for installment payment agreements and requiring commencement of enforcement action"; and

    Bill No. 121038, entitled "An ordinance amending Chapter 17-1900 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "First Source Jobs Policy," by clarifying certain definitions and responsibilities of financial assistance beneficiaries and of the City under the Chapter"; and

    Bill No. 130011, entitled "An ordinance amending 19-200 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "City Funds - Deposits, Investments, Disbursements," by requiring that contracts with proposed recipients of City Payroll Deposits, as well as any renewals of such contracts, include an annual statement of community reinvestment goals in addition to existing requirements," respectfully reports it has considered the same and returns the attached bills to Council with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Green.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of the bills just mentioned.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bills No. 120054, 121038, 130011.

    All those in favor please say so by saying aye.

  • (No response.)

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

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

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

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the report.

  • The Committee on Streets and Services, to which was referred Bill No. 120961, entitled "An ordinance authorizing the revision of lines and grades on a portion of City Plan No. 195 by striking from the City Plan Webb Street from Albert Street to Huntingdon Street"; and

    Bill No. 130003, entitled "An ordinance authorizing Ruby D doing business as Lemon Hill Food and Drink to construct, own and maintain an open-air sidewalk cafe at 747 North 25th Street"; and

    Bill No. 130017, entitled "An ordinance establishing a parking regulation on Sartain Street, east side, Shunk Street to Porter Street"; and

    Bill No. 130018, entitled "An ordinance establishing a parking regulation on Fitzwater Street, south side, Juniper Street to Broad Street"; and

    Bill No. 130019, entitled "An ordinance establishing a parking regulation on 13th Street, both sides, Bainbridge Street to South Street"; and

    Bill No. 130020, entitled "An ordinance establishing a parking regulation on Moore Street, north side, 11th Street to 12th Street"; and

    Bill No. 130021, entitled "An ordinance establishing a parking regulation on 12th Street, both sides, McKean Street to Snyder Avenue"; and

    Bill No. 130022, entitled "An ordinance authorizing Farmtable to construct, own and maintain an open-air sidewalk cafe at 824 South 8th Street"; and

    Bill No. 130064, entitled "An ordinance amending Section 6 of an ordinance (Bill No. 120396), entitled 'An ordinance authorizing Northern Liberties Auction to construct, use and maintain various encroachments within the right-of-way of the north sidewalk of Spring Garden Street between North Third Street and Bodine Street,' by extending the period for compliance therewith," respectfully reports it has considered the same and returns the attached bills to Council with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I move that the rules of Council be suspended so to permit the first reading this day of the nine bills that were just read into the record.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bills No. 120961, 130003, 130017, 130018, 130019, 130020, 130021, 130022, and 130064.

    All those in favor please say aye.

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. Those bills will be placed on the First Reading Calendar today.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilwoman Tasco for a report from the Committee on Public Health and Human Services.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The Committee on Public Health and Human Services reports one bill with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    Mr. Decker, please read the report.

  • The Committee on Public Health and Human Services, to which was referred Bill No. 130004, entitled "An ordinance enacting a new Chapter 9-3300, entitled 'Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces,' to provide that certain employees are entitled to paid leave, all under certain terms and conditions," respectfully reports it has considered and amended the same and returns the attached bill to Council with a favorable recommendation.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair again recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • I move that the rules of Council be suspended so this bill can be permitted -- as to permit first reading this day of Bill No. 130004.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded that the rules of Council be suspended so as to permit first reading this day of Bill No. 130004.

    All those in favor please say aye.

  • (No response.)

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

    The next order of business is the consideration of the Calendar. I note that all the bills just reported from committee with suspension of the rules have been deemed to have had a first reading. These bills will be placed on the Second Reading and 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 to call up bills on the Final Passage -- and resolutions on the Final Passage Calendar today.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. The following resolutions and bills are being called up for Second Reading and Final Passage Calendars today: Nos. 130146, 130148, 130149, and 120917-A. All other resolutions and bills are being held.

  • Thank you so much, Councilman.

    Before considering these bills and resolutions, we will consider public comment. I will go through the drill, although apparently no one has signed up.

    You will be given an opportunity to speak. If you are interested in speaking on any bill or resolution on the Final Passage Calendar today, you must sign up at the table to my left. You will be given three minutes. The three minutes has been selected so we can assure that everyone has an opportunity to speak.

    There is a podium in the middle of the Chambers. There's a device on the podium. That device will turn green when it is your time to speak. When it turns yellow, you have 30 seconds to conclude your remarks. When the light turns red, we'd ask that you please accommodate the guidelines and stop speaking.

    Mr. Decker, do we have anyone interested to speak?

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

  • There are no speakers.

    Anyone interested in testifying today on public comment?

  • (No response.)

  • Thank you very much.

    At this time, we will now consider the resolutions and bills on the Second Reading and Final Passage Calendar.

    Mr. Decker, I'd ask for you to please read the title of 130146.

  • A resolution urging the Senate State Government Committee, the Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to oppose and reject Senate Bill 538 which seeks to change the way Pennsylvania's electoral votes for President are distributed.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown.

  • I move for the adoption, Mr. President.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. Resolution 130146 has been adopted.

    Mr. Decker, 130148.

  • A resolution initiating action to continue the Aramingo Avenue Shopping District, a neighborhood improvement district, and to amend the boundaries of the District in an area generally including the east and west sides of Aramingo Avenue from 2700 Aramingo Avenue to 3995 Aramingo Avenue and certain blocks of streets that intersect that portion of Aramingo Avenue and for which Impact Community Development Corporation serves as the Neighborhood Improvement District Management Association.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Squilla.

  • 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. Resolution 130148 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, Resolution 130149.

  • A resolution urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to promulgate regulations regarding crowdfunded investment as mandated by the JOBS Act.

  • 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. Resolution 130149 is adopted.

    Mr. Decker, would you please read the title of 120917-A.

  • An ordinance amending Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Zoning and Planning," by revising certain provisions relating to allowed uses and dimensional standards in commercial districts.

  • Thank you.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman O'Neill.

  • Thank you, Mr. President. I offer one amendment, which has actually been drafted by the Planning Commission, and the Administration is on board, involving the zoning bill that's been sitting on the Calendar, and I will introduce that today and hopefully be able to pass this bill next week. Thank you.

  • I'm assuming that amendment has been circulated?

  • Yes, it has been circulated.

  • Do you want to make a motion on the amendment.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor of the adoption of the amendment?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. Bill No. 120917-A is amended. It will be placed on next week's Final Passage Calendar.

    Mr. Decker, do you have any additional resolutions.

  • A resolution urging Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to re-start the adultBasic program for uninsured Pennsylvanians, introduced by Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Councilman Jones, did you want to be recognized now?

  • You're getting a head start on public comment?

  • Thank you, sir.

    Councilwoman Tasco. I'm sorry. A little levity is always good.

    Councilwoman Tasco, we need a motion.

  • 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 calling on the School District of Philadelphia to rename Parent University after the late Arlene C. Ackerman, introduced by Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Brown.

  • I move for the adoption, Mr. President.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

  • And a resolution honoring and celebrating the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for its leadership and advancement of public transportation and recognizing its numerous initiatives to improve public safety for SEPTA passengers and all Philadelphians, introduced by Councilman Jones.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

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

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • It has been moved and properly seconded.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted.

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

  • Thank you so much.

    That concludes our Calendar for today.

    Are there any speeches on the part of the minority?

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Oh.

  • Thank you very much, Mr. President.

    I distributed on everybody's desk here in Council and let everybody know that this year on March the 22nd, Friday, we have our Fourth Annual 82nd Airborne Philadelphia Chapter All-American Dinner and Awards Ceremony, and of particular interest to this body is that one of our two All-American Award recipients for service to veterans is President of City Council, Darrell Clarke. And it's a prestigious award. Your modesty speaks volumes, but the veterans community has really been very excited by all the activities that you have sponsored in the veterans community. So we certainly welcome everyone to come out to that event.

    Thank you very much.

  • Thank you, sir. And we must give kudos to our two staff people, Wanda and Joyce. They've done a yeoman's job and they've really been doing good work. And, Councilman, thank you again for your continued good work for the veterans and all members of Council. Thank you.

    The Chair now recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • I'd like to yield to Councilwoman Tasco and then be recognized afterwards.

  • The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Tasco.

  • Thank you. Thank you, Councilman Jones. You're so quick.

    After reading the Sunday Inquirer, I proceeded with my morning household chores when it struck me that this cannot be business as usual. Two front page articles scream for attention from all people of color in Philadelphia and African Americans in particular. The story about OARC and Daniel Devers' excellent rebuttal to Philadelphia Magazine's latest and continued assault on black Philadelphia calls for, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, the fierce urgency of now.

    I have had the occasion over the past year to speak to two business people who have come to do work in Philadelphia. One hailed from the South and the other from the Big Apple. Both are unknown to each other, but what they have in common is an observation that there is very little wealth in black Philadelphia.

    I'm going to make a quote. "Them that's got shall get. Them that's not shall lose. So the Bible said and it still is news. Momma may have, Papa may have, but God bless the child that's got his own. That's got his own," end of quote.

    Which brings me back to Sunday's article on Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation, or OARC, in which the Inquirer wrote a story about alleged misuse of state funds. If you look beyond the deliberately misleading headlines and the numerous inferences and innuendos, there is not much there in their story.

    They reduced 30 years of Dwight Evans' hard work to revitalize this formerly blighted community to a headline of indictments. Quote, "The Northwest Philadelphia non-profit founded by State Rep Dwight Evans misspent or mismanaged portions of state grants worth $12 million since 2006, violating fed rules and made questionable real estate purchases with taxpayer funds, according to a state investigation," end of quote.

    For the record, State Representative Evans founded OARC 30 years ago with a mission to revitalize an impoverished, blighted neighborhood. Beginning as a young legislator, he worked tirelessly over the past 30 years to turn around this formerly economically distressed, crime-infested, and blighted neighborhood into a vibrant community with bustling commercial corridors, improved housing stock, educational options, training programs, and business and neighborhood attraction programs.

    If he were a white legislator and this was a white neighborhood, the Inquirer's headline would read, Committed State Legislator Turns Neighborhood Around After 30 Years of Hard Work.

    Dwight Evans worked his way up to the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives through hard work and perseverance. In the 20 years he held this position, he was arguably one of the most powerful state legislators in the Commonwealth, respected by both sides of the aisle for deliberative leadership and bringing home the bacon to his members and their constituents, all members. Philadelphia as a whole did well under Representative Evans, who held the top appropriations leadership position through both democratic and republican administrations in Harrisburg.

    Moreover, Philadelphians, black, white, Latino, Asian, and others residing in neighborhoods across this city, are still today benefiting from the appropriation decisions made by Representative Evans. There would be no Convention Center or its expansion without Dwight. There would be no urban supermarkets in Philadelphia or in various urban areas across this country without Dwight. There would be no Barnes, Jewish Museum or Please Touch Museum without Dwight. There would be no Avenue of the Arts North without Dwight. And we would not have had many of the new recreation centers, playgrounds, health center expansions, and arts and cultural facilities without Dwight Evans.

    The former Appropriations Chairman has bumped heads with many over the years, and at the core of these battles is his dogged determination to improve the lives of the disadvantaged and the underserved through public policy and fair access to government resources, resources that heretofore had been denied to minority communities through public policy decisions that encourage redlining, gerrymandering, and a denial of adequate funding for local schools.

    Representative Evans learned the rules of the game over a 30-year period while serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He learned that holding the purse can affect public policy decisions. Businessmen, labor, community groups, members of civic groups, and a variety of stakeholders lined his Capital office waiting room daily for a chance to speak with him to advance their interest in the state budget. However, a confluence of shortsightedness, petty jealousies and animus led to his tumble from the top perch of Appropriations Chair.

    Money you got, lots of friends crowding around your door. When you're gone, spending ends. They don't come no more. So when two total strangers to the City ask, Why is there so little black wealth in Philadelphia, the answer lies between apathy and petty jealousness, corporate greed and the political benefactors, liberals who are comfortable with blacks on their backs than in the boardroom, and a press that exploits and sensationalizes the misfortune of the black community on one hand and the demonizing of those who dare to craft solutions.

    There is a saying in the black community that whenever we learn the rules of the game, the game changes. Representative Evans learned the rules of the game in Harrisburg, and he was a very effective steward of our resources.

    There is a notion that the African American community is not entitled to participate in decisions of allocating revenue and government resources, we need to somehow be closely monitored and that government in our hands is suddenly more corrupt. The press perpetuates this myth by sensationalizing leaked allegations. We all know that the press gives some political leaders the presumption of innocence and requires a higher bar of evidence before printing allegations of alleged improprieties. If this story was about former Governor Rendell, the Inquirer may have investigated the motives of a republican administration leaking stories about an audit, which the administration refuses to share with the organization named in the report.

    They may have questioned the aim of the audit is to correct deficiencies or bring down the legacy of a more popular predecessor or an attempt by Corbett to win reelection in 2015. They may also ask why couldn't the Corbett Administration want to share the audit and work to correct irregularities. If there is a real smoke and gun, where are the charges? Or is it the true aim to kill off these effective organizations by rumors, allegations, and legal fees, death by a thousand cuts.

    Years from now, long after these organizations are gone, we'll learn that their demise was part of an organized strategy to weaken the political and social safety net in Philadelphia's African American community, much like the national attack on ACORN.

    This month's Philadelphia Magazine front cover story, Being White in Philadelphia, is just another example of the ongoing attack on black Philadelphia. Considering the recent census, African Americans can hold political power for years to come, but if they remain economically disadvantaged, they will never be full partners or independent.

    Rich relations give crust of bread and such. You can help yourself, but don't take too much. God bless the child who's got his own.

    Thank you very much.

  • (Applause.)

  • Thank you so much, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • I'm going to defer to Majority Leader. Is that okay? And I'll come after him, because he deferred to the gentle lady from the Northwest.

  • Okay.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Civility in Council. Civility.

  • That's what I'm talking about.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    With the exception of maybe gambling in the other Administration, with the exception of maybe AVI in today's sessions, the consolidation of schools probably is the most polarizing and galvanizing issue we are going to face. Polarizing in the sense that there's a compelling interest that says 300 million deficit requires some action, polarizing in the sense that that action should not be on the backs of young people, but galvanizing in the sense that parents and advocates for education have come out like never before in recent history.

    I appreciate the outreach of over 40 community meetings and thousands of parents and community leaders to deal with the issue of 37 closings, now down to 27 considered closings or mergers. As Chair of Public Safety Committee for this body, I still remain concerned, however, about children and their transition from closed schools to merged schools to their new location of education.

    I have written the SRC and Dr. Hite about my specific concerns, and they range from the distance, the great distance, some young people will have to travel from their closed school to their new education home. And that path we've done overlays of crime statistics in those areas, and we are fearful about the fact that some mothers have to choose between safely delivering their children to school versus being on time to work.

    We are concerned about mixing of ages and younger kids being bullied or victimized by older kids and the creation of fire walls to maintain their safety so that there are different exit and arrival times, that there are different floors used for different grades to give them a safe passage through school.

    We're also concerned about how transportation will be used to get young people to and from their homes and schools.

    We are looking at these closures and the rapid reuse of these facilities, that we don't want them to be idle, vacant for decades within the communities that they are housed.

    We are looking to make sure that we don't make full decisions on half information. We want to know these safety concerns before we are comfortable with sending our babies, our babies into these institutions.

    I also challenge the parents and advocates in this regard: We said it was galvanizing and that they've come out in force and have changed the direction of some of the consolidations, but we need to see this effort continue beyond the crisis, beyond the decisions made this evening, that they come out whether their schools remain open or whether they're diverted to other areas, to stay involved in the education process, to become and remain critical stakeholders in their children's future so that we are just as excited about the end product as we are about the process. And the end product is creating viable citizens that can take advantage of work and professional opportunities upon their graduation.

    So let's stay tuned tonight. We'll be testifying, along with other members of this body and elected officials, to see what the final decision of the SRC will be. But, again, this is not the end of the process. This should be a continuation and a new beginning for us all.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Blackwell.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    We will be there this afternoon after Council when the vote takes place, many of us who have been fighting with regard to the moratorium and with regard to the school closings.

    I also want to remind my colleagues that immediately following Council, we will have our University of Pennsylvania public safety presentation. Many of you will recall that Maureen Rush gave such an excellent presentation when we talked about this issue, that we asked her to come back and give a presentation to us.

    So we hope you can just spend a little time with us in the Caucus Room. Lunch will be served by Penn, and hopefully we'll -- I'm sure that we'll gain a lot more information.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    Just a couple things. I wanted to start by thanking Councilwoman Tasco for her comments. And as someone who represents a large portion of Northwest Philadelphia, along with her, you know, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. The work speaks for itself that's been done in the Northwest.

    And so I just really wanted to take a moment and thank her for her comments and also to think about the connotation that there may be some level of consideration of race when this article was written is deeply troubling to me, but that's not the only thing that's happened lately with a major publication here in the City regarding race. And there's a publication that I won't even mention by name that has a title across the headlines that says something to the effect of, A Conversation About Race, when there is no one on your editorial board who is African American. So it doesn't make a difference if you're talking about race if you're not talking to different people. You need to be able to dialogue and have conversation with different people to be able to have an effective conversation about race and what separates us and what can bring us together.

    So that's just one thing I wanted to mention, but it wasn't actually what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to take a moment to talk about and draw your attention to community input and talk about investment in two different areas. On December 13th, 2012, the School District announced its reorganization plan that called for the closing of 37 schools. The decision regarding each of those schools was made without community input. It was shocking to many of us that these decisions were made without having any, let alone many, meetings with community members. Therefore, on January 24th, 2013, this body adopted a resolution, introduced by Councilwoman Blackwell, calling for a moratorium on the School District's closings.

    Then on February 19th, 2013, less than ten weeks after releasing its reorganization plan, the School District issued an amended Facilities Master Plan, reducing the total number of school closings from 37 to 29. The School District's press release announcing the revised closing list was titled, and I quote, "School District of Philadelphia Amends Facilities Master Plan Recommendations as a Result of Community Feedback."

    In just nine weeks, the School District held 21 meetings, met with over 5,000 citizens, and revised its plan. If the first plan had thoughtfully included any community input whatsoever, there might not have been need for a rushed amended plan.

    The School District's failure to seek community input in the first instance and its subsequent rushed process, which finally allowed for community participation, only adds to this body's January 24th action calling for a moratorium.

    And so I will be there this evening. I want to invite all of my colleagues to be there as well, because this is something that, as Councilman Jones just mentioned, that I don't think we can just allow to sit back and allow to happen and not raise our voices.

    So thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Sanchez.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

    There's so much to talk about. I do want to add to Councilwoman Tasco's words. As someone who built a charter school with the support of Representative Dwight Evans and having known him for 20 years, there is few, few major developments in my community, in particular in the Latino sections of my district, where his handprint has not been on there. You and I both are investing in Hunting Park. It is through Dwight's support that over a million dollars was allocated to that plan.

    He has supported the Latino community, not because we could vote for him, not because he could gain from it politically, but it was the right thing to do around supporting impoverished communities.

    So I want to thank him for his service. And I think his legacy will be felt throughout my community. There are people in my community who had no idea his involvement and the level of involvement in the projects in my community. So I thank him. I consider him a friend, and I thank him on behalf of all of the constituents in my district who reap the benefits of his allocation and of his leadership.

    I do want to add to my Council colleague Councilman Jones around the beginning of the conversation. I too will join as -- we might have a quorum over at the SRC this evening. I too am going to be attending today's session at the SRC, and I think it is important that we continue to infuse ourselves in this conversation with the SRC and the community.

    I still believe the School District has to do a better job at articulating how these closures contribute to high-performing slots for children throughout the City. I still think there's a lot of questions that need to be answered. So we'll continue to ask those questions, and when they don't have the answer, we will provide the answer, and I think we need to continue to do that.

    I strongly urge the SRC that after today, that the panel that reviews any future closures be done with members of the community. If we've learned anything from this, a school closure decision should be a no-brainer. They should be able to put that through a panel that says, Absolutely, that school needs to be closed, and this is the things that we need to take into consideration when we close it. And I strongly encourage the SRC to do that. They cannot make those decisions in isolation. They have to make decisions. They cannot make them in isolation. And even if the communities will always disagree, there has to be some consideration of their roles as stakeholders in this process.

    But which leads me to my final comment and some of the discussions we're having today in your introduction of some bills. We have to get to the revenue side of what we're talking about. And so we as a Council have to continue to look at ways that the Administration could create and streamline our processes so that we can bring new revenue, so that we further expand our tax base.

    And so I want to end with that, that we are -- we have to -- and we have in the past, but this year more than ever with AVI and everything else, we have to find the revenues so that the discussion is not about what we disagree, but what we agree that we wholeheartedly have to support.

    So I want to thank you for your leadership in that and look forward to working towards that end.

  • Thank you, Councilwoman.

    The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.

  • Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Mr. President and colleagues, over the last year, we have worked on the initiative known as AVI, and I want to thank my colleague from South Philadelphia, Mark Squilla, for stepping up to the plate and taking the lead in making sure that we approach this process thoroughly and cautiously. And I recognize with the release of the new property tax assessments, that many of my constituents are feeling the shock of their property taxes possibly going up. I have seen firsthand a large number of seemingly inaccurate assessments, and I expect a very large number of residents will need to file for the first-level review to correct their assessments. Many of these homeowners are just beginning to realize that their assessments are inaccurate.

    The March 31st deadline to file a first-level review does not give homeowners a sufficient amount of time to evaluate the assessment and submit that information to the City. We need to extend this deadline. Accordingly, I am respectfully requesting that the Administration extend the deadline for the filing of the first-level review for at least 45 days to allow all residents to take advantage of this protective measure.

    This morning I hand-delivered a letter to the Mayor's Office asking that he allow for a 45-day extension of the deadline. I hope that the Administration will understand that; therefore, allow residents more time to vet this process as we look at and move forward the Actual Value Initiative.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • Thank you so much, Councilman.

    That concludes our speeches for the minority and majority. At this time, I would like to recognize Councilwoman Brown for a motion to adjourn.

  • Yes, Mr. President. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez said it right. There's so many issues. I will briefly speak on two.

    I join the chorus of Councilmembers regarding our concerns around the School District and the closures. I too will be there this afternoon to hear and listen to the final decisions rendered by the School Reform Commission.

    And, secondly, the remarks offered by Councilwoman Tasco need to be underscored in bold letters. I was struck early on about the transformative appearance of Ogontz Avenue and took a visit up there with Representative Evans about eight years ago, and I would say but for his transformative leadership, Ogontz Avenue would not be what it is today, and that that is one of the few places you can go in the City and see small business owners, minority and female, thriving in a way that we would like to see universally across this city.

    With that said, Mr. President, I move that Council stand adjourned until Thursday, March 14th, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

  • (Duly seconded.)

  • Thank you, Councilwoman. It has been moved and properly seconded that Council stand adjourned.

    All those in favor?

  • (No response.)

  • Council will stand adjourned until Thursday, March 14th, 2013.

    Thank you all very much.

  • (Stated Meeting adjourned at 12:20 p.m.)