Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown – Press

COUNCILWOMAN BLONDELL REYNOLDS BROWN TO DANCE WITH PHILADANCO ALUMNAE AT THE 44TH ANNUAL “DANCO ON DANCO”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHAT: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown will reunite and dance with alumnae of the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) at the 44th Annual “Danco on Danco” performance. The dance is titled, “Smooth and Easy,” choreographed by Richard Moten, featuring the music of Whitney Houston and Maxwell

WHEN: Saturday October 5, 2013 7:30 pm-10:00 pm

WHERE: Painted Bride Arts Center 230 Vine Street Philadelphia, PA 19106

WHO: Choreographer Richard Moten featuring Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Jamilla Toombs, Kim Y. Bears-Bailey, Evelyn W. Ebo, and Maureen Hennighan Booker. Dancers from PHILADANCO, D/2 and D/3 and the instruction and training programs, featuring the works of emerging choreographers.

ABOUT: General Admission: $25 Student Advanced: $18.75 Senior Advanced: $18.75

For tickets, call the Painted Bride Box office at 215-925-9914 or www.paintedbride.org

Founded in 1970, PHILADANCO has a legacy of breaking barriers and building bridges across cultural divides, consistently performing for audiences representing an amalgamation of people from diverse communities. PHILADANCO is recognized for its artistic integrity, superbly trained dancers and electrifying performances. Across the nation and around the world, PHILADANCO is celebrated for its innovation, creativity and preservation of predominantly African-American traditions in dance.

For more information, please contact Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215 686-3438 or 267-250-2925

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday October 3, 2013—Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill to ban the use of automated purchasing machines. The bill is co-sponsored by Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., Chair of the City Council Committee on Public Safety. The machines dispense instant cash in exchange for cell phones, mp3 players and/or electronic tablets. After an electronic evaluation of the device, the consumer receives cash on the spot based on the market value of the phone and its current working condition.  Newer, more expensive devices yield higher cash payouts to the consumer. The bill bans the machines from operating within the City of Philadelphia and provides for the seizure and forfeiture of such machines. There is currently one such machine in operation at the Franklin Mills Mall. In March 2013, Lookout, a global mobile security firm reported that Philadelphia has the highest lost/stolen cell phone rate in the nation. AAA also reports that one in three robberies nationwide involve a cell phone. “Most Philadelphians have either been the victim of, or know someone who has had a cell phone, iPod, tablet or other electronic device stolen. This is a major public safety concern.  Cell phone robberies are the crime of today and far too many of them are turning violent. We as a City cannot allow further incentives entice criminal activity,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “This is also an economic concern because these devices are very expensive. A stolen cell phone can break the bank for a lot of families, particularly those who give them to young people to stay in touch. These machines are not the right fit for the City of Philadelphia.” Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is echoing law enforcement and public officials in cities like Washington, D.C and Baltimore, who are similarly concerned that such machines will further encourage criminal activity and theft.  In September 2013, Baltimore City Council passed a bill to ban the machines which was subsequently signed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; a statewide ban in Maryland was introduced by Delegate Luke Clippinger. In a March interview with the Washington Post, a D.C. Police spokesperson said “This is a huge problem. The opportunity for quick cash is driving robberies of smartphones.”

For more information, contact Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925

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MAYOR NUTTER SIGNS COUNCILWOMAN BLONDELL REYNOLDS BROWN’S “WOMEN ON CORPORATE BOARDS” BILL-# 130457

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) September 25, 2013 –Today, Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s “Women on Corporate Boards” Bill.  The legislation requires contractors seeking to do business with the City of Philadelphia to disclose certain demographic information including gender, race and geographic data of those serving as board members and executive staff. “We cannot manage what we cannot measure.  This bill will offer us the transparency needed to determine if a contractor values diversity in the workplace and in leadership positions” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “It requires prospective contractors to put the gender of their leadership in writing, which tells them up front that gender diversity matters. We want to encourage companies to increase the number of women seated at those tables where major decisions are made, because we know that if women are not at the table, issues that are important to us end up on the menu.” “Philadelphia has a diverse and talented population, and it is important that we have these people represented on boards in our city,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “I want to thank Councilwoman Reynolds Brown for her advocacy on the issue of women and minorities serving in greater numbers in leadership positions on corporate boards.” The bill was a recommendation from a 2013 report produced and sponsored by Councilwoman Reynolds Brown and reported out of the City Council Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.  The report, “Women on Corporate Boards:  We Can Do Better!” detailed the following:

  • Women occupy 11 percent of board seats in the top 100 public companies in the region
  • Women of Color represent less than one percent of board seats in the region
  • Women represent 11 percent of the 36 new directors at 45 of the largest public companies in the region
  • 41 percent of boards in Philadelphia have zero women
  • In 1976 women occupied five percent of Fortune 500 board seats
  • By 2011, the number has risen to 16 percent

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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DREAM FLAGS ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

9.25.13 Dream Flags Advisory

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COUNCILWOMAN TO INVESTIGATE SCHOOL INCOME TAX COLLECTIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) Thursday September 12, 2013 – Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown today called for hearings to investigate the efficiency of collections of the School Income Tax.   The School Income Tax is imposed by the School District of Philadelphia and applies to various classes of unearned income not subject to the Philadelphia Business Income and Receipts Tax or City Wage Tax.  The School Income Tax applies to the following types of income:

  • Dividends
  • Interest Income
  • S Corp Distributions
  • Partnership Distributions
  • Estates abd Trust Income
  • Rental Income
  • Other Taxable Income

“The School Income Tax is difficult to collect because it applies to ‘unearned income,’ often relying on self reporting by the taxpayer,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “If current practices are not working, we must develop a more efficient plan moving forward.” “Finally, parents need to know that we are not resting on our laurels just because schools opened on time; we continue to search for every dollar.” A 2012 report by the Philly Post cited over $5.7 million in delinquent School Income Taxes.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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COUNCILWOMAN HOSTS WOMEN ON BOARDS BILL SIGNING

WOB Signing Flyer

COUNCILWOMAN RELEASES COMPREHENSIVE WOMEN ON BOARDS REPORT

Click HERE to Read the Report!

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Press Release Headlines

COUNCILWOMAN’S STATEMENT ON PASSING OF CONGRESSMAN BILL GRAY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) Tuesday July 2, 2013 – “I am still in a state of shock. Congressman Bill Gray really made a mark on my political career. It was Congressman Gray who first mentioned, inspired and urged me to go to my first Democratic National Convention in 1984. Because of that “nudging” I have been to 7 of the last 8 DNC Conventions. I was also astonished by his gift as a Pastor, having been a longtime member of Bright Hope Baptist Church. If you had the privilege of hearing his sermons, you know that his knowledge of the Bible equaled his knowledge of the Constitution. I join the legions of adoring admirers who will miss his footprint. He was a leader who distinguished himself as a minister, educator, Congressman and father. In all these roles, he made excellence his standard while never losing the common touch. My heart and prayers go out to his family. We thank them for sharing him with the City of Philadelphia and the nation. We must all remember that God gives us work to do on earth and then he calls us home.” 

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438 

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CITY ALLOCATES $500,000 FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) Tuesday, June 25, 2013 – The City of Philadelphia has just allocated $500,000 to the Office of Housing and Community Development to expand quality early childhood education in Philadelphia through a Facilities Fund. This marks the first time that money has come directly from the General Fund to support early childhood education.  In response to the Philadelphia School District’s plan to transfer 2,000 Head Start seats to community child care programs, this investment—along with a $500,000 match from the William Penn Foundation—will help programs to prepare new classrooms and to ensure teachers have the proper credentials to meet high quality standards.  The funding was championed by Councilmembers Blondell Reynolds Brown, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Jannie L. Blackwell.  At a press conference, all three Councilwomen attended to speak about the value of quality early childhood education.  Citing a Center for American Progress Study, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown said, “Early childhood is the single most significant period of development for children—90 percent of a child’s brain growth occurs between birth and the age of three. Furthermore, studies show that society receives a seven dollar return on investment for every dollar spent on early childhood education.  This data compelled us to work together, take action and make the critical funding request.”   

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438 

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CITY  COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PASSES WOMEN ON BOARDS LEGISLATION SPONSORED BY COUNCILWOMAN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday June 13, 2013 –Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s “Women on Boards” Bill.  The legislation requires contractors seeking to do business with the City of Philadelphia to disclose certain demographic information including gender, race and geographic data of those serving as board members and executive staff.  “We cannot manage what we cannot measure.  This bill will offer us the transparency needed to determine if a contractor values diversity in the workplace and in leadership positions” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “It is a fact that when three or more women are at the table in executive positions, the content and tone of a meeting changes.  Women bring a different, yet equally significant set of priorities to the table.”  Autumn Bayles, President of the Forum of Executive Women said, “We [the Forum] believe that having more women in executive positions and on boards is good for business.  Diverse thinking lends itself to natural checks and balances, and adds different perspectives on consumers, many of whom are female.”  The bill was a recommendation from a 2013 report produced and sponsored by Councilwoman Reynolds Brown and reported out of the City Council Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.  The report, “Women on Corporate Boards:  We Can Do Better!” detailed the following: 

  • Women = 11% of board seats in the top 100 public companies in the region
  • Women of Color = Less than 1% of board seats in the region
  • Women = 11% of the 36 new directors at 45 of the largest public companies in the region
  • 41% of boards in Philadelphia have zero women
  • In 1976 women occupied 5% of Fortune 500 board seats—By 2011, the number rose to 16% 

Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to sign the bill which would go into effect immediately thereafter.  Enforcement will be handled by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce via the Office of Economic Opportunity. 

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438 

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COUNCILWOMAN CALLS FOR HEARINGS ON ADAPTIVE REUSE OF SHUTTERED SCHOOL BUILDINGS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday June 13, 2013—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution calling for hearings to investigate strategies and offer recommendations for the adaptive reuse of the buildings that will become vacant as a result of the closure of 23 schools for the 2013-2014 academic year.  The resolution is co-sponsored by Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, Chair of the City Council Committee on Education.  A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design revealed that only 25 percent of the closed schools are located in strong real estate markets, with the remaining 75 percent located in transitional or weak markets. As a result, Mayor Nutter has directed Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger to organize an effort, with the School District and appropriate agencies, to develop a plan for the repurposing of shuttered school buildings.   “Abandoned buildings can quickly become the scourge of a neighborhood if there is no plan in place to secure new tenants or re-imagine the building,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “Prior proper planning makes the difference; by putting together an action plan now, we have the opportunity for creative, innovative ideas that can transform neighborhoods in a positive manner.  Our goal is to harness the creativity and brain power from a host of diverse stakeholders to breathe new life into these buildings, energize surrounding neighborhoods and realize new revenue for the School District of Philadelphia.”   Hearings will be held in City Council’s Committee on Education.  Councilmembers Reynolds Brown and Blackwell will invite city planning experts, residents and community leaders, District Councilmembers, School District and Mayoral Administrations and developers to offer feedback.  Best practices will also be examined from cities with similar challenges including Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Washington D.C. and Cincinnati.

For more information, to request a quote or interview, please contact Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438.

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COUNCILWOMAN WANTS CITY DEPARTMENTS TO WORK TOGETHER ON AVI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday April 18, 2013—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution calling for hearings to investigate the coordination between various City commissions, departments and agencies on the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) in the City of Philadelphia. The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Marian B. Tasco.  During the Office of Property Assessment’s March 2013 budget hearing, it was revealed that many homeowners in the City were not informed, educated or fully aware of the proposed AVI initiative, and out of 340,000 property owners eligible for the Homestead Exemption, only 183,000 applications were received.  Evidence suggests that certain categories of homeowners may require additional or alternative methods of outreach, particularly those homeowners who lack regular internet access, including the elderly and low income, and those who have limited English proficiency.  “AVI outreach must be a collaborative, team effort with all hands on deck from all City departments.  I join several City Council colleagues who have concerns that citizens, especially seniors, vulnerable populations and other hard to reach groups are not being adequately informed about what AVI means to them, and of protections available to them,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “We cannot assume that we have 340,000 homeowners who are glued to the news each day looking for the latest update on AVI.  It is in the best interest of our citizens for all City departments to work together to be in neighborhoods, in churches, in living rooms and to leave no stone unturned in the effort to get this information into the hands of our constituents—the burden is on government to reach out.”  The hearing will occur in Council’s Committee of the Whole in concert with similar AVI hearings called by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and Council President Darrell Clarke.

For more information, to request a quote or interview, please contact Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438. 

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COUNCILWOMAN INTRODUCES BILL TO REGULATE “TOUCH THERAPY” MASSAGE INDUSTRY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday April 4, 2013—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the Touch Therapy Bill that would regulate “touch therapy” establishments operating in the City of Philadelphia.  The Massage Therapy Act of 2008 was enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with the goal of  “regulating massage therapy; establishing the State Board of Massage Therapy; providing for funds, for licensure, for disciplinary action, for remedies, for penalties and for preemption.”  The Office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, as a result of her ongoing investigation into human trafficking in Philadelphia, discovered a major loophole in the bill providing an exemption—“Nothing in this act shall be construed as preventing, restricting or requiring licensure of any of the following activities”—for individuals who use “touch to affect the energy systems, acupoints, Qi meridians or channels of energy of the human body…includ[ing] acupressure, Asian bodywork therapy, polarity therapy bodywork, quigon, reiki, shiatsu and tui na.”  “This bill will finally regulate an industry that has allowed some ‘bad apples’ to operate with an ‘anything goes’ approach, all under the auspices of ‘touch therapy,’” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.  “They are flagrantly violating the law right under the noses of law enforcement, casting a cloud of suspicion on the professionals that are actually practicing the legitimate healing techniques involved in touch therapy, and in the process, using and abusing women and girls who deserve a better life.  This is unacceptable.  I do not know how or why these exemptions were granted, but I can almost guarantee that they were not conceived of or implemented at the suggestion of a woman.”    What This Bill Would Do The Law requires that Touch Therapy Establishments in the City of Philadelphia:

  1. Apply for, acquire and, when appropriate, renew a valid, current Touch Therapy license to be issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
  2. The application will ask the applicant to record all criminal convictions, a statement detailing all instances in which the applicant had any professional or occupational license denied, suspended or revoked and all locations where the applicant will perform touch therapy. The fee for the application will be $100 or another amount as determined by the Department of Licenses and Inspections during the regulation process. 
  3. The Department of Licenses of Inspections shall issue the license to an applicant who provides all information listed above except in the following cases: 

i.      The applicant has been convicted of a crime of moral turpite. ii.      The department has probable cause to believe the applicant has committed any crime in connection with the provision of Touch Therapy. Touch therapy business owners and operators will be required to display the license certificate at all locations where touch therapy is provided. Touch therapy business owners and operators must notify the Department of Licenses and Inspections of any change to the information provided in the initial application within fifteen days. Licenses will expire one year from date of issuance or a date determined by the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Enforcement and Penalties Fine: $300 Engaging in Touch Therapy without a valid, current license shall be a Class III offense.

For more information, to request a quote or interview, please contact Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438.

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COUNCILWOMAN INTRODUCES BILL TO REQUIRE CITY CONTRACTORS TO DISCLOSE NUMBER OF WOMEN SERVING IN EXECUTIVE POSITIONS AND ON BOARDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday March 14, 2013—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill that would require contractors seeking to do business with the City of Philadelphia to disclose the number of women serving in executive positions and serving on their executive and full boards. With the backdrop of Women’s History Month, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown continues her push for full gender equality in the workplace and in executive leadership positions. Coinciding with the release of “Women on Corporate Boards:  We Can Do Better,” the bill is the first of several recommendations in the report. “Both the report and the bill take pro-active steps to increase the representation of women in executive positions and on executive boards in Philadelphia,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “To think that in 2013, 41% of boards in Philadelphia have not one woman sitting at the table just floors me.  Furthermore, we know that women of color represent less than one percent of board seats which is absolutely not acceptable.  With the introduction of this bill, we are no longer talking about it; we are doing something about it.  I intend to use every legislative resource available to us to make change for the better and to seize the moment, now.” Below is a snapshot of key findings from “Women on Boards:  We Can Do Better.”  The full report can be downloaded from the link at the top of the page. Key Findings:

  • Women=46.6% of workforce nationally
  • Women=11% of board seats in the top 100 public companies in the region
  • Women of Color= Less than 1% of board seats in the region
  • Women=11% of the 36 new directors at 45 of the largest public companies in the region
  • 41% of boards in Philadelphia have zero women
  • 11% of the 36 new directors at 45 of the largest public companies in the region are women
  • In 1976 women occupied approximately 5% of Fortune 500 board seats—In 2011, the number is 16%

For more information, to request a quote or interview, please contact Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438.

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COUNCILWOMAN ISSUES STATEMENT ON SCHOOL CLOSURES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday March 7, 2013—Today is a sad day for parents, students, teachers and all Philadelphians that care about providing the best education possible to our young people. So many children identify themselves with and take great pride in their school, myself included.  The fact that I am a “Girls High Girl,” is one of those defining biographical items that have stayed with me since graduation day, so I understand and sympathize with those who have lost their school. Generations have passed the legacies of their alma maters to their children and grandchildren.  For many, this will feel like a death in the family. I want to express my view clearly however, that today’s vote by the SRC was not set in motion by Dr. Hite.  The wheels were put into motion when in 2010, Governor Corbett removed Philadelphia students from his priorities list and has left them off ever since. As $300 million in state funding to the School District of Philadelphia has vanished over 2 budget cycles, $375 million in new business tax cuts have appeared.  The Corbett priorities list is clear as day, and it is a shame. Today’s decision by the SRC is the day we had hoped to avoid for some time, but as Bill Clinton said so clearly at the Democratic National Convention, it boils down to “arithmetic.”  The funds simply are not there and in the absence of a change of heart in Harrisburg, we must take responsibility to work with what we have and to the best of our collective ability, make it work. Along with my colleagues, we will continue to work with the School District to offer recommendations, tweak the proposal and to offer new solutions to improve upon the plan passed today.  I will be taking an active role in this pro-active strategy and I am encouraged that Dr. Hite and his team are receptive to our feedback.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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COUNCILWOMAN CALLS FOR EARLY VOTING LEGISLATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday, February 14, 2013—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution in City Council calling on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to introduce and pass legislation allowing for early voting in primary and general elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The resolution is co-sponsored by Republican Councilman At-Large, Dennis M. O’Brien.  “As a nation, it is clear we are moving toward early voting as the rule, not the exception.  When 32 other states have figured out how to make it work, it is time for Pennsylvania to get on board,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “This is not meant to give one party an advantage over another. For seniors and students, working moms and dads alike, it does not matter whether you are in a red, blue or purple county—sometimes life can just get in the way of getting to your polling place on Election Day.  We need to be doing all we can to increase voter participation in every single precinct across the Commonwealth.” Early voting in the United States has increased in Presidential Elections from 7% in 1992 to 31% in 2008.  As of the November 6, 2012 General Election, 32 states and the District of Columbia allowed qualified voters to cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to Election Day.  Currently Pennsylvania provides only for absentee voting.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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COUNCILWOMAN CALLS FOR HEARINGS ON CHARITABLE EXEMPTIONS FROM TAXES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday January 24, 2013—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution calling for hearings on the issue of charitable exemptions from property taxes.  Currently, organizations with charitable exemptions, own 10.8% of total assessed value of properties in the City of Philadelphia and that number continues to grow as non-profit organizations acquire more land.  According to a study by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Plan Philly, $528 million in property taxes were not collected due to charitable exemptions.  “Philadelphia has been faced with the same ‘economic déjà vu’ for decades,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “Our wage and corporate tax rates discourage businesses from coming to Philadelphia, or worse, by encouraging them to take jobs out of our city.  We know that jobs are the key to lowering our 25% poverty rate.  Therefore, for three years in a row, our remaining option on the table has been property taxes.  The issue is not that our property owners have not stepped up to the plate.  Our problem is that $528 million in property taxes are off the table because of non-profit exemptions.  We cannot continue to ask property owners for increased sacrifice, when we have tax exempt, non-profit institutions with profit margins that rival major corporations.” A charitable exemption status is granted when an organization passes the “HUP Test,” based on a 1985 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision (Hospital Utilization Project vs. Commonwealth).   The “HUP Test” states that an organization seeking charitable exemption must advance a charitable purpose, donate or render gratuitously a substantial  portion of its serves; benefit a substantial and indefinite class of persons who are legitimate subjects of charity; relieve the government of some of its burden and operate entirely free from private profit motive. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown expects to hold hearings in spring, 2013 in Council’s Committee on Rules.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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CITY COUNCIL PASSES HOSPITALITY PROMOTION BILL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) Thursday, December 213 2012 – City Council unanimously passed the Hospitality Promotion Bill, introduced by Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, which will generate additional revenue to support the promotion of the Philadelphia tourism economy. In 2008, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enabled the City of Philadelphia to levy a tax of up to 1.5% of the booking of hotel room(s).  At the time, the City opted to set the rate at 1.2%.  The Hospitality Promotion Bill will increase the rate to 1.5%.  The remaining 0.3% will be divided evenly between the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PCVB), yielding an estimated $1 million per year for each organization to help bring additional visitors to Philadelphia. The increase will help offset a dramatic decline in funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (see attached).  Together, the organizations (GPTMC/PCVB) have lost approximately $10 million annually from previous levels, threatening Philadelphia’s ability to compete for valuable tourist dollars. The bill will add .50 cents to the price of an overnight hotel stay but will not affect Philadelphia’s 11th place ranking of effective tax rates among the nation’s 25 largest hotel markets. The new hotel tax rate will be 15.5%, still lower than New York (16.03%), Los Angeles (15.57%), Chicago (16.39%) and Houston (17.0%). The tourism industry generates more than $9 billion per year in regional economic impact and supports 88,000 jobs; 52,000 jobs in Philadelphia alone. From 1997-2010, overnight visitation to Greater Philadelphia grew six times faster than the national average, according to the U.S. Travel Association. “The numbers do not lie; the success stories are not a coincidence.  We know that for every dollar we spend to promote Philadelphia it generates $100 in visitor spending at local businesses – plus $5 in tax revenue for the City of Philadelphia. The corporate world would classify that as a hit,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “Philadelphia is to culture and tourism what Detroit is to the automobile industry.  It means jobs, paychecks and growth for our economy, so it behooves us to take whatever steps are necessary to keep our economic engine running at full speed.” The bill would take effect July 1, 2013. 

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CITY COUNCIL PASSES BILL REVISING CHILDCARE ZONING CODES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday November 15, 2012—City Council unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown that revises the zoning code as related to childcare in residential properties. The bill will allow for the expansion of family childcare in homes through a special exception process as opposed to a variance.  Currently, the burden of proof lies on the applicant to prove there is no other feasible use for the property.  Even absent community opposition, a variance is unlikely to be granted. “Childcare for up to 12 children is an appropriate residential use as long as there is strong community support.  We cannot expect working families and childcare providers to jump through the significant hoops presented by our zoning code,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “We absolutely need protections in place for children and for communities—but they need to be reasonable and the exceptions have to be attainable.” The special exception process is “variance light.”  The special exception will still require a high burden of proof, however, if community support is demonstrated, the Zoning Board will have discretion to grant a special exception, which is not possible in the current code.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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CITY COUNCIL PASSES COUNCILWOMAN’S ATV BILL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday October 25, 2012—City Council passed a bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown on behalf of the Nutter Administration related to All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). The bill restricts riders from operating, parking, stopping, placing or standing ATVs on a public sidewalk or public property including parks and recreation centers unless authorized by law.  The bill gives the Philadelphia Police Department the authority to confiscate vehicles found to be in violation of the ordinance.  Alternatively, Police can issue a $2000 fine if riders can prove that the value of the vehicle is in excess of $2000.  The bill gives authority to the police department to dispose of ATVs either by destruction or in a manner that prevents vehicles from easily making their way back to Philadelphia streets. The bill was amended from its original form to allow a community education campaign to advise ATV owners and riders of the new law.  An amendment also provides an exception for ATV owners who park the vehicles outside their property.  Councilwoman Reynolds Brown has worked with the Administration, Police Department, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, community organizations, private sector business owners and citizens on all sides of the issue–all of whom were in attendance at a four hour public hearing on October 3, 2012. “I have made clear that this is step one in a multi step process.  First we have to get a handle on public safety, giving police the enforcement tools they need to crack down on what remains an illegal activity—riding ATVs in our public sidewalks, streets and parks,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “However, as has been my practice, I do not take a ‘my way or the highway’ approach.  We are committed to sitting down with ATV enthusiasts for whom riding is a fun, recreational activity, and those in the private sector who see an opportunity for a safe and profitable business venture.  The conversation continues.” According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 521 deaths have been recorded in Philadelphia from 1982-2010 as a result of ATVs; from 1982-2006, 105 deaths were of children under the age of 16. Other large cities have implemented solutions to crack down on the problem.  Sting operations are conducted in New York City and in Baltimore, gas stations are banned from providing fuel to ATVs and parents could be jailed for allowing a minor to ride.  The Councilwoman intends to continue working closely with the Mayor’s Office, Police, concerned citizens and community leaders to examine best practices that make sense for Philadelphia.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PASSES COUNCILWOMAN’S RESOLUTION FOR CHILD ADVOCACY FUNDING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday October 11, 2012—City Council unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown in support of House Resolution 840, urging Pennsylvania State University to fund child advocacy centers throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pursuant to the consent decree with the NCAA, Penn State has established a $60 million endowment for the stated purpose of “assisting child victims of sexual abuse and to help prevent such abuse in the future.”  Child advocacy centers provide state of the art treatment for victims of child sexual abuse and their families led by professionals with expertise in healing, justice and support services.  Currently, Pennsylvania has only 21 child advocacy centers spread across 67 counties.  Of those counties without such a support facility is Centre County, home to Penn State University. Child advocacy centers rely on funding from government, corporations, foundations and individual donors and therefore, have no dedicated stream of funding.   “This would be a huge step in the right direction to protect children throughout Pennsylvania, turning tragedy into advocacy.” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, a Penn State alum. “In Philadelphia, we are fortunate to have organizations like the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance who are a national model in this field.  When a child is victimized, they need our help immediately.  A parent or guardian should not have to search or travel far and wide for such support services.“ The Resolution was introduced in Harrisburg by State Representative Julie Harhart with 21 co-sponsors and will be heard in the Pennsylvania Committee on Judiciary.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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MAYOR NUTTER SIGNS COUNCILWOMAN’S ENERGY BENCHMARKING BILL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown to hold bill signing on Bill # 120428 –Energy Benchmarking for Commercial Buildings. 

WHAT:                

Mayor Michael A. Nutter signs the Energy Benchmarking for Commercial Buildings Bill sponsored by Councilwoman At-Large Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment.

The purpose of the new ordinance is to inform organizations about how they use energy, where they use it, and what drives their energy use.  Energy Benchmarking is also a key step in identifying opportunities to increase profitability by lowering energy and operating costs.  Energy Benchmarking helps establish energy consumption baselines in order to set useful goals.

WHEN:                

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 @ 1:00 p.m.

WHO:                  

Mayor Michael A. Nutter

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair, Committee on the Environment

Councilman James F. Kenney, Vice-Chair, Committee on the Environment

Energy Efficient Building Hubs at the Navy Yard

PECO

Delaware Valley Green Building Council

Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia

Mayors Office of Sustainability

Penn Environment

Penn Future

Pennsylvania Environmental Council

Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations

For more information, please contact David Forde in Councilwoman Brown’s office at (215) 686-3438.

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COUNCILWOMAN INTRODUCES ATV BILL WITH TOUGH PENALTIES AND ENFORCEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday September 20, 2012—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill on behalf of the Nutter Administration that establishes restrictions, penalties and provides for enforcement related to the use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in the City of Philadelphia. The bill restricts riders from operating, parking, stopping, placing or standing ATVs on a public sidewalk or public property including parks and recreation centers unless authorized by law.  Riders who are found to be in violation of the ordinance risk forfeiture of the vehicle, or a $2000 fine, to be issued by the Philadelphia Police Department.  Vehicles will be confiscated by the Police, who will dispose of the ATVs either by destruction or in a manner that prevents the vehicles from easily making their way back to Philadelphia streets. “This bill is in response to what many of my colleagues will tell you is the number one complaint from constituents—the illegal riding of ATVs throughout streets and neighborhoods in Philadelphia.  My office has spent the summer speaking with a host of stakeholders including the Police, the Nutter Administration, community leaders and ordinary citizens who have been impacted from all angles of the issue,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “There is no silver bullet answer that will alleviate the concerns of those who seek to ride ATVs and those who are put in harm’s way by the activity.  This is step one—the first in a series of proposals that must occur in order for us to get a handle on this complicated and multi-layered issue.” According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 521 deaths have been recorded in Philadelphia from 1982-2010 as a result of ATVs; from 1982-2006, 105 deaths were of children under the age of 16. Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources Michael DiBerardinis said, “I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to the City partners, specifically Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, and community leaders who we’ve been working with on this issue for many months now.  ATVs are a public safety threat that cause significant damage to our City’s parks and recreation centers.  These illegal vehicles prohibit the majority of children, youth and families from enjoying these spaces in the manner for which they were intended.  This legislation is another viable tool to help us protect our City’s treasured public spaces.” Other large cities have implemented solutions to crack down on the problem.  Sting operations are conducted in New York City and in Baltimore, gas stations are banned from providing fuel to ATVs and parents could be jailed for allowing a minor to ride.  The Councilwoman intends to continue working closely with the Mayor’s Office, Police, concerned citizens and community leaders to ensure a collaborative effort resulting in a series of recommendations and best practices that make sense for Philadelphia.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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COUNCILWOMAN CALLS FOR HEARINGS ON ATV’S  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday June 21, 2012 –Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution authorizing Council to hold public hearings to review and examine the regulations surrounding All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).  The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Curtis Jones, Jr., Maria Quinones Sanchez and Kenyatta Johnson. The issue has reached a tipping point in manyPhiladelphianeighborhoods where riders run recklessly throughout streets and sidewalks, often ignoring stop signs and traffic lights.  In addition to the public safety threat, complaints about the extreme level of noise skyrocket over the summer months. “Neighbors and community leaders have quite frankly had enough.  This is one of those quality of life issues that touch a nerve with people in the heart of their community,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “Factor in that young people are losing their lives and we have a real public safety crisis on our hands.  Communities and families need to know that we hear them and are looking for solutions.” According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 521 deaths have been recorded inPhiladelphiafrom 1982-2010 as a result of ATVs; from 1982-2006, 105 deaths were of children under the age of 16. Regulation of ATVs has presented a problem for police inPhiladelphiadue to the “no-chase” policy restricting police from apprehending offenders in motion.  The police have begun a campaign requesting citizens to notify the police of storage areas for illegal ATVs and of illegal riding seen in the city. Other large cities have implemented solutions to crack down on the problem.  Sting operations are conducted in New York City and in Baltimore, gas stations are banned from providing fuel to ATVs and parents could be jailed for allowing a minor to ride.  The Councilwoman intends to work in concert with police, concerned citizens and community leaders to ensure a collaborative effort resulting in a series of recommendations and best practices that make sense for Philadelphia.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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ENERGY BENCHMARKING BILL PASSES! 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday June 21, 2012 –Philadelphia City Council today passed Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s Energy Benchmarking Bill.  The legislation, co-sponsored by Councilman James F. Kenney, establishes a system of benchmarking and reporting of energy and water usage data for non-residential buildings with 50,000 square feet or more. The bill will implement an online Citywide program where property owners, tenants, prospective purchasers, lessees and the public at large can compare energy and water usage among comparable buildings.  Property owners will find out how their buildings stack up to comparable buildings providing the tools necessary to formulate best practices and discover savings. “Step by step, we are taking action to makePhiladelphiatheGreenestCityinAmerica,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, Chair of City Council’s Committee on the Environment.  “Passage of this bill checks off yet another significant item of the Mayor’s Greenworks Philadelphia Agenda and moves us that much closer toward our collective goal—a more sustainable city and planet for our kids.” Councilwoman Reynolds Brown has worked in concert with a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Building Owners and Managers Association of Philadelphia and PECO to ensure and gather input from all sides. Philadelphia now joins Austin,TX, New York,NY,San Francisco,CA,Seattle,WA and the District of Columbia, who have already passed energy benchmarking laws.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438

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COUNCILWOMAN INTRODUCES “PHILLY FIRST” LOCAL BIDDING PREFERENCE ORDINANCE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA,PA) Thursday, May 10, 2012 – Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill changing how the City awards contracts by increasing the bidding preference for Philadelphia owned firms from 5% to 10%.  In cases where outside companies closely outbid those based in Philadelphia, this measure will help tilt the scale to the local firm, assuring that Philadelphia taxpayer dollars are helping support Philadelphia companies, creating jobs and growing the local economy. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown has noticed a consistent pattern during city budget hearings where large scale contracts are being awarded to companies outside of Philadelphia.  “We need to ensure that when we spend the money of Philadelphia taxpayers on goods and services that our priority is to create more new jobs for Philadelphians.  We purchase millions of dollars worth of goods and services from companies outside of Philadelphia when we have local citizens who stand ready, equipped and willing to do the work,” said Reynolds Brown.  “The ideal model for generating more revenue for the City is not raising taxes, it is creating more taxpayers through local job creation.  I hope that this measure will keep more of Philadelphia’s money in Philadelphia.” The bill was co-sponsored by Councilman W. Wilson Goode, Jr., Chair of Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, and longtime advocate for fairness in local contracting.

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COUNCILWOMAN CALLS FOR MORE WOMEN ON EXECUTIVE BOARDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) March 8, 2012 – Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution calling for hearings on the role of women on Executive Boards of Directors throughoutPhiladelphia. With the backdrop of Women’s History Month, the Councilwoman seeks to start a dialogue about how in 2012, women still represent only 10% of executive board seats in Philadelphia; 16% of board seats nationally, account for only 17% of members of Congress and take home 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. “With this resolution, we will hold hearings and ask corporate leaders and members of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to come testify in this chamber and answer the question: ‘Do you have women at the table?’” says Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.  “In politics, there is an old adage that ‘if you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu.’  Over the past month, we have seen what happens when women are not at the table.  We see public commentary that amounts to an assault on women’s rights take center stage, when it does not even belong in the theater.” The hearing will take place in the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, chaired by Councilman W. Wilson Goode,  Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is eager to work with Councilman Goode and President Darrell Clarke to schedule the hearing quickly.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438.

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COUNCILWOMAN PROPOSES ADVERTISING ON SCHOOL BUSES TO INCREASE REVENUE 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) February 2, 2012 – For the second week in a row, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has introduced a bill to generate new, unconventional revenue streams for the School District of Philadelphia without raising property taxes.  Her proposal allows for advertising on the side of Philadelphia school buses, with the revenue generated dedicated to the School District of Philadelphia. Much like the Extended Bar Hours legislation introduced last week, this bill is contingent on cooperation fromHarrisburg, as school buses are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).  The Councilwoman is working closely with legislators in the State Capitol and PennDOT to introduce the enabling legislation. “The idea for the bill came from our neighbors inNew Jersey, who passed similar legislation in 2011.  Property owners have made it clear to City Council over the last 2 budget cycles that they are tapped out.  To the extent that we can find new additional dollars for our schools without raising property taxes, I believe we owe it to our students and taxpayers to have that conversation,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. The bill contains provisions which restrict certain types of advertising promoting alcohol, tobacco, sexual content or material that is political or campaign related.  Along with the State of New Jersey,Philadelphia would join Arizona,Colorado,New Mexico,Tennessee,Texas and Utah in approving similar legislation. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown continues to explore and research additional revenue generating measures for the School District Philadelphia, stating “I intend to make this continued quest to identify nontraditional solutions for our schools a centerpiece of my work in this new term in City Council.”

 For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438.

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COUNCILWOMAN PROPOSES EXTENDED BAR HOURS TO INCREASE REVENUE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PHILADELPHIA) January 26, 2012 – Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill allowing bars in Philadelphia to serve alcohol an additional hour, until 3:00 am with the additional liquor tax revenue generated in the final hour dedicated to the School District of Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has the authority to designate such operating hours; therefore, the bill is contingent on enabling legislation passing the State General Assembly inHarrisburg.  In cooperation with Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, State Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown plans to introduce a bill in the State House of Representatives which would grantPhiladelphiasuch authority. “Education is the single biggest indicator of success for children and youth and the greatest deterrent from crime.  In this day and age of budget shortfalls and declining education funding, we must think of creative solutions, thinking outside the box and exhaust unconventional avenues of revenue,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. In FY ’10, liquor taxes generated $42 million for the City of Philadelphia; based on these figures, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown’s bill is estimated to generate upwards of an additional $5 million annually for the School District of Philadelphia. Philadelphia would join other major east coast cities that serve alcohol past 2:00 am, including New York,NY Washington, D.C.,Atlanta,GA and Miami,FL.

For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438.

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