Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown – Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Councilwoman Calls for Zoning Bonuses for Environmental Construction

(PHILADELPHIA) June 4, 2015 – Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment introduced a bill to provide floor area and height zoning bonuses for developers who meet Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Currently, zoning bonuses exist for those meeting LEED Gold and Platinum. The bill is co-sponsored by First District Councilman Mark Squilla.

LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Categories that earn LEED points include materials and resources, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, location and transportation, indoor environmental quality and innovation among others.
Meeting Silver LEED certification would grant an additional 12 feet to the currently zoned building height maximum in addition to increased floor area. Already in the Philadelphia Code are height incentives to meet LEED Platinum (36 ft.) and LEED Gold (24 ft.). The amended table in the Code would be as follows:

tablegraphic

“We are serious about achieving Mayor Nutter’s goal of becoming the Greenest City in America, and therefore are consistently on the lookout for new, innovative ways to incentivize going green,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “Developers are always in search of more space and we as a City Council are interested in seeing environmentally responsible and sustainable construction, so this is a win-win scenario for both parties.”

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Council Votes to Make Permanent Office of LGBT Affairs

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday, May 14, 2015 – Today, City Council passed a bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown to make permanent the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs.

The bill, which requires a change to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter must be signed by the Mayor and then must be ratified by voters in the November general election. The ballot question would read as follows:

“Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs, headed by a Director of LGBT Affairs?”

“Philadelphia has an international reputation as a City that both celebrates diversity and has no tolerance for intolerance. This bill offers the LGBT community a permanent seat and voice at the table,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “To a community who too often faces discrimination, it is imperative for them to have a direct line to the Mayor and City Council. Making this office permanent sends a continued message that, while we have more work to do, we are absolutely up to the challenge.”

“When I became Mayor, I was proud to establish the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs and appoint the late Gloria Casarez as its first Director,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Making this Office permanent under the City of Philadelphia charter ensures that the LGBT community will continue to be represented in City government, and that the good work done to advance LGBT issues over the last seven years will carry on well into the future.”

“I am extremely proud of the bill passed today by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and her colleagues, and grateful for her continued dedication to making Philadelphia a city that values and protects all of its citizens,” said Helen Fitzpatrick, Director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs. “Today’s bill is an opportunity for Philadelphia to continue to lead the nation toward equality for all. The bill represents far more than a change to the charter. It symbolizes our ongoing commitment as a City, and as a society, to the equal and fair treatment of our LGBT citizens.”

Councilwoman Reynolds Brown has a track record of introducing and securing passage of legislation that positively impacts the LGBT community, including a 2011 bill to require city contractors to offer domestic partner benefits, a 2012 resolution that led to the removal of gender stickers from SEPTA trans passes which were of great concern to the transgender community and the 2014 Hate Crime Bill of which she was the lead sponsor.

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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Council Passes Bills to Combat Trash and Littering

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday May 7, 2015 –Today, City Council passed two bills introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown to combat littering and illegal dumping in the City of Philadelphia.

The first, Bill No. 150198 would increase the availability and strategic placement of trash cans and recycling bins in or within 10 feet of any business selling fresh or pre-packaged food, from corner stores to large retailers.

“Call it the ‘Disneyland Theory.’ When designing Disneyland, Walt Disney analyzed guests in other theme parks to find out how many steps a guest would walk without encountering a trash can before littering; he calculated an average of 30 steps. So when you go to a Disney park, most trash cans are no more than 30 steps a part. It is simple, but makes so much sense,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown.

The second, Bill No. 150217 would provide tenants in buildings with ten or more units with a place to store trash and recyclables outside their apartments. Currently, the Philadelphia Code is ambiguous about whether there is in fact a requirement to provide such accommodations.

Given that the majority of City residents are covered by a once per week trash collection cycle, apartment dwellers without common space provided by the landlord are forced to either keep trash for an entire week in their unit, or illegally place them on the street, or in the trash receptacle of a neighbor or business. Weeklong trash build-up in apartment units also contributes to rodent and pest control issues.

She added, “The intent of these bills is to get to the root of the issue, which in most cases is about a lack of access to trash cans and recycling bins, especially when we move beyond the boundaries of Center City. As a former block captain, I reject the theory that our citizens want to live in trash strewn areas and do not care about the beautification of their neighborhoods. We must do our part to make the disposal of trash and especially recyclables easy and accessible.”

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

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Councilwoman Introduces School District Sponsorship Tax Credit

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday April 16, 2015 – Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the School District Sponsorship Credit Bill, a tax credit aimed at generating private sector funding for the School District of Philadelphia.

The bill offers a one dollar credit off of the Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) for every five donated to the School District of Philadelphia through a “contribution agreement.” The business must agree to contribute a set amount of money to the District. For budget planning purposes, the tax credit would be initially capped at five million dollars per fiscal year, beginning with FY 16, (July 1, 2015-June 30 2016) with contributions taken on a “first come-first served” basis.

“In our ongoing effort to generate new innovative school funding solutions, we offer this exciting opportunity for businesses to lower their tax burden by contributing to our public schools. Simply put, if you donate one million dollars to the School District of Philadelphia, you will see a $200,000 reduction on your business taxes” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “This bill allows us to turn five million General Fund dollars into twenty five million School District dollars with the help of our business community.

She continued, “We consistently hear the plea from business leaders that education is the number one challenge facing our City. Philadelphia businesses men and women want a pipeline of trained and capable graduates who are ready and equipped to join the workforce and ultimately grow our tax base. Finally, it is my hope that we max out the one million dollar tax credit, and would then look toward raising the cap.”

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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Philadelphia City Council Calls on President Obama to Put a Woman on Twenty Dollar Bill

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday April 16, 2015 – Today, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown urging President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order to the United States Treasury to put a woman on the twenty dollar bill by 2020, marking the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment,granting women the right to vote.

The movement is being led by Women on 20’s, an organization founded by Barbara Ortiz Howard. Women on 20’s worked with a group of prominent women historians to select the original list of 100 names. Those names, through a series of selection processes, including a national primary where citizens could cast their vote on the website www.womenon20s.org, have since been narrowed down to a list of four:

Rosa Parks, recognized by Congress as the “First Lady of Civil Rights,” she challenged racial segregation by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her arrest, and the ensuing Montgomery Bus Boycott became symbols in the struggle for racial equality and Civil Rights in the United States;

Harriet Tubman, born a slave, she fled North to freedom, later making 19 trips back to the South as an Underground Railroad conductor, leading some 300 slaves to freedom. A nurse during the Civil War, she served the Union army as a scout and spy. She was active in the women’s suffrage movement after the war;

Eleanor Roosevelt, acknowledged for redefining the role of First Lady. Used her newspaper column, radio and speeches to champion civil and women’s rights, often in opposition to her husband FDR’s policies. As a UN delegate and “First Lady of the World,” she drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

Wilma Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and first elected female Chief of a Native nation in modern times. Her 10-year administration, from 1985-1995, revitalized the Nation through extensive community development, self-help, education and healthcare programs for the Cherokee Nation’s 300,000 citizens.

Parks, Tubman and Roosevelt were selected through the primary voting process, while Mankiller was advanced to the final round because of strong public feedback that the public should have the choice of a Native American to replace President Andrew Jackson, particularly given his role in the Trail of Tears.

“I love the idea,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “Generations of girls grow up absorbing these subtle ideas about gender roles, like seeing only men on the money, and only men have been President. It makes a difference. I would also note that if you conduct an informal survey, most of the pushback comes from men.”

She continued,”My vote was for Madam CJ Walker, who was the first female self-made millionaire in the United States, however, she did not make the cut in the voting process, therefore, I am leaning toward Rosa Parks. How fabulous would it be if we could put our first African American and our first woman on the money at the same time? It would be historic.”

Ultimately, when the final candidate is selected, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown will write a letter to President Obama urging him to put the winner on the twenty dollar bill by Executive Order.

“The President is absolutely able to make this happen by Executive Order. I do not yet know if he will, but I would submit that if any President would be the one to break the gender barrier on our paper currency, President Barack Obama would be the one to do it.”

The United States Treasury has printed a total of 12 different paper bills featuring George Washington ($1), Thomas Jefferson ($2), Abraham Lincoln ($5), Alexander Hamilton ($10), Andrew Jackson ($20), Ulysses S. Grant ($50), Ben Franklin ($100), William McKinley ($500), Grover Cleveland ($1000), James Madison ($5000), Salmon Chase ($10000), Woodrow Wilson ($100,000); and

Women have only appeared on lower circulated, less popular metal coins including the Susan B. Anthony one dollar coin which was minted 800 million times before being taken out of circulation. The Susan B. Anthony coin was unpopular with the public, due in part to the fact that in size and coloring, it too closely resembled the quarter. The Susan B. Anthony was replaced by the Sacagawea golden coin, of which only 3 million remain in circulation, and are most frequently used in vending machines for food and mass transit tokens.

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

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City Council Doubles Green Roof Tax Credit

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) March 26, 2015 – Today, Philadelphia City Council passed Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s bill to double the City’s Green Roofs Tax Credit.

A green roof is defined as a roof that supports living vegetation and includes a synthetic, high quality waterproof membrane, drainage layer, soil layer and lightweight medium plants. According to the Philadelphia Water Department, green roofs have been proven to absorb and permanently retain up to 50 percent of the rainfall they receive and ultimately extend the lifetime of the roof by 100-200 percent.

Currently, the Green Roofs Tax Credit allows an applicant to receive a 25 percent credit off of their Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) liability for approved expenses related to the installation of a green roof. The Councilwoman’s bill would increase this credit to 50 percent with a cap of $100,000. Therefore, if a business spends $40,000 on a green roof, they would currently receive a $10,000 credit off of their BIRT liability. This
bill would double that credit to $20,000.

“Although we have a Green Roof Tax Credit in place, we discovered that in the last four years, only seven people applied and of those applicants, four were approved. The numbers do not lie; they are telling us that we have significant work to do getting the word out and incentivizing the construction of these roofs. I hope this bill encourages more business owners to step forward, take advantage of this credit and go green,” said
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.

She continued, “Green roofs bring a sizable value to the property owner and the city. They control storm water, help curtail flooding, grow fresh fruits and vegetables, pump clean air back into the atmosphere and save property owners money by extending the life of the roof. They also contribute to the Mayor’s big picture goal of making Philadelphia the Greenest City in America.”

The City of Philadelphia is among twelve other U.S. cities, including New York, NY, Chicago, IL, and Washington, D.C., which offer monetary incentives for the construction of green roofs and/or storm water management systems. The bill will go into effect July 1, 2015.

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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Councilwoman Moves to Make Permanent Office of LGBT Affairs

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday March 19, 2015 – Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill in City Council to make permanent the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, co-sponsored by all Councilmembers.

The bill requires a change to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter and must be passed by City Council, signed by the Mayor and then must be ratified by voters in the November general election. The ballot question would read as follows:

“Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs, headed by a Director of LGBT Affairs?”

“Philadelphia has an international reputation as a City that both celebrates diversity and has no tolerance for intolerance. This bill offers the LGBT community a permanent seat and voice at the table,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “To a community who too often faces discrimination, it is imperative for them to have a direct line to the Mayor and City Council. Making this office permanent sends a continued message that, while we have more work to do, we are absolutely up to the challenge.”

“When I became Mayor, I was proud to establish the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs and appoint the late Gloria Casarez as its first Director,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Making this Office permanent under the City of Philadelphia charter ensures that the LGBT community will continue to be represented in City government, and that the good work done to advance LGBT issues over the last seven years will carry on well into the future.”

“I am extremely proud of the bill introduced today by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, and grateful for her continued dedication to making Philadelphia a city that values and protects all of its citizens,” said Helen Fitzpatrick, Director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs. “Today’s bill is an opportunity for Philadelphia to continue to lead the nation toward equality for all. The bill represents far more than a change to the charter. It symbolizes our ongoing commitment as a City, and as a society, to the equal and fair treatment of our LGBT citizens.”

Councilwoman Reynolds Brown has a track record of introducing and securing passage of legislation that positively impacts the LGBT community, including a 2011 bill to require city contractors to offer domestic partner benefits, a 2012 resolution that led to the removal of gender stickers from SEPTA trans passes which were of great concern to the transgender community and the 2014 Hate Crime Bill of which she was the lead sponsor. The bill will have a hearing in City Council’s Committee on Law and Government.

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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City Council Passes Expanded Energy Benchmarking Policy

(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday March 5, 2015 –Today, City Council passed the Benchmarking Energy and Water Use Bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the Committee on the Environment. The bill would expand the City of Philadelphia’s current requirement of energy and water usage data reporting to include all buildings of 50,000 indoor square feet or more.

In 2012, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown secured passage of a bill requiring energy benchmarking for commercial highrise buildings, making Philadelphia the sixth city in the nation to adopt this policy. This bill seeks to expand the participation requirement to include all buildings of 50,000 indoor square feet or more, which would include residential apartment buildings and condominiums.

“If you learned that your neighbors’ electric bills were all significantly lower than yours, would you want to know how they are achieving these savings? That is the crux of our expanded Energy Benchmarking Bill,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “We know that when citizens have facts, they often make different and better decisions about how they spend their money. This bill will allow building owners and managers to determine how energy efficient they are when compared to similar sized buildings, and use that data to achieve savings. Our ultimate goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, energy consumption, and advance Philadelphia’s reputation as one of the Greenest Cities in America.”

“Through two years of implementing the benchmarking program for commercial buildings, we’ve learned valuable information about the impact of building energy usage on our businesses and on our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia. “Over 90 percent of covered buildings have reported data, which is now being publicly disclosed through Philadelphia’s open data network and through our new data visualization tool. This amendment will cover an additional 800 buildings in a growing and vital sector of Philadelphia’s built environment. We look forward to continuing to work with City Council on advancing work on this important issue.”

Councilwoman Reynolds Brown has worked in concert with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to ensure that the bill reflects the Mayor’s Greenworks Agenda. Philadelphia is among many major cities to have adopted similar legislation including Austin, TX, Boston and Cambridge, MA, Chicago, IL, Minneapolis, MN New York, NY, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, and the District of Columbia.

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has worked with local geospatial analysis firm Azavea to create a visual mapping tool for the results from the second year of Philadelphia’s energy benchmarking program for large commercial buildings. The result is a new user friendly web-based visualization platform available at http://visualization.phillybuildingbenchmarking.com.

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


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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City Council Passes Bill to Create Commission for Women

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) February 26, 2015 –Today, City Council passed a bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown that amends the Home Rule Charter to establish a Commission for Women.

The Commission would have 27 volunteer members: 10 appointed by the Mayor and 17 members, each appointed by a member of City Council. The Commission will be led by an Executive Director who must be approved by a two thirds vote of Commissioners. The Mayor will have the power to appoint an Interim Director no sooner than January 5, 2016, along with setting the salary for the Interim Director. Once a permanent Executive Director is confirmed, the Commission will set the salary of the Director and appropriate staff, all subject to available funds.

The Commission for Women would create pathways of opportunity for women and girls in Philadelphia, facilitating collaboration and partnership between women, city government and the business community. The Charter change would appear as a question on the May 19, 2015 municipal primary election ballot. The question would read as follows:

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation of a Commission for Women to be charged with promoting civic, educational and economic policies for women and providing advice and recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on policies and programs that advance equal rights and opportunities for women in the City?

“This is a historic opportunity to bring women to the table of City government in an official leadership capacity,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the only woman elected to an At-Large Council seat since 1999. “Women continue to earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Despite representing 52.8 percent of the City population, women occupy only 11 percent of corporate board seats in Philadelphia, and women of color represent less than one percent. These numbers have been stagnant for decades, and it is time to pursue more aggressive change. As an official arm of City government, the Commission for Women would provide the foundation for change including building key relationships and helping to create equitable opportunities for women at all levels of the Philadelphia workforce.”

Thirty-one major American cities currently have commissions on women, including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Alexandria and more. They assist their local governments to create resources and solutions for issues affecting women and children, including but not limited to human trafficking, domestic violence, pay equity, and discrimination. Ultimately, the Philadelphia Commission for Women would work towards enhancing the quality of life for women, their families, and their communities.

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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Councilwoman Calls Hearings on “Yes Means Yes” Sexual Assault Policies

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) December 11, 2014—Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown called for hearings to investigate how Philadelphia colleges and universities might move toward adopting “Yes Means Yes” policies on sexual assault. The hearings are in response to the recent passage of California Bill SB-967 which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 28, 2014.

The bill marks a dramatic shift in what constitutes consent. In the past, the standard has required victims to proactively say “no” and or demonstrate verbal or physical resistance, thus the refrain, “No Means No.” This law requires California higher educational institutions to adopt an “affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by a complainant,” or risk losing state funding, referred to commonly as “Yes Means Yes.” Perceived lack of resistance, unconsciousness or inebriation is no longer a viable defense for an
accused attacker.

The bill defines “affirmative consent” as follows:

An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity. “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.

“Our current system is rigged to protect the attacker and blame, embarrass and discredit the victim. We need to have an honest, frank dialogue about how we ‘un-stack’ the deck against victims of sexual assault,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “We know that one in five women on college campuses will be the victim of sexual assault. More and more brave victims are coming forward, only to find out that their school does not have their back, or wants to sweep it under the rug. The time for that way of thinking has expired. It is
time for us to have the conversation with higher education leaders out in the open, for everyone to hear.”

On May 1, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights released a list of higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints that included Ivy League institutions like Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth, along with five Pennsylvania Schools: Temple University, Franklin and Marshall College, Penn State University, Swarthmore College and Carnegie Mellon University. The Department confirms that over 90 colleges and universities are under investigation for possible violations of Title IX, which bans discrimination based on
gender in all education programs and activities by any institution that receives federal funding.

The bill will have a hearing in the Council Committee on Education. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown will extend an invitation to the Presidents of all colleges and universities in the City of Philadelphia.

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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Hate Crime Bill Passes City Council

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) October 30, 2014–Today, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed the Hate Crime Bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Councilman Jim Kenney. The bill adds a new chapter to the Philadelphia Code to provide for additional penalties for criminal conduct motivated by hatred regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities as defined in the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance, all of which are not covered by existing state hate crime laws.

The bill is in response to the September 11, 2014 assault of a same-sex couple in Center City, where the assailants allegedly hurled anti-gay slurs. It was later reported that the District Attorney could not prosecute the attack as a hate crime because no such protections currently exist.

“Philadelphia is known all over the world as a city that celebrates and values diversity and we will not allow a few thugs to tarnish that reputation,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “It is shameful that this legislation is necessary in 2014, but as Councilman Kenney and I have demonstrated in the past, we are proud to do it.”

She continued, “We are not brought into this world with hate in our hearts; that is something learned along the way. This is a teaching moment not only for the bullies out there, but for the parents of bullies. We all have a responsibility to protect one another. My heart hurts for all people who are targeted because of who they are. No one has a right to diminish someone else’s shine, and our message today is, if you think it is appropriate to hurt someone with hate in your heart, there will be a price to pay.”

“Nobody should feel robbed of their sense of safety, regardless of their background or what neighborhood they live in. Until the Commonwealth comes to its senses and treats these offenses as the hate crimes they are, Philadelphia City Council must do all it can to protect our citizens,” said Councilman Jim Kenney.

The bill defines a hate crime as follows:

CHAPTER 10-2200. HATE CRIMES.
§ 10-2201. Definitions.

(1) Hate crime. Commission of an offense under Title 18, Chapter 25 (relating to criminal homicide), Chapter 27 (relating to assault), Chapter 29 (relating to kidnapping), Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses), Chapter 33 (relating to arson, criminal mischief and other property destruction), or Section 3503 (relating to criminal trespass) of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, against an individual or group of individuals or the property of an individual or group, accompanied by malicious intent as defined in subsection (2) hereof.

(2) Malicious intent. The intent to commit any act, the commission of which is a necessary element of any offense referred to in subsection (1) above, motivated by hatred toward the actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or disability, as such terms are defined by § 9-1102 of this Code, of another individual or group of individuals. § 10-2202. Prohibited Conduct.

(1) No person shall commit a hate crime against another individual or group of individuals. § 10-2203. Penalties.

(1) Violation of this Chapter is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to ninety (90) days, and a monetary fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000).

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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Councilwoman Calls for Hearings on Illegal Dumping

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) September 11, 2014 –Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown called for investigative hearings on illegal dumping, sometimes known as “short dumping.”

Illegal dumping occurs when citizens dispose of personal garbage in public spaces. The problem ranges from disposing of household garbage bags in public trash receptacles to dumping large scale items like mattresses, refrigerators, abandoned vehicles and tires in vacant lots and parkland throughout the city.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the Philadelphia Streets Department spent $1,400,000 cleaning and hauling away 14,000 tons of illegally dumped trash and tires. Estimated costs to clean up illegal dumpsites can range from $600 to over $1,000 per ton for clean up and removal. Small business owners, who typically pay for trash removal services by the pound, are also impacted when household garbage is illegally thrown into their dumpsters, increasing expenses.

Illegal dumping negatively impacts neighborhood property values, creates liability for property owners and creates physical hazards for individuals and pets. Furthermore, it attracts disease-spreading rodents and mosquitoes, such as those carrying the deadly West Nile Virus.

“Clean communities are proud communities,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “As a former block captain, I have seen it first hand, when we allow this kind of activity to flourish, it sends the wrong message to those who are littering, that ‘it’s ok, we can get away with it.’ My office has received complaints on the issue of illegal dumping for years and citizens feel like their voices are not being heard. Clearly, this activity is happening for a reason, and it is our job to figure out the how and why, and ultimately implement a better
solution.” The hearing will be scheduled in the City Council Committee on Streets, Chaired by Councilman Mark Squilla.

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fuel Standards Bill Passes Philadelphia City Council

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) June 19, 2014 –City Council passed a bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment, to update commercial fuel oil and emission standards in the City of Philadelphia.

Section 3-207 of the Philadelphia Code, titled “Sale of Fuel Oil” has not been amended since April 1, 1978. The legislation sets the following new limits on the percent of sulfur by weight that can be sold, and the permissible emissions of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2).

New rates would be set as follows: (Click to enlarge)

Fuel standards

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SO2 emissions are linked to major health concerns including effects on breathing, respiratory illness, alteration in pulmonary defenses, aggravation of existing cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease like bronchitis or emphysema. Furthermore, SO2 is harmful to the environment, linked to acid rain, pollution of lakes and streams, accelerated corrosion of monuments and buildings and reduced visibility.

“The passage of this bill signals Philadelphia’s continued role as a leader among cities in the area of the environment and sustainability,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “We have reached a tipping point in our culture where citizens, especially young people, are demanding action on a host of issues like clean air, clean water, recycling and the reduction of our carbon footprint. I am very proud to be a part of this critically important movement.”

She further noted, “The Obama Administration’s recently released National Climate Assessment spells out the facts: air pollution is directly contributing to climate change and a host of alarming health issues affecting our most vulnerable citizens. Asthma is on the rise among young people, while senior citizens are experiencing a host of health issues directly related to air pollution. This bill offers us an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the health of our citizens, our city and our planet.”

In his May 31, 2014 weekly address, President Obama urged action on air pollution and climate change, stating the following: “Earlier this month hundreds of scientists declared that climate change is no longer a distant threat. It has moved firmly into the present. Its cost can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, lost homes and businesses, and higher prices for food, insurance and rebuilding.”

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bike Share Passes Philadelphia City Council

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) June 19, 2014 –Today, City Council passed Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s bill authorizing Bicycle Transit Systems to plan and operate a bicycle sharing program in the City of Philadelphia, and Bicycle to provide bicycles, stations and technology platforms for the system. Bicycle Transit Systems is a Philadelphia based business that has experience operating bike sharing programs in Washington, D.C., Boston and Chicago.

This bill is the result of over 6 years of collaborative research and planning with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation, Bike Share Philadelphia and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. In January 2008, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown called for a joint hearing of City Council’s Committees on the Environment and Transportation to investigate the creation of a Public Use Bicycle Program.

“I am thrilled with the passage of this bill. Bike sharing is a win for Philadelphia on so many levels: health and wellness, tourism and hospitality, the environment and sustainability and so much more,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment. “There is a huge opportunity for innovation; by studying what has worked in other cities, Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to implement the most comprehensive, effective bike sharing program in the nation.” She continued, “I applaud the work of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Bike Share Philadelphia to expand this program beyond the walls of Center City, into our neighborhoods to offer citizens this new, exciting transportation option.”

“Council’s action today is another important step forward in advancing plans to bring bike share to Philadelphia. My team is ready to begin planning the launch of a world class bike share system,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The launch of our system is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to join a growing trend by sponsoring the system and aligning their brand to sustainability, wellness, innovation and enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Philadelphia and visitors. Every sponsorship investment will support the bike share system and contribute to creating a more vibrant, mobile and healthy Philadelphia.”

In 2013, WalkScore.com ranked Philadelphia as the 4th “Most Bike-able City” in the nation. Philadelphia would join 40 other cities across the United States with bike sharing programs including New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, San Diego and Portland, where bicycle transit is embraced as an alternative form of transportation.

The program will launch in spring 2015 with a 60 station/600 bike system in Center City, University City, North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia and the Navy Yard. Business and communities interested in bike share should visit www.phila.gov/bikeshare.

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Council to Regulate Automated Purchasing Machines

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) October 9, 2014–Today, City Council passed a bill sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown to regulate Automated Purchasing Machines (APMs) by requiring City Council approval for future installation of the kiosks.

The legislation is an amended version of a bill the Councilwoman introduced in 2013 which called for an outright ban. The bill grandfathers in two machines in the Philadelphia Mills Mall (formerly Franklin Mills) operated by ecoATM, the largest manufacturer of APMs in the world. According to their website, EcoATMs allow consumers to, “Sell your phone or other device by placing it in the ecoATM kiosk, and we’ll tell you how much it’s worth. What happens next? You get instant cash.”

After meetings with a number of stakeholders, including representatives from ecoATM, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown agreed to a compromise allowing the machines in Philadelphia, but requiring approval by City Council all future machine installations.

“Last year, we discovered that Philadelphia has the highest/stolen phone rate in the nation, which was alarming. As a result, we heard a number of legitimate concerns, particularly among colleges and universities about the proliferation of these machines. The amended bill allows citizens and community groups the opportunity to have a voice in the process through public hearings and ultimately allows City Council to have the final say,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.

She continued, “Ultimately, we reached a compromise because I was impressed with the willingness of ecoATM to fully cooperate with local law enforcement. They have made it exceedingly clear that cell phone theft is bad for their business, and they want to partner with us to curb this problem. Furthermore, as Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment, I am also struck with the important opportunity to curb e-waste, which is the fastest growing stream of waste in the nation. We only have one planet and this presents a mechanism to keep potentially millions of electronic devices out of our landfills.”

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Council Authorizes Permanent Office of Sustainability

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) May 8, 2014 – Today, Philadelphia City Council passed Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s bill to make permanent the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The office, headed by Executive Director Katherine Gajewski, was established in 2008 and has worked closely with the Councilwoman’s office to implement Mayor Nutter’s Greenworks Philadelphia. As a result, the City of Philadelphia has emerged as one of the Greenest Cities in America.

The legislation amends the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, requiring the following question to appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot:

“Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of
Sustainability, headed by a Director of Sustainability?”

The ordinance defines the official functions of the Office of Sustainability as:

(a) Develop and coordinate the implementation of policies and programs to meet the City’s sustainability goals.

(b) Create periodic sustainability plans for the City, including metrics and indicators for municipal and citywide goals related to sustainability matters, which may include energy use, air and water quality, greenhouse gas accounting, solid waste management, access to open space and local and healthy food, tree canopy coverage and climate change preparedness planning.

(c) Disseminate reports setting forth a description of the goals of the City and the City’s progress in connection with such metrics and indicators.

(d) Coordinate among City departments and agencies to foster integration of sustainability goals
into operations, policies and strategic goals.

(e) Promote public awareness and education regarding environmental and sustainability issues.

“I can testify through a first-hand working relationship that the Office of Sustainability is bringing significant value to our city government and to Philadelphia. They have put Philadelphia on the map as a national leader on issues surrounding the environment and sustainability,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment. “Cities across the nation now call Philadelphia for advice and counsel on how to become more sustainable. The work of this office and their impressive track record of achieving measurable results will grow into the next administration and beyond. Making this office permanent will signal Philadelphia’s long term commitment to urban sustainability, thus assuring our city’s competitiveness.”

Over 120 cities and counties across the country have established sustainability offices and positions. Philadelphia would join other cities like New York, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and more who have moved to make these offices a permanent function of local government.

For additional information please contact the Legislative Aide, Katherine Gilmore at (215) 686-3438.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Philly First” Local Bidding Preference Bill Passes City Council

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) Thursday February 20, 2014 –Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s “Philly First” Local Bidding Preference Bill passed unanimously in Philadelphia City Council. The bill changes how the City awards contracts of $1 million or less by increasing the bidding preference for Philadelphia owned businesses from 5% to 10%. In cases where companies located outside the City of Philadelphia closely outbid local companies, this measure will help tilt the scale to the local Philadelphia
based firm.

“Multiple studies show that locally-owned businesses return more than three times the amount of revenue than chains and nationally owned businesses do to our local economy,” said Jamie Gauthier, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. “They are more likely to hire local workers and pay them a decent wage, strengthening the city’s tax and employment base; and they are more likely to support and participate in community efforts and concerns, strengthening our civic fabric.”

“There is substantial evidence for why this measure will help re-establish Philadelphia as an attractive place for businesses to flourish, grow and ultimately remain,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “This adjustment will help level the playing field for Philadelphia businesses. There is no reason to send millions of dollars in contracts to companies outside of Philadelphia when we have a 25% poverty rate and over ten percent unemployment; we have the quality products and workforce right here in Philadelphia and we are duty bound to look out for Philadelphia based businesses first.”

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.

For additional information, quotes or to request an interview with the Councilwoman, please contact
Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438 or 267-250-2925.


Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has passed meaningful legislation and supported valuable community programming that positively impacts her core issues: children and youth, women, education, small business development, arts and culture and the environment and sustainability. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is the only woman to win an At-Large Council seat since 1999.

More news at PhiladelphiaCityCouncil.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: CouncilwomanBRB!

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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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