COUNCILMEMBER GILMORE RICHARDSON CALLS FOR HEARING ON PHILADELPHIA’S WASTE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large), chair of City Council’s Committee on the Environment, introduced a resolution in Council this week to hold hearings evaluating the environmental justice impacts of the City’s waste management practices and potential alternatives to the City’s contract with Covanta Delaware Valley LP.
Covanta Delaware Valley, located in Chester, Delaware County, is the nation’s largest incinerator, and is the primary polluter in the City of Chester. Chester is recognized as an environmental justice community by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Chester’s population is 72 percent Black with more than one in four residents living below the poverty line.
“Throughout my first term in Council, I’ve pushed for a whole government approach to addressing climate change and environmental justice,” said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson. “As the initial term of our contract with Covanta in Chester is ending, it is a good time to revisit and reimagine Philadelphia’s waste management practices. We must work towards reaffirming our City’s commitment to our Zero Waste goals in a way that centers the voices most impacted by our decisions.”
She added, “As chair of City Council’s Committee on the Environment, I am calling for a public hearing to do just that. I look forward to hearing from those with lived experience of environmental injustice and experts in this area on how we can move forward.”
According to a 2019 report by the Tishman Environment and Design Center at New York City’s New School, nearly 80 percent of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) incinerators in the United States are located in environmental justice communities.
Research from the Tishman Environment and Design Center also shows that in addition to releasing significant greenhouse gases, MSW incinerators are large emitters of toxic air pollutants that are linked to countless health problems including: asthma, high blood pressure, miscarriage, and lung disease.
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF CITY WORKERS SUBMITS REPORT OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Councilmember Brian O’Neill (10th District) introduced the resolution on behalf of Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) The resolution accepts the Report of the Special Committee on Recruitment & Retention of Municipal Workers.
The Special Committee was formed earlier by City Council to address the current crisis of vacancies in city government. Several thousand city jobs are unfilled, leading to chronic problems in city services delivery to citizens and taxpayers.
The Special Committee’s Report contains numerous recommendations and findings, including:
- The need for a comprehensive review of the competitiveness of city pay
- Expanding parental leave for city employees, and
- Developing a clear marketing plan to market Philadelphia as an employer of choice
“We need to do a competitive analysis of other municipalities that are really cleaning our clocks with respect to salaries for municipal employees,” said Council President Clarke after the resolution to accept the special committee report was introduced. “There is much more work to be done to fill those 4,000 positions. This is a template to start that process.”
COUNCILMEMBER THOMAS INTRODUCES RESOLUTION TO CREATE AUTHORITY TO MANAGE REHAB OF CITY SCHOOL BUILDINGS
Councilmember Isaiah Thomas (At Large) introduced a resolution Thursday in Council to create an independent authority to raise funds and manage a large-scale revitalization and rebuilding of city public schools.
Thomas, chairman of Council’s Education Committee, introduced a resolution to hold hearings on the topic, and he said he wants to jumpstart the process to piggyback on a large state budget surplus in Harrisburg.
Thomas and other colleagues want the Commonwealth to give the city $5 billion over five years for improvements to school buildings across Pennsylvania, with a major portion earmarked for Philadelphia schools.
“This issue is an emergency,” said Thomas. In Council on Thursday, Thomas specifically thanked Council President Clarke, and former Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez, the former chair of the Education Committee, for all their prior work on the idea of forming an independent authority to govern the rehabilitation of crumbling Philadelphia school buildings. “We wouldn’t be where we are on this issue except for your and Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez’s efforts,” Thomas said.
SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA…
Today, 9 members of City Council joined together in calling for increased funding for the Office of Worker Protections. It’s up to us to make sure Philly workers are protected from abuse, wage theft, and exploitation. https://t.co/DXzyYV45qa
— Councilmember Kendra Brooks (@KendraPHL) April 26, 2023
IN OTHER NEWS
Council Approves Resolution Urging State Legislature to Approve Commonsense Gun Laws for Pennsylvania. The resolution, offered last week by Council Majority Leader Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), urged the PA House and legislature to approve lost or stolen handgun reporting; a bill closing a narrow loophole on background checks relating to rifle sales at gun shows; and legislation regarding emergency risk protection orders.
In a key development, the PA House Judiciary Committee this week reported each of those bills out of committee. A full vote must take place in the House and then the Senate.
OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK
Committee on the Environment 4-24-2023
Committee on Housing Neighborhood Development and the Homeless 4-24-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – Register of Wills, City Controller, City Commissioners 4-25-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – SEPTA, Water Department, Defenders Association 4-25-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – Department Callbacks 4-26-2023
Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 4-27-2023
The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 4, 2023 at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia City Hall, Room 400 and will air on Xfinity Ch. 64, Fios Channel 40 and stream at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch.
Featured Photo: Jared Piper/PHLCouncil