WEEKLY REPORT: CITY EXPANDS COMMERCIAL CORRIDOR CLEANING PROGRAM; COUNCIL OVERRIDES FIRST KENNEY VETO

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CITY EXPANDS “PHL TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS” – $7 MILLION NEIGHBORHOOD CORRIDOR-CLEANING PROGRAM  TO PRODUCE OVER 200 JOBS

Flanked by newly-hired street cleaners in lime-green work shirts, City Councilmembers and Mayor Kenney this week stood at a historic shopping corner in Olney to announce the next phase of PHL Taking Care of Business, a $7 Million program approved by Council last year.

Inspired by an existing neighborhood commercial corridor cleaning effort in the 9th Council District led by Council Majority Leader Cherelle Parker, Council has approved a plan to expand commercial corridor cleaning efforts across Philadelphia.

Councilmember Parker stood at the corner of 5th Street and Olney Avenue on Wednesday, an iconic neighborhood shopping area for decades, and ticked off the elements of Taking Care of Business.

  • 203 workers hired;
  • All will earn $15/hr;
  • 85 neighborhood shopping corridors will participate in the cleaning effort – nearly double the existing number;
  • 32 Philadelphia zip codes will be impacted;
  • 39 community-based organizations will contract with the city, through PIDC; and
  • 5 minority-owned commercial cleaning companies will participate.

“Taking Care of Business won’t just clean our neighborhood shopping districts and create a sense of vibrancy and order,” Parker said at the news conference, “it is a pathway to self-sufficiency and equity” for the program’s growing workforce.

Taking Care of Business is also designed to provide workforce training and development to the workers hired to clean up neighborhood corridors – to help prepare them for more employment opportunities moving forward.

Parker was joined at the news conference by Mayor Kenney and Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District).

COUNCIL VOTES TO OVERRIDE MAYOR KENNEY’S VETO OF SOCIETY HILL ZONING BILL

In the first Council override of a mayoral veto during Mayor Kenney’s five years in office, Council voted to override the mayor’s veto of a zoning overlay bill impacting several blocks in the historic Society Hill neighborhood.

Bill No. 200094 pitted longtime Society Hill residents, worried about more high-rise developments coming to the neighborhood along the Delaware River waterfront, against affordable housing advocates, concerned that the zoning bill might be used to exclude more affordable housing in the future.

Council initially passed the zoning bill earlier this month, but the mayor returned the bill disapproved to Council last week – a rare direct mayoral veto.

To overturn a mayoral veto, Council must muster a two-thirds vote. Council achieved that standard, voting 12-4 to override the mayor’s veto. The bill now becomes law. Voting against the override were At Large Councilmembers Kendra Brooks, Helen Gym, and Isaiah Thomas, and Jamie Gauthier (3rd District).

Councilmember Mark Squilla (1st District), who sponsored the zoning bill, spoke during the session to address the perception of some that the legislation was exclusionary. “This was a four-year process with many back-and-forth compromises,” Squilla told his colleagues before the override vote. “We’re a city of neighborhoods, and the people of this neighborhood deserve a voice in what gets built there. This is essentially a two-block area that’s impacted and it does not stop development. But it ensures neighborhoods have a voice.”

COUNCILMEMBER DOMB HONORS RETIRING L&I COMMISSIONER DAVE PERRI

Dave Perri has been a fixture in city government for 39 years, rising from the Philadelphia Water Department as an engineer to his final post in local government, as Commissioner of the Department of Licenses & Inspections.

Perri is retiring at long last from city government, so Councilmember Allan Domb (At Large) introduced a resolution honoring Commissioner Perri for his multiple decades of service to the city.

In heartfelt remarks, Councilmember Domb traced through the commissioner’s long career in public service, focusing on his human side. “Every interaction with Commissioner Perri was a pleasure, he genuinely cared about your issue and about Philadelphia,” Domb said. “When a person looks back over their career, one hopes to see accomplishments. Dave Perri’s career was filled with such accomplishments for the people of Philadelphia.”

COUNCILMEMBER GYM HONORS PHILLY EDUCATOR RECENTLY NAMED “PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR”

Photo: Paul Robeson HS

Council also honored a Philadelphia high school principal who was just named Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The resolution introduced by Councilmember Gym details the career of Richard M. Gordon IV, who was appointed in 2013 as principal at Paul Robeson High School for Human Services in West Philadelphia.  Earlier that year, Robeson had been slated for closure by the School Reform Commission, but students and faculty organized to save the school from closing.

Under Principal Gordon’s leadership, he “galvanized a team of transformative educators and passionate students and promoted a school culture built on service learning, innovative education, and community engagement. He prioritized the creation of a vibrant and cohesive school culture and the provision of comprehensive opportunities for college and career readiness for his students which extended beyond the classroom.”

By 2017, Robeson High School had become the city’s most improved public high school. In 2019, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania removed Robeson High from its academic intervention list. In 2017 and 2019, the high school was honored in U.S. News & World Report as a stellar model of turnaround.

Robeson High now has a 95 percent graduation rate, as it continues to serve a 100 percent minority student population with a poverty rate of 90 percent among its student body. “It is a shining example that a supportive environment and outstanding educators are core factors in realizing the academic potential within every child,” the resolution stated.

SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

IN OTHER NEWS…

Special Committee on Family Separations To Convene This Month. Council has formed a new Special Committee on Child Separations, with the appointment of ten members. The appointed members have diverse backgrounds in law, government, public safety, and child welfare. The Committee will be co-chaired by Councilmembers David Oh (At Large) and Cindy Bass (8th District).

In 2019, Councilmembers Oh and Bass called for the creation of the Special Committee through the introduction of Resolution No. 190798. The resolution cited research showing that Philadelphia has the highest rate of child removal in all major cities in the United States – three times that of New York City and four times that of Chicago. The resolution followed hearings led by Oh and Bass to better understand the scope and nature of the child separation issue in Philadelphia.

Councilmembers Oh and Bass also cited outcry from family members affected by child separations. Since 2019, over 100 parents and children have come forward with testimonies of adverse experiences of child removal by the City’s Department of Human Services (DHS).

The Special Committee will examine DHS’s child separation procedures to evaluate compliance with Pennsylvania law, and to ensure that DHS procedures are adequate to prevent the illegal, improper removal of children from their families. During the Council hearings in 2019, it became apparent that there is a need for a transparent and accountable system for filing and evaluating complaints. A major focus of the Committee will be to develop recommendations that seek to improve DHS practices related to child removal to prevent the unnecessary breakup of families.

Councilmember Jones’ 12th Annual Block Captain Boot Camp goes Virtual. Every year, Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District) sponsors a Block Captain Boot Camp in his district, in which neighborhood leaders interact with his office and one another on issues affecting multiple aspects of their communities, including policing, L & I issues, horticultural and gardens, and other issues.

This year, with COVID-19 still in our midst, the Block Captain Boot Camp faces more of a challenge. But Councilmember Jones and his staff are undeterred, and the Boot Camp will take place – virtually – this Saturday, Oct. 24th, from 11 am to 1 pm. Participants can watch on Channel 64, and they can also join via Zoom. The meeting ID is 834 3116 2757. The passcode is 642099. Please rsvp to [email protected].

 

 

OTHER SITES AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Committee on Rules, held 10-19-2020

Committee on Law and Government, held 10-19-2020

Committee on Public Safety, held 10-20-2020

Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless, held 10-21-2020

Committee on the Disabled and Persons with Special Needs, held 10-21-2020

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council, held 10-22-2020

NEXT WEEK IN CITY COUNCIL

Monday, October 26. 2020
Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless 9:30am
Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform  4:30pm

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Committee of the Whole 1:00pm

Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Committee on Public Health and Human Services 1:00pm

Thursday, October 29, 2020
Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 10:00am

Friday, October 30, 2020
Committee on Public Health and Human Services   9:30am

PHILADELPHIA FACTS AND FIGURES

Source: Pew Philadelphia Poll 2020, Pew Charitable Trusts.

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 10 a.m. The Meeting will be held remotely due to the ongoing pandemic, and will air on Xfinity Ch. 64, Fios Channel 40 and stream at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch.

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