WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCIL TO HOLD HEARINGS TO EXAMINE THE IMPACT OF THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FOR PHILADELPHIA

In Allan Domb, Cherelle Parker, Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., Jamie Gauthier, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kendra Brooks, Kenyatta Johnson, News by PHL Council

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COUNCIL TO HOLD HEARINGS TO EXAMINE THE IMPACT OF THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FOR PHILADELPHIA

With an estimated $1.4 Billion in Federal aid coming to Philadelphia through the American Rescue Plan, City Council plans to hold hearings to examine this large, one-time stimulus package to determine what it will mean for Philadelphia.

In a resolution offered by Councilmember Allan Domb (At Large), Council’s Committee on Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation will hold hearings to examine the use and impact of the stimulus dollars allocated for Philadelphia under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.

“The American Rescue Plan Act is a unique opportunity for the City to plan for its future and make significant investments in programs and policies that set Philadelphia on a new trajectory to grow family-sustaining jobs at a faster rate, reduce and combat entrenched systemic poverty, and develop new and innovative methods for performing city services,” the resolution states.

In remarks on Council’s floor Thursday, Councilmember Domb also noted that the Federal stimulus package will result in an additional $1.3 Billion in aid to the School District of Philadelphia. Another Councilmember, Maria Quinones Sanchez (7th District), already introduced a resolution to hold hearings into the impact of that large amount of aid for public education in Philadelphia.

“This is a unique opportunity for Philadelphia,” Domb said Thursday. “Gun violence, poverty, COVID-19 recovery – now is the time for new, bold ideas for how Philadelphia can re-emerge from this pandemic.”

COUNCILMEMBER BROOKS INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF COERCIVE CONTROL

Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large) introduced legislation Thursday to amend the City’s code to provide protections for individuals affected by coercive control, including employment discrimination, employment leave, and housing protections.

Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse that can take a number of forms, including controlling another person’s movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, or access to services. It can also include manipulating the other person by force, threat of force, or intimidation, including threats based on immigration status.

Brooks’ legislation expands the definition of domestic violence and domestic abuse in several sections of the City code to cover these often-overlooked forms of abuse, ensuring survivors have access to paid sick leave use, renter protections, and protections from employment discrimination.

The legislation is inspired by Brooks’ cousin, Tianna Thompson, who was murdered by her partner eight years ago, on March 24, 2013. During the Council Meeting, Brooks told a story where Tiana had run into another family member who had a black eye and encouraged her to escape her abuser, something that she was not able to do herself. A few days later, Tianna was murdered, but the family member never went back to her abuser. Brooks said the legislation is in honor of Tianna’s memory, and all those whose circumstances make it impossible to leave their abusers.

“This legislation is in honor of my late cousin and the thousands of people in Philadelphia each year who endure domestic violence and urgently need these protections,” said Councilmember Brooks. “Coercive control is a form of abuse that often leads to more deadly forms of violence. My hope is that by expanding these critical employment and housing protections to those affected by coercive control, we can prevent domestic violence from escalating and restore some of the power back to survivors.”

Domestic violence in Philadelphia is a public health crisis that impacts people across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability, but is uniquely difficult for people who lack stable income and housing, which can limit survivors’ ability to escape abuse. According to Women Against Abuse, more than 100,000 9-1-1 calls each year in Philadelphia report instances of domestic violence. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting increased time spent at home has exacerbated this public health crisis, with organizations like Women Against Abuse seeing a 30% increase in calls to their domestic violence hotline.

“We look forward to being part of a conversation in Philadelphia that has been happening in other jurisdictions across the country and abroad about the complexity of the dynamics of domestic violence,” said Elise Scioscia, Chief of Staff at Women Against Abuse. “Too often, victims of domestic violence are unable to seek appropriate relief due to a narrow definition that focuses on physical abuse, without an understanding of the complete destruction that can occur from a pattern of manipulative actions and practices that takeaway agency and freedom from a victim. We look forward to working with City Council to identify opportunities to address this gap and provide additional support to people experiencing domestic violence in our community.”

Brooks’ bill was co-signed and supported by eight other Councilmembers.

COUNCIL RECOGNIZES NEW CHAIR OF THE FREE LIBRARY’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Council recognized a former colleague and respected voice on Thursday when Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large) introduced a resolution commending Folasade A. Olanipekun-Lewis on her election as the new chair of the board of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Sade, as she is known in Council and around City Hall, has held multiple senior positions in city government, including serving as Council’s chief financial officer and also in a similar role for the School District of Philadelphia. Sade served as City Treasurer for a time as well. She currently works for American Airlines as regional director for government affairs and air service.

Sade enters the Library system’s board chair position at a sensitive time, as the Library has been wracked by charges of institutional racism. Its president has stepped down, as has its outgoing board chair. Sade will take over as board chair in June.

“I am honored that the Board of Trustees has selected me for this crucial role, and I look forward to working with them, the staff of the Free Library, and those who love the Library as I do as we face the opportunities and challenges to be of service to the City of Philadelphia,” Olanipekun-Lewis said this week.

SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA…

IN OTHER NEWS…

Councilmember Johnson Urges Social Media Companies to Scrutinize Posts for Messages Tied to Gun Violence. Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) a longtime advocate in Council against the proliferation of gun violence, introduced a resolution on Thursday, urging all social media platforms to better scrutinize their users’ posts, as Johnson highlighted the growing problem of people using social media to fuel or amplify arguments or beefs – and then resorting to gun violence to settle them.

Johnson cited stories of mothers going to social media sites to see graphic video images of their sons after being shot. “They post the homicides,” Johnson exclaimed in Council. “They post the shootings. People get barred from social media for a lot less than this. We’re asking the social media companies to do some responsible monitoring of their sites.”

Councilmember Jones Sponsors “Live and Let Live” Campaign. As the city’s ongoing public safety and public health crisis around gun violence continues, Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District) on Thursday sponsored a resolution supporting a “Live and Let Live” campaign for the city to coordinate and promote activities to help eradicate the culture of gun violence. The resolution recited the litany of statistics associated with rising gun violence in Philadelphia, and called gun violence “a citywide emergency that requires citywide effort and support to eradicate. The “Live and Let Live” campaign and theme is a way of supporting the many anti-violence groups working on the street level to reduce shootings in our neighborhoods, and encouraging citizens to promote peace and end gun violence in our communities.”

Council Honors and Reflects on the Life of a Black Businesswoman and Civic Leader. Council took time today to explore and honor the legacy of Emma Chappell, a lifelong Philadelphian who formed the first Black-owned bank in Pennsylvania, the United Bank of Philadelphia. Ms. Chappell, also a longtime civic leader in Philadelphia, passed away on March 16, 2021 at the age of 80. A long list of Philadelphians lined up virtually to commend Emma Chappell today as the resolution honoring her, offered by Council Majority Leader Cherelle Parker (9th District), passed unanimously. “She was always willing to be the partner,” observed George Burrell, a former City Councilmember and senior official in the Street administration. “Emma didn’t need the fanfare or the limelight. She was always there, supporting what needed to get done.”

OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities, 3-22-2021

Committee on Public Safety, 3-23-2021

Committee on Streets and Services, 3-23-2021

Committee on Public Property and Public Works, 3-24-2021

Committee on Intergenerational Affairs and Aging, 3-24-2021

Inside PHLCouncil Podcast, published 3-22-2021

PHILADELPHIA FACTS AND FIGURES

Source: Philadelphia Department of Public Health

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 10 am. 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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