WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCILMEMBERS PRAISE COLLEAGUE QUIÑONES SÁNCHEZ FOR HIGHLIGHTING HEALTHCARE DISPARITIES AMID HER OWN HEALTH CRISIS

In Cindy Bass, Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, David Oh, Derek Green, Jamie Gauthier, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, News by PHL Council

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COUNCILMEMBERS SHOW SUPPORT FOR COLLEAGUE QUIÑONES SÁNCHEZ AS SHE FACES HEALTH CHALLENGE

Thursdays are days when City Council focuses on business as it conducts its weekly Meeting, where bills and resolutions are introduced and voted, and speeches at the end of session of the issues of the day. This week was different, and the speeches were united and personal, as member after member rose in praise of their colleague and friend, Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), who disclosed to Philadelphia last weekend that she is battling breast cancer.

Quiñones Sánchez wrote in a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer that she was disclosing her health challenge now in hopes of encouraging women throughout Philadelphia – particularly Black and Brown women who face challenges of access to health care – to get checked for signs of cancer.

From the floor of Council on Thursday, her colleagues praised her strength and courage.

“I interacted with Councilmember Quiñones Sánchez all last week on matters, and never once did I suspect the challenges she was facing personally,” said Councilmember David Oh (At Large). “I was amazed to learn of this, and all my thoughts and prayers are with her.”

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) spoke of her colleague Quiñones Sánchez’s “empowering Black and Brown girls across the city” with her courage and speaking out publicly. Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large) grew emotional as she spoke of the many times she’s leaned on Quiñones Sánchez for advice during her own first two years in Council. “Gracias,” Gilmore Richardson said to her colleague. “We love you.”

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) called his colleague “a fighting Latina,” and said he had every belief she will fight and defeat this disease. Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), who usually does not speak from the President’s chair, weighed in to close the session: “My friend, you are a fighter, and I love you.”

INCREASE IN INFESTATIONS NEAR PROPERTY DEVELOPMENTS SPURS RAT ABATEMENT LEGISLATION IN CITY COUNCIL

Responding to a flurry of complaints from homeowners in neighborhoods across the city about rat infestations — frequently near property developments and demolitions — Council introduced legislation to strengthen city laws regarding the abatement of rats.

Introduced by Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District), who chairs Council’s Public Health Committee, at the request of Council President Clarke, the legislation requires that prior to any demolition, rehabilitation or new construction with excavation, the owner of the property must prepare a rodent control management plan for the detection, inspection and treatment of rats or rodents. At a minimum, the plan must include provisions for abatement of the site by a licensed structural pest control company.

“Site owners need to be held accountable and that’s what this bill is meant to do,” Councilmember Bass said. “Our residents shouldn’t have to fear rodents from building sites intruding on their personal space, or the neighborhood. This has been a public safety and health concern, and I’m glad to see steps being taken in the right direction.”

“We’re hearing with increasing frequency from homeowners complaining that rats are materializing whenever there are property demolitions, excavations or developments in their neighborhoods,” said Council President Clarke. “It’s only fair that developers have a rat abatement plan in place to deal with this nuisance problem before it gets worse.”

As more city neighborhoods gentrify with property demolitions and new construction, more complaints are surfacing from Philadelphia residents about rat problems that they never recall seeing in their communities.

In addition to the rodent management plan required by the ordinance, the proposed law authorizes the city departments of Public Health and Licenses & Inspections to issue regulations to implement and enforce the law.

BUDGET LEGISLATION AUTHORIZES $500,000 TO RELOCATE CITY RESIDENTS THREATENED BY CRIMINAL ACTIVITY

Council introduced a budget ordinance that includes $500,000 to be spent on relocation services for Philadelphia residents who have been threatened by criminal activity in their neighborhoods.

The $500,000 appropriation, contained in a midyear FY2021-22 budget ordinance introduced in Council on Thursday by Appropriations Chair Quiñones Sánchez, comes at the request of Councilmember Oh, who has advocated on this issue.

Councilmember Oh has spoken during Meetings about the urgency of the city taking steps to protect and relocate where necessary Philadelphia residents who feel threatened by criminals and criminal activity in their neighborhoods. Oh introduced a resolution with Quiñones Sánchez which recently passed Council, calling on the city to post a reward for information leading to the apprehension of individuals who attempted to firebomb the home of a Kensington resident.

Councilmember Oh met recently with mothers who are the targets of violence because they or their children cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation of murders. Oh visited the home of one mother and found a bullet hole in the metal lamppost outside her home. That mother has been waiting to be relocated for over a year.

“We must protect our mothers and children from being victims of retaliation,” Councilmember Oh said. “I’m grateful that Council and the Kenney administration acted quickly to secure $500,000 for the Managing Director’s Office public safety unit to relocate this mother and her two children. This action will save lives, protect other families and encourage cooperation with law enforcement to help reduce this senseless cycle of violence in our city.”

“It is urgent that we establish a mechanism to have a trusted system of relocation in place to protect families that are cooperating with our public safety officials,” said Quiñones Sánchez.

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IN OTHER NEWS…

Council Introduces Midyear Budget Transfer Ordinance. Councilmember Quiñones Sánchez also introduced, at the Kenney administration’s request, a midyear budget transfer ordinance for FY2021-22. The budget ordinance moves city funds around among various agencies as the city’s fiscal year nears its midpoint, and different departments are showing different needs. The ordinance as proposed will provide more funding to the police and fire departments to cover personnel costs arising from the civil unrest, COVID-19 response, and various staffing shortages caused by the pandemic.

The ordinance provides for more funding to the City Commissioners to address personnel costs caused by the 2020 presidential election and the commissioners’ unprecedented response in counting hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots under intense time pressures. It also provides for added funding for the District Attorney’s Office, more funding for arts and culture initiatives, and an array of other city expenditures. The transfer ordinance will be subject to a hearing in Council’s Appropriations Committee,

A Council Hearing this Friday on School Safety and Environmental-Related Hazards in Public Schools. The hearing is being held in Council’s Committee on Licenses & Inspections, on legislation introduced by Councilmember Derek Green (At Large). Since the start of the 2021-22 school year, school safety and environmental health advocates, along with parents, teachers and others have continued to sound the alarm on less-than-adequate conditions inside Philadelphia’s aging public school buildings. This hearing will provide an opportunity to hear from school safety officials, community leaders, including members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, SEIU 32BJ, school administrators, Philadelphia Home and School Association, and others about their experiences, underscoring the immediate need for action to permanently address these safety hazards. Green’s legislation proposes an amendment to the city’s building code to include educational building safety requirements and enhancements – specifically regarding standards for asbestos and mold. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. and can be viewed at www.phlcouncil.com/watch, Xfinity Ch. 64 and Fios Channel 40.

OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless 10-29-2021

Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention 11-3-2021

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 11-4-2021

PHILADELPHIA FACTS AND FIGURES

2021 General Election Voter Turnout Source: Philadelphia City Commissioners

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, November 18, 2021 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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