WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCIL’S BUSY DECEMBER AGENDA INCLUDES ADDITIONAL ARTS FUNDING, LEGISLATION ON TANGLED TITLES, STREETERIES

In Allan Domb, Cherelle Parker, Cindy Bass, Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, Derek Green, Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Mark Squilla, News by PHL Council

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COUNCILMEMBERS ANNOUNCE $3.25 MILLION INVESTMENT IN LOCAL ARTS COMMUNITY

City Council has announced a $3.25 Million investment in the local arts and culture community. This funding is a combination of an allocation from the New Normal Budget Act and additional appropriation sin a recent budget transfer ordinance.

Councilmembers Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Derek Green, Mark Squilla and Cindy Bass circulated a memo to Council leadership advocating for financial prioritization of the arts. A news conference this week led by Thomas and Gilmore Richardson at a Black-owned art gallery in Germantown highlighted the additional investments.

“We’ve been saying ‘illuminate the arts’ because we need to better prioritize Philadelphia arts and culture by highlighting and investing in this community,” said Councilmember Thomas (At Large).“We gathered at Kings Gallery PHL in Germantown because we have to value all types of art in every neighborhood. City Council is announcing an investment of over $3 million in arts across Philadelphia.”

In addition to money allocated in the traditional budget process, the following investments were announced this week:

• $1.5 Million for another round of Illuminate the Arts Grants

• $1 Millionto the Philadelphia Cultural Fund

• $450,000 for Mural Arts Philadelphia

• $150,000 for the Mann Center

• $100,000 for the Greater Philadelphia Film Office

• $50,000 for the National Marian Anderson Museum and Historical Society

“This additional funding to the Philadelphia Cultural Fund is vitally important to hundreds of nonprofit arts organizations throughout our city and is a significant investment in the health and vitality of the city itself,” said Barbara Silzle, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on Philadelphia’s artists and arts organizations. As Philadelphia strives to recover from the pandemic, the arts will play a central role in its recovery.”

“Enormous thanks to Councilmembers Gilmore Richardson, Thomas and Green and all members of Council,” said Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. “The film and television industry touches every type of business in Philadelphia and provides countless employment opportunities in the creative economy.”

COUNCIL APPROVES BILL ENLISTING FUNERAL HOMES TO HELP PREVENT TANGLED TITLES

Legislation to help prevent tangled titles, introduced by Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large), passed Council this week. Philadelphia has at least 10,407 tangled titles, and half of these titles became tangled within the last decade, according to research by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The vast majority of these tangled titles result from heirs not acting after the owner of a property dies. The Tangled Title Disclosure Bill requires all funeral service providers to give their clients a tangled title information sheet, which will provide information about legal assistance, probating estates and how to avoid tangled titles. The Department of Records will create the information sheet, with support from the Register of Wills.

“Philadelphians have called out for equity and inclusion, and expanding generational wealth through property ownership is crucial to achieving racial and economic equity,” said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson. “With this bill’s passage, we are reaching residents at one of the most important moments to help avoid a tangled title. I have personally experienced the lengthy, frustrating, and expensive process to untangle a title, and it is my goal to help as many families as possible avoid getting caught up in this process. I thank my colleagues in Council for their support of the legislation, as well as the Register of Wills, the Commissioner of Records, legal services agencies, funeral service providers, and everyone who helped us create and pass this important legislation.”

COUNCIL INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO TIGHTEN AND CLARIFY RULES ON RECUSALS, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Majority Leader Cherelle Parker (9th District) on Thursday introduced, on behalf of Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) a resolution and ordinance designed to tighten up Council’s current process under which Members disclose if they have a financial interest in any legislation coming before Council.

The legislation, which would amend Council’s rules to include the language governing recusals, as well as amend current language in the Philadelphia Code, would require Councilmembers to notify Council’s Chief Clerk in writing of any financial interest in a piece of legislation within 5 days of its introduction.

Under the legislation introduced this week by Majority Leader Parker on Council President Clarke’s behalf, the recusal and disclosure of the financial interest must be made in writing and detail the nature and extent of what the interest is, and be made up front, within 5 days of the bill’s introduction in Council.

If the Councilmember fails to disclose the financial interest and Council becomes aware of the omission, it can require the member to respond within 30 days – in writing. If the Councilmember still fails to respond, Council will refer the matter to its Committee on Ethics for further review. That committee is chaired by the Council President.

The resolution and ordinance introduced this week will be referred to an appropriate Council committee for a public hearing.

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IN OTHER NEWS…

Councilmember Domb Calls on Kenney Administration to Appoint Academic Expert to Study City’s Investment in Violence Prevention Programs. Councilmember Allan Domb (At Large), citing the city’s historic and significant appropriation on violence prevention strategies in an attempt to stem a horrific tide of gun violence in Philadelphia, introduced a resolution calling on Mayor Kenney to hire an academic expert to study and make sure the city was wisely appropriating these funds. “We owe it to all Philadelphians to make sure that all of our spending achieves the desired result” – a reduction in gun violence, Domb said. Domb’s resolution comes during yet another alarming spike in gun violence and a troubling week, including the execution of a 14-year-old boy at a Crescentville bus stop, the murder of a Temple University student just off campus, multiple other shootings and homicides across the city, and the shooting of an off-duty Philadelphia police officer during a road rage incident in North Philadelphia. As of December 1st, the city’s homicide total for 2021 was at 512 – a 12 percent increase over last year at this moment and the highest recorded murder total in city history.

Council Gives Preliminary Approval to Pair of Bills Designed to Protect Small Business Owners. Council gave first approval this week to two bills introduced by Majority Leader Parker. Bill No. 210917 protects commercial tenants by requiring property owners, or those authorized to lease a property on their behalf, to provide potential tenants with a City-issued guidebook containing important zoning information at least 7 days prior to a lease being signed. Bill No. 210670 builds upon legislation that was passed during the COVID-19 pandemic that limited the maximum fee which third-party food delivery services like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats could charge to partner restaurants. The legislation will maintain a 15% total fee cap for restaurants that choose it, but it will also allow restaurants to “opt out” of the cap and into a higher fee tier in return for additional services beyond basic delivery and marketing.

Council Gives Final Approval to Outdoor Streeteries Compromise. Under the legislation, first introduced by Councilmember Allan Domb in an effort to support outdoor streetery restaurants, an innovation that arise out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the compromise bill moved forward and received unanimous approval in Council on Thursday. Under the compromise, brokered by Council President Clarke, broad sections of the city – as specified by the ordinance – will allow the streeteries by right moving forward. If a proposed streetery is not situated in these pre-selected areas, the restaurant or business owner will be required to seek approval through the Streets Department and district Councilmember by special ordinance. This process is how sidewalk cafes have been proposed and approved in the city for years. The compromise bill also gives Streets & Licenses and Inspections authority to set basic rules and standards governing the design and siting of the streeteries.

OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Joint Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities, Public Safety 11-29-2021

Committee of the Whole 11-30-2021

Committee on Commerce and Economic Development 11-30-2021

Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities 12-1-2021

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 12-2-2021

Committee on Public Safety 12-2-2021

Inside PHLCouncil Podcast Ep. 20

PHILADELPHIA FACTS AND FIGURES

Source: Billy Penn

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, December 9, 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.

Featured Photo: R. Rabena/Visit Philadelphia

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