WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCIL OPENS 2022 WITH REDISTRICTING LEGISLATION; HENON RESIGNS FOLLOWING 2021 CONVICTION

In Allan Domb, Bobby Henon, Cherelle Parker, Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., Darrell L. Clarke, Derek Green, Helen Gym, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kenyatta Johnson, News, Uncategorized by PHL Council

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CITY COUNCIL OPENS 2022 WITH LEGISLATION TO REVISE BOUNDARIES OF COUNCIL’S 10 DISTRICTS

Legislation was introduced in City Council this week to revise the boundaries of the 10 Council districts, in accordance with the requirement that Council go through its once-a-decade redistricting process following the results of the U.S. Census.

The redistricting legislation, Bill No. 220003, was introduced on Council President Darrell L. Clarke’s behalf by Council Majority Leader Cherelle L. Parker (9th District).

The redistricting bill will now be subject to a public hearing in Council’s Committee of the Whole, scheduled to be held on Wednesday, Jan. 26th, at 10 AM. That hearing will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams, and can be viewed on Xfinity Channel 64, Fios Channel 40 or at www.phlcouncil.com/watch

“We take our responsibilities seriously to revise our boundaries in accordance with the U.S. Census results once every 10 years, and now we proceed with the bill to a public hearing, where the public will have ample opportunity to let its voice be heard,” Council President Clarke said.

Philadelphia now has just over 1.6 Million residents, according to the Census, and registered a slight population increase of 78,000 people over the last decade. So each of the Council districts will have, on average, about 160,000 residents per district.

Speakers interested in providing testimony on the redistricting legislation should call (215) 821-6625 or email [email protected] by 3 PM on Tuesday, Jan. 25, and submit the following information:

  • Full name
  • Callback phone number where they can be reached the day of the hearing
  • Identify the bill number that will be addressed

COUNCILMEMBER HENON RESIGNS FOLLOWING CONVICTION ON FEDERAL CHARGES

A month before his sentencing date in federal court, Councilmember Bobby Henon (6th District) resigned from City Council on Thursday, following his conviction last November in federal court on conspiracy charges.

Council President Clarke issued a statement after receiving Councilmember Henon’s formal resignation letter this morning.

“Councilmember Bobby Henon has submitted his resignation as Councilmember for the Sixth Councilmanic District to my office this morning, effective immediately,” Council President Clarke said.

“As I stated in November, while it is always difficult to learn that a member of this body has been convicted of violating the law, the jury spoke, and we respect its verdict.”

“I will take the appropriate steps authorized under the Home Rule Charter regarding this vacancy in Council in due course and in full accordance with city law. It is important that the people of the Sixth District have representation in City Council.”

“City Council will not be distracted by this event, and remains focused on the urgent issues confronting our city – public safety, gun violence, the recovery from COVID-19, restarting our economy, and creating more jobs, opportunity and hope for every Philadelphian. We’ll keep doing our jobs for the people of Philadelphia.”

The next step is for the Council President, following the Home Rule Charter, to issue what’s known as a Writ for Special Election, which will ask the City Commissioners to schedule a special election to fill the unexpired term in the 6th District, from the date of whenever the special election is held until the end of 2023.  The political parties – Democrats and Republicans – will each nominate a candidate to run in the special election.

COUNCILMEMBER PARKER PROPOSES GENDER-NEUTRAL LANGUAGE FOR THE PHILADELPHIA HOME RULE CHARTER

Majority Leader Cherelle L. Parker  introduced legislation to remove any and all references to gender in the Home Rule Charter, the city’s touchstone governing document. Parker introduced the legislation on behalf of the Kenney administration.

The Charter was drafted 70 years ago, and frequently uses male pronouns to describe various city officials, boards and agencies. If approved, the Parker/Kenney administration proposal won’t be the first time Council has addressed gender issues in the language of local government. In 2019, voters approved a measure introduced by Councilmember Derek Green (At Large) to change references to Councilman or Councilwoman to Councilmembers.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE PROPOSES LEGISLATION ALLOWING FOR PROPERTY OWNERS TO CLAIM BUSINESS TAX CREDIT FOR INSTALLING FIRE ESCAPE LADDERS

Following a deadly rowhome fire in the Fairmount neighborhood that claimed 12 lives earlier this month, City Council today introduced legislation that would provide property owners or landlords who install Fire-Escape Rope Ladders with a credit against their city business taxes.

The legislation, introduced on behalf of Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) by Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), chairman of Council’s Public Safety Committee, comes after a terrible fire on January 6th on North 23rd Street in Fairmount that broke out in the early morning hours and quickly consumed a two-story apartment inside a 3-story red brick rowhouse. The fire, which began when a toddler used a lighter that ignited a Christmas tree, spread so fast through the apartment that only the child and one adult managed to escape. Three adult women and nine of their children died in the blaze.

Under the legislation introduced today, property owners or landlords who install Fire-Escape Rope Ladders, and have their purchase and installation verified by appropriate city agencies, will be permitted to apply their expenses for a credit against their Business Privilege Taxes.

Property owners and landlords will be required under the legislation to submit their plans to install these escape ladders to the city Department of Licenses & Inspections, and also to have a written analysis done by an engineer or qualified professional confirming that the fire escape ladder is safe for the property in question, will be situated near a window or other safe, accessible point of egress within the property, and meets any other requirements established by regulations to be set by L & I, the Fire Department, or any other appropriate city agency.

Once that is done, the property owner may then apply for the business privilege tax credit from the Revenue Department.

“This is one small step, but anything that induces property owners and landlords to add additional fire safety measures inside their properties is important and worth doing,” said Council President Clarke. “We will continue doing anything within our power to make residential properties safe from fire for every resident of our city.”

The fire-escape rope ladder tax credit legislation will be subject next to a public hearing in  the Public Safety Committee, chaired by Councilmember Jones.

SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA…

IN OTHER NEWS…

Resolution Introduced Nominating Seth Bluestein to Fill Vacancy in City Commissioners Office. Council introduced a resolution today, on behalf of the Kenney administration, nominating Seth Bluestein, a deputy city commissioner, to fill a vacancy on the Commissioners’ board created when Commissioner Al Schmidt resigned to become President of the Committee of Seventy.

Resolutions Honoring the Lives of Bob Saget and James Mtume.  Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), offered resolutions honoring the lives of TV actor and comedian Bob Saget and jazz musician James Mtume, Philadelphia natives who both passed away recently.

Resolution Honoring Quinta Brunson, Creator of a Hit Sitcom set in a Fictional Philadelphia Public School. Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large) introduced a resolution celebrating Brunson, a writer, actor and comedian who created Abbott Elementary, an innovative, funny Black and women-led sitcom that sheds light on the joys, struggles, dedication and resilience of Philadelphia teachers and school communities.

Resolution Honoring Jeff Guaracino, Visit Philly CEO. Councilmember Allan Domb (At Large), introduced the resolution, honoring Guaracino, who died at 48 last month from cancer. Guaracino was an indefatigable booster of Philadelphia and its hospitality and tourism industries, as well as its LGBTQ community.

OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 1-20-2022

Inside PHLCouncil Podcast Episode 21, published 1-14-2022

PHILADELPHIA FACTS AND FIGURES

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 27, 2022 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.

Photo: Visit Philadelphia

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