WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCILMEMBER GREEN INTRODUCES “CIVICS AGENDA” LEGISLATION; COUNCILMEMBER JONES ANNOUNCES 100 SHOOTING REVIEW FINDINGS

In Allan Domb, Cherelle Parker, Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., Darrell L. Clarke, Derek Green, Helen Gym, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kendra Brooks, News by PHL Council

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COUNCILMEMBER GREEN INTRODUCES “CIVICS AGENDA” LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large)introduced a “Civics Legislative Agenda” in Council this week, a package of bills that he said was designed to encourage greater civic engagement and participation among Philadelphians, including:

  • Home Rule Charter change for the age of an individual to run for Mayor (from the current 25 years of age to 21) and City Council (from 25 to the voting age, currently 18).
  • Charter change to make the Office of the Inspector General permanent.
  • A bill clarifying conflicts of interest and providing greater disclosure for non-city sources of income.
  • A bill to create a public financing program for city elections.
  • A bill to clarify the single-account rule for city candidates to ensure proper spending and disclosure

All legislation will be referred to the appropriate Council committees for consideration.

COUNCILMEMBER JONES RELEASES 100 SHOOTING REVIEW COMMITTEE REPORT WITH RECOMMENDATIONS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE

Following a year of work in collaboration with multiple stakeholders in the criminal justice system, Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), Chair of Council’s Public Safety Committee, released a 196-page report this week on the work of a “100 Shooting Review Committee”, which examined ultimately several thousand shootings citywide and made a set of key findings and recommendations.

At an afternoon news conference after Council, Councilmember Jones, flanked by a group of his colleagues, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and others, laid out some findings and recommendations contained in the report.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Shooting victims and suspects arrested are largely male, people of color, 18-35 years old, and have prior criminal histories.
  • Arguments are the most common shooting motive (50%). Drug trafficking is the next most common motive(18%).
  • Most recovered crime guns tend to be semi-automatic guns first bought in Pennsylvania more than 3 years ago.
  • Gun sales have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania. In 2000, fewer than 400,000 guns were sold in PA. In 2020, over 1 million were sold.
  • Clearance rates in shooting cases are low. In 2020, only 37% of fatal shootings and 18% of non-fatal shootings were cleared.
  • There has been a sharp rise in people arrested in Philadelphia for illegal gun possession –largely due to a doubling in arrests for illegal possession of a firearm without a license since 2018. Approximately 4 in 5 people arrested for illegal gun possession are Black.
  • Both the initial and final bail set by courts in illegal gun possession cases declined between 2015 and 2019, but increased in 2020 and 2021.
  • Conviction rates in shooting cases have fallen steadily since 2015, although had begun to rebound before the pandemic. Between 2016 and 2020, the fatal shooting conviction rate dropped from 96% to 80%.
  • Approximately half of illegal gun possession cases were dismissed because of the failure of the victim, witness, or police officer to appear for court proceedings.
  • The DA and Police are collaboratively reviewing all non-fatal shootings and gun possession by prohibited persons–leading to improved prosecutions.

The report had a wide array of recommendations, many of which focused on increased investments in technology for police and the DA to use in prosecuting crime, along with continuing investments in community-based gun violence prevention programs – which Council invested heavily in last June with the Kenney administration.

COUNCILMEMBER BROOKS INTRODUCES BILL TO REINSTATE EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE FOR PHILLY WORKERS

Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At Large) introduced her third Public Health Emergency Leave bill this week, which would reinstate a requirement that businesses provide adequate paid sick leave for individuals reporting to work in-person. Under the legislation, workers would receive up to forty hours of paid leave, which would be available for use immediately to recover from COVID-19 or care for a sick family member. With new COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia averaging 1,111 per day and many hospitals near capacity as a result of the highly contagious omicron variant, the bill seeks to reduce the spread of COVID-19, keep businesses open safely, and ensure low-wage workers can afford to stay home when sick.

“We’re learning to live with COVID-19, and one of the main lessons we’ve learned is that paid sick leave keeps workers safe and keeps businesses open,” said Councilmember Brooks. “After almost two years of the pandemic, I know we’re all eager to return to normal life. But when restaurants have workers spreading the virus to guests, grocery store clerks can’t afford to stay home and quarantine, and sanitation workers don’t have the paid leave they need to care for their sick kids—that’s not normal life; that’s bad public health policy. This bill merely gives Philadelphia’s working class the basic protections they are owed so that we can continue safely moving forward as a city.”

Previous iterations of this bill, both introduced by Brooks, were passed by Council in September 2020 and again in March 2021, but expired due to sunset provisions. Unlike previous versions, this bill would apply to all businesses with ten or more workers, and reduce the amount of paid sick leave time from two weeks to one week, in accordance with new COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Labor unions and frontline workers, many of whom are seeing unprecedented rates of COVID-19 infections, echoed the clear need for strong paid sick leave legislation.

“We’ve seen the sacrifices that essential workers—including janitors, security officers, and airport workers—have made to keep our cities safe, secure and healthy throughout the pandemic,” said Gabe Morgan, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU for Pennsylvania and Delaware, which represents over 22,000 property service workers. “With increasingly infectious variants like omicron, it is crucial that workers who are constantly exposed have the ability to take a day off when they or their family members are sick.”

SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA…

COUNCIL HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING ON REDISTRICTING LEGISLATION

Council’s Committee of the Whole held a hearing this week to consider legislation to revise boundaries of 10 Council districts, in accordance with the requirement that Council go through once-a-decade redistricting following the U.S. Census.

Councilmembers heard from two dozen members of the public, including community activists and advocacy organizations interested in the redistricting process. Many of those who testified said they wished they had more of an opportunity to study the Council plan before it is voted on by Council in advance of the February 12th statutory deadline.

Council President Clarke told the public testifiers that “We hear you — clearly,” and that Council would take their objections and comments under advisement in the days and weeks ahead before voting on the plan.

Some of those testifying also asked Council to take into account the prison gerrymandering issue — allocating prisoners in jails who are from Philadelphia according to whatever Council district they resided in prior to their incarceration. Council President Clarke said Council had the authority to revisit its boundaries even after voting on a plan if it deemed it necessary to address this issue.

The redistricting legislation, Bill No. 220003, was introduced on President Clarke’s behalf by Council Majority Leader Cherelle L. Parker (9th District). The Committee of the Whole hearing was recessed until Wednesday, Feb. 2.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Councilmember Domb Introduces Resolution Honoring Joseph Fox Bookshop. Councilmember Allan Domb (At Large), offered his resolution in praise of Joseph Fox Booksellers, a Center City institution for booklovers, parents, and anyone who enjoyed browsing in the tiny, well-run store on Sansom Street since it opened in 1951. After being owned and operated by one family – the Fox family – for nearly 71 years, the son of the original proprietor has announced he is retiring and the family will close the store at the end of January. “Joseph Fox Booksellers was a little gem in the heart of the city,” Councilmember Domb said. “It will be missed.”

Councilmember Gilmore Richardson Offers Resolution Naming February as Career and Technical Education Month in Philadelphia. The resolution from Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large), notes that Philadelphia has over 120 career and technical education curriculums in more than 30 schools, and that CTE education provides students with career exploration opportunities earlier in their educational experience, enabling them to make informed, beneficial decisions about their academic coursework and pursue established programs of study and career paths, including careers in healthcare, energy, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and information technology. Gilmore Richardson is a passionate advocate for CTE training and education for young people.

OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Committee of the Whole 1-26-2022

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 1-27-2022

100 Shooting Review Committee Report Press Conference 1-27-2022

PHILADELPHIA FACTS AND FIGURES

Source: 100 Shooting Review Committee Report

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 3, 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.

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