WEEKLY REPORT: PROPOSED LEGISLATION REOPENS CONVERSATION ON CITY WORKER RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT

In Brian O'Neill, Cindy Bass, Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, Helen Gym, Isaiah Thomas, Jamie Gauthier, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kendra Brooks, Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla, Michael Driscoll, News by PHL Council

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COUNCILMEMBER GYM INTRODUCES BILL TO CHANGE CITY’S RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR CITY EMPLOYMENT

Councilmember Helen Gym speaks at a podiumCouncilmember Helen Gym (At Large) introduced legislation this week in City Council that would reverse a law approved by Council just two years ago – a requirement that applicants for city jobs be residents of Philadelphia for a year before their hiring.

With city government facing vacancies in many departments, including core agencies such as Police, Fire and the Library, Councilmember Gym introduced a bill on Thursday that, if approved, would return the city’s residency requirement to what it was for a 12-year prior period – successful applicants would have 6 months to move into Philadelphia once hired.

“Filling city vacancies is a matter of public safety,” Gym said. “This is about ensuring every city agency, every department, is functioning at full capacity to meet the needs of every neighborhood in our city. It is vital that we continue to build a world class city workforce that both reflects our communities and delivers on basic city services. Today’s legislation will help us do just that, and place Philadelphia back among our peers in our ability to recruit and retain talent as a major city.”

In a statement, Councilmember Gym said the city currently has about 4,000 vacancies, nearly 15 percent of the city workforce.

However, Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), who championed a return to the existing residency requirement in 2020, arguing that city departments – such as Police and Fire – need to look much more like the city residents they serve, said he had questions about what rationale the Councilmember’s legislation was based upon.

“I’m not sure if the Councilmember’s bill was based on the reality as it relates to being able to hire individuals in the city of Philadelphia, particularly residents; or if it was based on civil service requirements; or if it was based on politics,” Clarke said. “I got elected to represent City of Philadelphia residents. I didn’t get elected to represent speculative residents of the City of Philadelphia.”

Clarke released several pieces of data to reporters after the legislation was introduced. In one piece of data, the Police Department disclosed that in February, it had 2,502 applicants to the department, all of them city residents. The average size of a police recruiting class is about 100, police said.

In a second data point, Clarke released information from the city’s chief administrative officer indicating that there were currently 20,368 vetted candidates for city jobs who were already city residents. The number of vacancies in city departments is said to be approximately 4,000.

Gym indicated in a floor statement after the bill was introduced that the city’s four major municipal unions – police, fire, and blue-collar and white-collar municipal workers – all supported her bill.

The bill as introduced listed six co-sponsors – Councilmembers Brian O’Neill (10th District), Mike Driscoll (6th District), Mark Squilla (1st District), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), and Kendra Brooks (At Large), in addition to her own sponsorship.

COUNCILMEMBER BASS PROPOSES BILL TO CRACKDOWN ON CATALYTIC CONVERTER CRIMES

Along with a steady rise in gun violence, other kinds of property crime are on the rise as well in Philadelphia, including the theft of catalytic converters off cars – right in front of car owners’ homes, in many cases.

One Councilmember introduced legislation this week to address this rising property crime, as Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District) introduced a bill that will require anyone buying or selling catalytic converters or other designated car parts to have and keep records on hand indicating the name, make and model of the car from which the parts were taken.

If the auto parts seller doesn’t retain these records, and is found selling these auto parts, they could face fines up to and including imprisonment of five years, according to the legislation.

COUNCILMEMBER THOMAS CALLS FOR HEARINGS ON NEW STATE GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

Council Education Committee Chair Isaiah Thomas (At Large) introduced a resolution to hold hearings on the statewide requirement regarding high school students , Act 158.

As Councilmember Thomas’ resolution lays out:

The Committee on Education shall hold hearings to understand Pennsylvania Act 158’s changes to state graduation requirements and their impact on Philadelphia students and to learn more about the School District of Philadelphia’s plan to implement and support schools and students with these new requirements.

Act 158 mandates post-secondary preparedness in various pathways demonstrating college, career, community readiness. According to Research for Action, a non-profit organization, 70 percent of Black students and 75 percent of Hispanic students would not meet the requirements for pathways set out in Act 158.

Philadelphia youth are being impacted by Act 158 and the policy articulates “alternative pathways” without giving clear guidelines to follow and expects students to find their own way through the policy.

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium, another non-profit group, indicates that more than 55 percent of the students will need significant support in meeting the requirements set out by Act 158, specifically in outlining the career pathways alternative requirement.

The resolution authorizes Council’s Committee on Education to hold hearings to discuss how the School District of Philadelphia plans on implementing Act 158 in supporting the navigation of the new high school graduation requirement.

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IN OTHER NEWS…

Members Praise Longtime City Labor Leader. Even in a big city like Philadelphia, where political skirmishes and contentious issues can often lead to frayed relationships, there comes along on rare occasions a leader whom everybody gets along with and respects. In Council on Thursday, the members celebrated longtime Philadelphia AFL-CIO President Patrick Eiding on his retirement: . Member after member took the floor to comment on a resolution honoring Pat Eiding on his decades-long career not only as a respected labor leader in the city, but a civic leader who always stepped to the plate in times of crisis and need as well. “Don’t go too far in your retirement, Pat,” said Councilmember Cindy Bass with affection. “We’re still going to call on you, and we’re still going to need you.”

Eiding appeared taken aback by the display of public support for his tenure. He rose after the resolution passed to thank Council, to introduce several longtime union colleagues, along with several of his family members. “I will always remember this,” Eiding told Council.

OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Committee on Public Health and Human Services 11-10-2022

Committee on Public Safety 11-14-2022

Committee on Appropriations 11-16-2022

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 11-17-2022

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia City Hall, Room 400 and will air on Xfinity Ch. 64, Fios Channel 40 and stream at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch.

Weekly Stated Meetings will be in-person for the remainder of the year. Masks will be recommended and provided.

Out of an abundance of caution and with the public’s health in mind, public hearings will continue to be conducted remotely.

Featured Photo: Jared Piper/PHLCouncil

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