In Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, Isaiah Thomas, James Harrity, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kendra Brooks, Kenyatta Johnson, Michael Driscoll, News by PHL Council

Like it? Share it!

City Council of Philadelphia Weekly Report logo


City Councilmembers joined with School District of Philadelphia officials and a construction trades leader this week to announce a new career and technical training curriculum designed to introduce high school seniors at one school to a potential pathway into careers in the building trades in Philadelphia.

School District Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington Sr., flanked by Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), Laborers District Council Business Manager Ryan Boyer, other Councilmembers and state legislators, laid out a 19-week curriculum that 40 seniors at Strawberry Mansion High School have undertaken.

Under the new Career & Technical Education (CTE) initiative, the students will be exposed to construction techniques and concepts including residential wiring, conduit bending, the proper use of PPE on job sites, OSHA compliance and more.

The students are also receiving instruction in personal and career development including credit and budgeting, interviewing and conflict resolution.

The renewed emphasis on CTE classes has been promoted for several years by Council President Clarke, who told a crowded press conference at Strawberry Mansion High that he remembered “years ago, when we had metal shop and wood shop here, and they were quite popular. For whatever reason, they fell off, and now, we’re bringing them back, and we could not be more pleased.”

Laborers District Council leader Boyer, who also heads the Philadelphia & Vicinity Building & Construction Trades Council, urged the young male and female students in the class on Thursday to “take advantage of this tremendous opportunity.”

Boyer said if the students successfully complete this pre-apprenticeship program, and then a even more structured union apprenticeship, they can graduate into union jobs that pay anywhere from $70,000 to $140,000 a year.

“Do not let this opportunity pass you by,” Boyer told the students.

Boyer’s and Clarke’s enthusiasm for the CTE program was echoed by Council’s Education Committee Chair, Isaiah Thomas and Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, a strong supporter of CTE education for Philadelphia high school students.

“If you want to work hard, you have a career here,” Thomas told the students. “And guess what? Once you know a skill, you can open a business, and guess what your salary is then? Unlimited.”

Gilmore Richardson offered similar support for CTE training. “A union job is your ticket to the middle class,” she told the students. “Your union job is your ticket to a better life and a better opportunity.”

To further illustrate the opportunity, Boyer brought with him to the press conference Tylisa Williams, a building trades apprentice who came and shared her experience with the students. Williams told them she stayed in a hotel in Chester County during her apprentice training – to ensure she would never be late for her classes.

“After finishing that program, I’ve been given opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. This is possible for you too,” she told the students.

Pennsylvania Senator Sharif Street attended the press conference, and he spoke of the strong correlation between poverty and violence. “The best social program in the world is a good-paying job,” Street said.

Dr. Watlington, Philadelphia’s new School Superintendent, listened to all the testimonials for the District’s new CTE program, and said he and his team would monitor the progress carefully at the high school. He called growing the CTE program a priority for the School District.


Councilmembers Jim Harrity (At Large) and Mike Driscoll (6th District) this week introduced a resolution in Council calling on the General Assembly to allow the City of Philadelphia to enact its own minimum wage laws, allowing the city to increase the starting hourly rate that’s been the same for the last 14 years.

Since 2009, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania has been $7.25 per hour. Under the state’s Minimum Wage Act, the City of Philadelphia does not have the authority to create its own minimum wage that appropriately reflects the city’s cost of living. When the rate is adjusted for Philadelphia’s actual cost of living, it decreases to $6.69 per hour, marking it the fourth-lowest real minimum wage in a major U.S. city.

“Philadelphians are subjected to higher costs of living than the rest of the Commonwealth, and having the minimum wage decided by officials across the state hurts working people,” said Councilmember Driscoll. “Many Philadelphians are experiencing an economic crisis as renters face record amounts of back-rent, rising costs of goods and services, and stagnant wages. “The current rate is not enough for an individual to support their family, especially in a city with a quarter of the population living in poverty.”

According to the MIT-Living-Wage-Calculator, two roommates working full time trying to live in Philadelphia must each earn roughly 11.8% more than if they resided in Mifflin County, one of the lowest costs of living counties in the state.

“Minimum wage is more than just a labor issue – it’s a human right to earn a decent living to provide themselves and their family,” said Councilmember Harrity. “For too long, that right has not been modified by our state legislators to account for increases in costs of living for the past 14 years. It is up to us, as representatives of what is the poorest big city in the country to stand up for Philadelphians and demand higher wages.”

In May 2019, Philadelphians overwhelmingly supported a $15 per hour minimum wage for city workers and contractors by 2025. Across the nation, most progress on raising the wage has come from cities and states. For example, California has succeeded in raising its minimum wage to $15.50 effective January 1, 2023. Los Angeles however has had its minimum wage at $16.04 since July 1, 2022.

Previous attempts to pass legislation to increase the minimum wage have failed and neither the General Assembly nor prior Governors have been able to succeed in changing the minimum wage laws.


Last year, City Council passed Bill No. 210685-AA to make school facilities safer for students, educators, and all who enter School District-owned buildings. The bill effectively requires buildings to obtain a Special Certificate of Inspection to show compliance with asbestos removal and other “property-related hazards.” In response to this bill which puts the health of children and our educational community first, the School District has sued the City of Philadelphia.

In response, Councilmember and Education Committee Chair Isaiah Thomas and Council President Darrell L. Clarke released the following joint statement:

“As Chair of City Council’s Education Committee and President of City Council, we work to utilize every power that City Council has – such as legislation, hearings, and the budget – to ensure better educational outcomes for our students. We cannot discuss goals such as improving safety, curriculum, and climate if the physical school buildings are not safe. Education Chair Thomas has been demanding a capital plan from School District leadership for months now, as this crisis is not new. It’s unfortunate that the School District has decided that this must be addressed in court, rather than providing a comprehensive plan to modernize and safeguard our schools.”

“We have seen firsthand the troubling disparities among schools. To respond to a plan to get rid of asbestos and other hazards with a lawsuit reinforces that the School District is working to maintain the status quo, rather than working collaboratively to bring our schools into the 21st Century. While lawyers battle this legislation in court, we are committed to using our offices to ensure that our young people and school faculty are adequately cared for and heard.”



Councilmember Gilmore Richardson Introduces Resolution Honoring Girls High on its 175th Anniversary. The iconic high school was founded in 1848 to “prepare teachers for the common schools of Philadelphia.” It was the first municipally funded high school for girls in the United States.

Founded initially to train women teachers, the school was soon expanded to provide full academic training; and offered three distinct curricula, classical liberal arts training, business training, and scientific training for careers in medicine. Girls High has a long and impressive history of alumnae who’ve gone on to significant careers:

Jessie Redmon Fauset (1900), poet, author and the godmother of the Harlem Renaissance; Pauline Oberdorfer Minor (1910), singer and composer, founding member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Constance Clayton (January 1952), the first woman and African American to lead the Philadelphia Public School system; Gloria Allred (June 1959), noted women’s rights attorney; Judith Rodin (January 1962), the first woman President of the University of Pennsylvania and former President of the Rockefeller Foundation; Karen Hastie Williams (June 1962), the first African-American woman to clerk for the Supreme Court; and many others.

Three of Girls High’s illustrious graduates, Dr. Clayton, Blondell Reynolds Brown, a longtime former City Councilmember, and the resolution’s prime sponsor, Councilmember Gilmore Richardson, attended Thursday’s Council Meeting.

Council President Clarke Submits resolution Introduced Seeking Crime Gun Data. The resolution, introduced for Clarke by Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), urges the U.S. Congress to repeal the so-called Tiahrt Amendment, a burdensome federal law that greatly restricts the ability of police departments and law enforcement to share gun trace data in an attempt to track and interrupt the flow of deadly firearms across state lines.

The resolution urges Congress to pass the Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act, introduced last session by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-13), which would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment.

The resolution notes the continuing epidemic of gun violence in Philadelphia, with over 2,000 shootings last year – and 516 homicides, and it states that the federal restrictions on obtaining and sharing crime gun data across state and municipal lines makes the jobs of law enforcement that much harder to solve gun crimes.

“Release of this firearm trace data would allow researchers, including City officials and members of the public, to better understand the sources of crime guns that are proliferating in our neighborhoods,” the resolution states.

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Introduces Resolution honoring the life of DJ Jerry Blavat. Blavat, a local icon of popular music on the radio for over 50 years, died recently, and Councilmember Johnson’s resolution saluted the life and times of “The Geator with the Heater” and “Boss with the Hot Sauce.”

Blavat was born and raised in South Philadelphia. As he rose to fame as a radio DJ, the resolution stated, he was an early advocate of music by Black artists that was often marketed to just Black audiences. Where many radio stations played white artists covering songs by Black artists, Blavat played the originals and supported artists like Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin early in their career. Blavat’s tireless promotion of pioneering Black artists of the 1950s and 1960s shaped the pop music culture of the city.

“Blavat’s insatiable energy and love for music shaped the culture of Philadelphia’s music and touched the lives of many. His impact on Philadelphia will be felt for generations and artists to come,” the resolution stated.


Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities 1-23-2023

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council 1-26-2023

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 2, 2023 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.

Go Birds!

Featured Photo: Jared Piper/PHLCouncil

Print Friendly, PDF & Email