City Council: Jones Calls for Education Hearings; Johnson Examines Hilco Site

Education Hearings

Councilmember Curtis Jones introduced three resolutions calling on the Public Safety and Education committees to hold joining hearings.

The first resolution authorizes the joint committee to examine the School District of Philadelphia’s use of in-school and out-of-school suspension, as well as other “disciplinary tactics to understand what actions merit such a penalty.”

The resolution states that while the school district creates and implements overall policy, individual schools can set their own additional policies, including matters involving discipline.

According to the resolution, in-school suspensions are structured to provide an academic component while serving the punishment.

The second resolution authorizes the joint committee to “examine the status of capital programs for infrastructure repair as well as for toxic hazard remediation in Philadelphia’s public schools.”

The resolution defines a capital plan as “a short-range plan that identifies needs for upcoming capital purchases and repairs and provides a timeline for these purposes. Capital projects are projects to construct either new facilities or make significant, long-term renewal improvements to existing facilities.”

There are several schools in the district facing severe infrastructure issues, including some buildings experiencing “toxic hazards.”

The resolution makes mention of the current lawsuit the district filed against city council regarding the implementation of a recently passed law requiring all Philadelphia schools be inspected for environmental safety issues by 2025.

The third resolution authorizes the joint committee to “hold public hearings to examine statistics for in-school violence protocols, student-to-student violence, parent-to-parent violence, and teacher safety.”

There are several specific incidents of violence mentioned in the resolution, including an incident where students and their family members converged at Thomas Edison High School, resulting in arrests.

The resolution also mentions teachers feel unsafe, which has led to staff shortages this school year and accuses the district of failing to report on violent incidents, creating an unclear picture of the full scope of the problem.

Hilco Site Hearing

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson offered a resolution authorizing the Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities to hold hearings on the status of the Hilco Redevelopment Partners proposed Bellwether District Development project.”

Prior to its sale, the site was the location of a Sunoco refinery, which had subjected the nearly 100,000 residents who live near the location to environmental pollution, and was the location of a severe 2019 fire and explosion that ultimately led to the refinery closing.

According to Hilco’s website, “The Bellwether District will be Philly’s new home for e-commerce, life sciences, and logistics leaders. It will be a global model of sustainable development and design. It will connect the world’s seas, skies, rails, and roads to the people and businesses of Philadelphia.”

The resolution touts the project as a potential economic engine, creating 19,000 jobs in areas such as e-commerce and logistics. In addition to the jobs, the resolution says Hilco will embark on a four-year waste clean-up plan that will remove 35,000 tons of asbestos, 850,000 barrels of hydrocarbons, 100 buildings, and 950 miles of underground pipeline.

Thomas Supports Striking Grad Students

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas introduced a resolution in support of the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA), which began a labor strike last week.

The resolution calls on Temple University to return to the negotiating table with the TUGSA, whose collective bargaining agreement expired over a year ago.

Currently, TUGSA members earn, on average, $19,500 per year in addition to tuition remission and health insurance. However, Temple revoked benefits for graduate students participating in the strike.

“This retaliatory and cruel move is an attack on unions, not just at Temple or in education, but unions everywhere,” Thomas said in a statement.

Oh Proposes Charter Change

Councilmember David Oh offered a bill and resolution changing the city charter to create a Music Office, which, according to the legislation, “could provide a consolidated list of internships, co-op opportunities, and jobs to the local music community.”

The recommendation to create the office came from The Music Industry Task Force, which began its work in 2017, which is a facet of the work Oh has been doing in regards to the city’s creative economy.

According to the resolution, the creative economy “generates $4.1 billion in total economic impact which equates to 55,000 full-time jobs, $1.3 billion in household income and $224.3 million in state and local taxes.”

Charter changes must be approved by council and then placed on the ballot at a subsequent election.

Law and Government Committee Recommends Budget Stabilization Bill

The Committee on Law and Government met on February 6th, 2023, to hear testimony on multiple pieces of legislation, including Bill No. 220773, which would change the city charter to include changes for how the city operates the Budget Stabilization Reserve.

The legislation, if approved by voters via a ballot referendum, would allow the city to keep a total of up to 17% of the city operating budget in reserve. The revenue projections as of February 14th each year will be used to set the specific amount to be placed into the reserve.

The legislation also lays out stipulations on specific percentages:

(1) Such amounts as remain unencumbered in the Budget Stabilization Reserve from the
prior fiscal year, including any investment earnings certified by the Director of Finance; plus

(2) When, as of the first business day after February 14, the Projected General Fund
Balance for the end of the current fiscal year [to which the operating budget relates (the
“upcoming fiscal year”), without taking into account any deposits to the Budget Stabilization
Reserve required by this subsection (2),] equals or exceeds:
(i) three percent (3%) of, but is less than five percent (5%) of, projected General Fund
Revenues for end of the current fiscal year, [for the upcoming fiscal year,] an amount equal to
three-quarters of one percent (.75%) of projected Unrestricted Local General Fund Revenues for
the upcoming fiscal year;
(ii) five percent (5%) of, but is less than eight percent (8%) of, projected General Fund
Revenues for the end of the current fiscal year, an amount equal to one percent (1.0%) of
projected Unrestricted Local General Fund Revenues for the upcoming fiscal year; or
(iii) eight percent (8%) of projected General Fund Revenues for the end of the current
fiscal year, the amount that exceeds such eight percent (8%) threshold or (1.0%) of projected
Unrestricted Local General Fund Revenues for the upcoming fiscal year, whichever is greater;

(3) Such additional amounts as the Council shall authorize by ordinance, no later than at
the time of passage of the annual operating budget ordinance and only upon recommendation of
the Mayor.

The legislation was supported by administration officials as well as the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

Legislation Passed On February 9th, 2023

Resolution No. 230062

Urging the U.S Congress to pass H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. Click here to read more.

Resolution No. 230063

Authorizing the Philadelphia Land Bank to dispose of 2252 Hope Street and 2309 Palethorp Street located in the 7th Councilmanic District in accordance with the terms of Chapter 16-700 of The Philadelphia Code. Click here to read more.

Resolution No. 230068

Approving the redevelopment contract of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for the redevelopment and urban renewal of a portion of the Independence Mall Urban Renewal Area, Unit No. 4, identified by house number and street address as 217-253 North Ninth street; and authorizing the Redevelopment Authority to execute the redevelopment contract with 800 Vine Senior Housing LLC and to take such action as may be necessary to effectuate the redevelopment contract. Click here to learn more.

Resolution No. 220689

Appointing Miquon Brinkley to the Board of Directors for the Old City Special Services District. Click here to read more.

Resolution No. 220690

Appointing Jeffrey Brown to the Board of Directors for the Old City Special Services District. Click here to read more.

Resolution No. 221036

Appointing Paul Badger to the Board of Directors of the Center City District. Click here to read more.

Resolution No. 221037

Appointing Valerija Beares to the Board of Directors of the Center City District. Click here to read more.

Resolution No. 221038

Appointing Anna Boni to the Board of Directors of the Center City District. Click here to read more.

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