City Council Report: Week of September 26th, 2022

Philadelphia City Council meeting on September 29th, 2022

Gun violence once again dominated the city council agenda, with the Roxborough High shooting taking center stage. Click below to read more.

Majority Leader Curtis Jones introduced a resolution calling for hearings of the Joint Committees on Public Safety and Health and Human Services to investigate the mapping of trauma centers throughout the city and how they are selected when transporting shooting victims.

The impetus for the resolution was, in part, the Roxborough High School shooting which claimed the life of a 14 year old. Jones said the victim was transported from Roxborugh to Einstein Medical Center, despite Roxborugh having its own hospital.

“Why don’t we know which hospitals have trauma units,” Jones asked. “And how long does it take to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ when you’re suffering a gunshot wound?”

Jones said the hearing were meant to be done in conjunction with state and federal agencies to determine whether there are funding gaps hindering hospitals having trauma units.

The Pennsylvania Trauma Levels Foundation accredits Pennsylvania trauma centers and breaks them down into four levels, with Level I Trauma Centers treating the most urgent medical conditions.

Currenlty, Philadelphia has six Level I Trauma Centers; Einstein Medical Center, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, St. Christopher’s Hosptial, Temple University Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Councilmember Helen Gym said 178 children had been shot in Philadelphia this year, with two dozen being killed. Gym called for a clear and immediate plan to deal with gun violence.

“We need conflict mediation on the ground,” Gym said. “We’ve said we need violence interrupters on the ground. When 80% of our shootings are going without an arrest, much less a conviction being made.”

Gym said the city needed a community partnership based around deescalation and progressional mediation intervention, and that similar programs had worked in other cities. Gym also said there was no strategic program to work with the most at-risk young people.

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas discussed the Collaborative Recommendations for Addressing Gun Violence he released last week, which offered suggestions for various city departments in how they handle gun violence.

Thomas said gun violence could not be adequately addressed without considering poverty, schools, and housing, but there are steps the city can take now to help reduce…

“We are seeing issues around witnesses showing up and police officers showing up to court,” Thomas said. “These are clerical problems as it relates to communicating things to people. One of our recommendations is $3 million to protect witnesses and victims.”

Thomas also suggested $4 million in beautification projects, additional funds for more cameras, and a 100-day plan beginning immediately to implement some of the plan’s recommendations.

Councilmember Cindy Bass lamented the fact that frequent gun violence has become normalized.

“There is nothing normal about the death of a 14 year old on a football field, or the other 23 children who have been murdered in the city of Philadelphia thorugh gun violence this year,” Bass said.

Bass implored the community to consider what to do if a suspected shooter lives in their home, telling parents to search their child’s room if the situation calls for such action.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson referenced the death of Parks and Recreation employee Tiffany Fletcher, who was killed at a recreation center, while addressing the Roxborough High School shooting. She also discussed her own personal tragedy.

“I lost a cousin to gun violence in July; shot 60 times in North Philadelphia with semi-automatic weapons,” Gilmore Richrdson said. “It is just deeply disheartening to see what is happening across our community.”

Councilmember Kendra Brooks introduced a resolution urging the Pennsylvania State Senate and Governor Tom Wolf to pass House Bill 1419, known as the “Dignity for Incarcerated Women” Act, which would improve the conditions and treatment of pregnant people in Pennsylvania’s jails and prisons.

The resolution references the increase of pregnant incarcerated women, who are disproportionately Black, and would ban shakling pregnant people to their beds. The Act would also provide free period and incontinence products, three days of post-delivery bonding time for the mother and newborn infant, and improve visitation rights for incarcerated parents.

Brooks said she was aware of the issue because of work she had done with incarcerated women.

“Childbirth is hard enough,” Brooks said. “Just imagine doing it while being shackled. It’s not healthy for the woman or the child.”

Also present at the stated meeting this week were members of the striking Philadelphia Art Museum Union, who came to council to discuss their plight and offer a glimpse at the inequity they are facing.

Union President Adam Rizzo said the museum pays 30% below comparable wages at other museums with similar budgets, and the health care plan is atrocious.

“So we’re fighting for a living wage and affordable health care,”Rizzo said. “At this point, we haven’t had raises in three years, and inflation is at 5.5%.”

Rizzo said the museum offers have been insulting thus far, barely raising salaries and not addressing health care costs.

“90% of us are on a high-deductible plan,” Rizzo said. “The next plan up, which is an HMO, is unaffordable to us. It’s about $300 a month for our employees while some in the unit are making $15 per hour.”

The Art Museum has hired noted labor-busting law firm Morgan Lewis for representation during the negotiations.

Those who wish to be supportive of the union’s efforts can contribute to their strike fund.

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