How a Council Bill Requiring More Parking Could Backfire

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

PlanPhilly reported yesterday that the City Planning Commission and a number of community groups are having a rough time coming to terms with a bill that would increase the amount of off-street parking developers are required to provide when they build new houses and apartments.

If you’re someone who has ever struggled to find parking in the city, the bill might strike you as a good idea. More off-street parking for residents means more on-street parking for everyone else, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. And in the long run, it could make parking more difficult and housing more expensive. My former colleague Ashley Hahn has the whole thing in a nutshell right here, but here it is in an even smaller nutshell. Read more »

Henon: “To My Knowledge,” the FBI Hasn’t Contacted My Office

Photo via City Council's Flickr

Photo via City Council’s Flickr

Thursday was City Council’s first meeting of its fall session, which also marked the first day that Councilman Bobby Henon, whose office was raided by the FBI a month ago, had to face a scrum of reporters.

In case you haven’t been following HenonWatch 2016 over here at Philly Mag, we’ve been trying to get him to answer questions about the FBI raid on August 5th. That was the same day that the feds searched the home of John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, the leader of IBEW Local 98, the union that also pays Henon as a consultant. We’re all still sort of in the dark about the nature of the investigation, and Henon hasn’t been turning the lights on. Read more »

Yes, Black Lives Matter Has an Agenda — and Philadelphians Helped Write It

Last week, | Photo by Maria McGeary

Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated on Broad Street during the Democratic National Convention last week. | Photo by Maria McGeary

Don’t say Black Lives Matter doesn’t have an agenda.

The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 organizations around the country that represent African-Americans, released a six-point platform on Monday. It includes demands for reparations, adequate education funding, the end of the death penalty, and the decriminalization of drugs.

At least two local groups are part of that coalition: the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice and the Philadelphia Student Union.

“This is a huge milestone. We needed to take it to the next level,” said Asa Khalif, leader of the Pennsylvania chapter of Black Lives Matter and a member of the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice. “We really needed as Black Lives Matters activists to come in solidarity and say, ‘This is where we stand. This is our list of demands, so there is no misunderstanding.'”
Read more »

WATCH: Supercut of Darrell Clarke Attacking Donald Trump

Last week, Hillary Clinton’s campaign opened its first field office in North Philadelphia, near Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

City Council President Darrell Clarke spoke at that opening, and he spoke at length (well, 90 seconds) about Donald Trump while rallying the troops. We here at Philadelphia magazine figured you might enjoy that 90 seconds, so we made a supercut of all of Clarke’s comments about Trump. Enjoy!

Kudos to City Council for Standing Up to the Powerful Soda Lobby

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Rev. James Hall Jr. | Photo via Philadelphians for a Fair Future

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Rev. James Hall Jr. Hall is the pastor of Triumph Baptist Church in Germantown.)

Philadelphia City Council said yes to historic, heroic legislation last week. Three- and four-year-olds who have been on wait lists will now have access to quality pre-K. Children who go to school too hungry or traumatized by neighborhood violence to learn will now have access to resources right in their community school. Neighborhood libraries, rec centers and parks that have long suffered from neglect will now be rebuilt. However, many Philadelphians have not heard about these programs that will be supported by the soda tax because the same soda industry lobbyists who have been lying to residents for months with claims of “grocery taxes” have only ramped up their deceitful tactics in recent days. Read more »

Will Philly’s Soda Tax Make Coca-Cola the Next Philip Morris?

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Images via iStock.com

In 1973, Arizona became the first state in America to restrict smoking in some public places. Four years later, Berkeley, Calif., became the first city in the nation to limit smoking in restaurants and other public places. Soon thereafter, the state of California, San Francisco and New York City enacted their own smoking bans. Fast-forward to today: Thirty states and 812 municipalities have smoke-free laws on the books.

A few decades from now, will we look back and remember Philadelphia as the city that paved the way for governments across the country to tax soda, much like Arizona and Berkeley did for smoking bans?

That’s what some sugary drinks tax advocates predict, and they make a pretty convincing case.  Read more »

Council’s Resident Realtor Just Voted Against a Tax Hike on Real Estate Sales

Photo of Allan Domb in the lobby of Parc Rittenhouse by Laura Kicey Read more at http://www.phillymag.com/tag/allan-domb/#yov81b2TdtFSVoOi.99

Allan Domb in the lobby of Parc Rittenhouse. | Photo by Laura Kicey

A City Council committee voted 6-2 on Thursday to approve a small increase in the real estate transfer tax, which is levied when houses and other properties are sold.

The proposal was introduced on behalf of City Council President Darrell Clarke. Clarke wants the city to sell a $100 million bond and put the proceeds toward the Basic Systems Repair Program, which helps fix heating and plumbing systems for low-income homeowners, as well as a new program that makes low-cost loans for home repairs to middle-income homeowners. Revenue from the .1 percent increase to the transfer tax that the committee approved on Thursday would be used to pay down the debt on that bond.

Councilman Allan Domb, a Philadelphia realtor who earned the nickname of “Condo King” in the years before he ran for office, voted against the proposal on Thursday, saying he thinks the city should be able to find money for the Basic Systems Repair Program without raising a tax. Of course, it’s a tax that affects realtors more than many others. Read more »

Clarke Calls 3-Cent Soda Tax “Divisive,” Says It Won’t Pass

Kenney_Clarke

Photos by Jeff Fusco

Some City Council members argue that a 15-cent tax on beverage containers is more fair than a three-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks because it would affect a broad swath of consumers rather than targeting low-income communities, who tend to drink the most soda.

But it would be harder to avoid, the Kenney administration says, which would ultimately make it more regressive, while doing away with any possible public health benefits a soda tax might generate. Plus, the container tax wouldn’t raise enough money to fund the expansion of pre-K classes, the creation of community schools, and the rebuilding of parks and rec centers that Mayor Jim Kenney has made the priority of his first year in office. At least not at the rate he wants to fund them.

City Council and the Kenney administration have just a few weeks to sort this out before their drop-dead deadline to pass a budget. At a hearing on Wednesday, Council President Darrell Clarke made his stance surprisingly clear: “Everyone on this side of the table knows that there’s not going to be a 3-cents-an-ounce tax,” he told Kenney’s finance director, Rob Dubow. Read more »

Councilwoman Wants to Tax Containers Instead of Soda

L: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown ( ) R: Image via Alexander Kaiser, pooliestudios.com

L: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council) R: Image via Alexander Kaiser, pooliestudios.com

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown will introduce a bill on Thursday levying a tax on beverage containers as an alternative to Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed soda tax, sources familiar with the plan told Philly Mag on Wednesday. Read more »

Helen Gym Calls for Investigation of School Police Use of Force

Stills from the original video posted on Facebook by the Philadelphia Student Union.

Stills from the original video posted on Facebook by the Philadelphia Student Union.

Councilwoman Helen Gym sent a letter on Tuesday to the School District and the School Reform Commission calling for an investigation of an incident at Benjamin Franklin High School last week in which a student accused a school police officer of assault. The officer was filmed restraining the student, sparking condemnation on social media. A spokesman for the District told Philly Mag last week that the incident is being investigated, and that the officer had been reassigned.  Read more »

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