Maria Quiñones-Sánchez Wants to Make Philly the “BCorp Capital of the World”

Maria Quinones-Sanchez | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Maria Quiñones-Sánchez | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Sometimes, a business can do well by doing good.

That’s the idea behind so-called “BCorps” — businesses that pledge to achieve social goals while making profits. It’s an idea that’s gained popularity in the post-recession era — and attracted the eye of Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez. On Thursday, she introduced a pair of bills to attract and keep such businesses in the city.

“BCorps keep an eye on the triple bottom line — people, planet and profit — proving that you can do well and also do good,” Sánchez said in a press release announcing the initiatives. “By expanding our existing sustainability incentives, we can make Philadelphia the BCorp capital of the world.” Read more »

New Bill Would Wipe Out Older Parking Fines

iStock/hidesy

iStockphoto/hidesy

Have you gotten a ticket for parking in a loading zone or overstaying the two-hour parking restrictions? Did you do it more than three years ago and never pay the ticket? And have the specters of the fines and late fees been hanging in the back of your mind like a dark cloud? Well, there’s hope: If one councilwoman has her way, those old fines could be erased.

City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell has introduced a bill in City Council which would give Philadelphians amnesty for old parking fines. “Any person owing fines, fees or penalties for parking violations issued three or more years ago, shall be eligible for a one-time forgiveness of said fines, fees and penalties,” reads the councilwoman’s proposed amendment to the Philadelphia Code‘s section on parking violations. Read more »

Council Looks to Create a Commission on Youth Gun Violence

Photo by iStock.com/Rex Wholster

Photo by iStock.com/Rex Wholster

The Philadelphia City Council appears ready to ask voters to approve a new commission to seek answers to the city’s ongoing problem with gun violence.

All 17 members of the Council have signed on as co-sponsors to a new resolution, introduced last week, which would create a Commission on Youth Gun Violence. Philadelphia voters would be asked to amend the city charter to create the commission.  Read more »

Opinion: Uber Discriminates Against Pregnant Women

Uber Pregnant

Shutterstock.com

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Hannah Sassaman.)

Today, I’m 38 weeks pregnant. While I’m mildly (to hugely) unprepared for the roller coaster I know will hit when labor starts, my little family of three is excited to grow. One resource I’ve considered tapping for our ride to the hospital — a resource that has entered the scene since my daughter was born — is Uber.

I labored with my daughter through Hurricane Irene in August of 2011. Our neighbors’ leaf-stuffed gutters overflowed through our window casings, bringing the storm into my bedroom as I paced through my contractions. By the time we were ready to go to the hospital, the only bridge left open between my West Philly home and Center City — taking us to Pennsylvania Hospital, more than 40 blocks away — was Chestnut Street. My husband drove at less than 10 miles per hour through the eye of the storm, through quiet, wet, humid streets.

For this round, we’ve been seriously considering skipping the drive and using Uber to get to the hospital. Uber has a killer mobile app, and payments happen automatically. It’s easy to see why the business has been growing exponentially around the world.

But Uber has its own risks for me and other Philadelphians — including marked discrimination against people who use wheelchairs, people with service animals, and, now, pregnant women in labor. Read more »

Millennials Won — Mark Squilla’s “Promoters Bill” Is Dead

Mark Squilla

Councilman Mark Squilla | Photo courtesy of City Council’s Flickr

City Councilman Mark Squilla has decided to scrap his virally unpopular “Promoters Bill,” which came under fire last week from musicians, millennials and First Amendment advocates. The proposal would have required music venues to collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of performers for city police.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday that Squilla “had planned to amend the legislation, but decided it was too tainted by controversy” to carry on. “There’s been so much confusion and misinformation about the bill,” he told the newspaper, “that even if we struck that out, some people would show up to oppose it not understanding what they were opposing.”

Squilla says he’ll start from scratch on a new bill, this time while consulting the music industry. He insists that his goal all along was to ensure that every venue in the city paid an annual $100 licensing fee, including those that stream music from iPhones. Read more »

6 Times City Council Tried to Screw with Our Fun

Photos like this one from Union Transfer make our legislators' hair stand on end. (Photo courtesy Dan Long Photography)

Photos like this one from Union Transfer make our legislators’ hair stand on end. (Photo courtesy Dan Long Photography)

There’s nothing like a group of municipal lawmakers to ruin a good time, and Philadelphia’s City Council seems to be especially well versed in the art. Here are six ways that our elected officials have tried to mess with our leisure-time activity, starting in 2000 and rolling right through this week:

Thou Shall Not Rock and Roll

Sometimes, a terrible City Council idea goes away, never to be heard from again. And other times, it returns, like a hacking winter cough that you thought you shook a week ago. Such is the case with the Promoter’s Bill.

In 2010, Councilmen Darrell Clarke and Bill Greenlee introduced Bill No. 100267, which sought to force promoters — whether they were promoting a DJ night at Silk City, a DIY concert in West Philly, a comedy night at Raven Lounge, or a touring artist at the TLA — to register with the city and to notify the police of each show no more than 30 days before the event. Every event. They also wanted promoters to tell the city how much they were paying the venues. After pretty much every person in the city under the age of 30 became outraged at this suggestion, the idea basically went away. Well, until this week.

Let us introduce you to our little friend: Bill 160016. Different number. Same stupid fucking idea, more or less. Earlier this week, word came that Councilman Mark Squilla wanted to require all promoters to apply for special licenses, and he also said that all performers should register their names and other personal information if they want the privilege of getting on stage here. Now that his idea has gone viral, he appears to be backtracking a bit, so who knows where this is going to end up? We can just see it now. Finally, the Led Zeppelin reunion happens, and before the band is allowed to play at Citizens Bank Park, Squilla asks, “But Mr. Page, what is your home address these days?” Read more »

What Comes After the SRC If It’s Abolished?

oh schools

Left, City Council Flickr. Right, Jeff Fusco.

When education advocates envision a possible replacement for the School Reform Commission, all kinds of ideas are on the table: How about an elected board? An appointed board? Who would do the appointing? How would charter schools be represented?

Councilman David Oh’s answer? Let’s try a little bit of everything. Read more »

Lawmakers Fight for Muslim Holidays to Be Recognized in Philly

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

A group of activists erupted in applause at City Hall Thursday when lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution calling on the city and school district to recognize two Muslim holidays: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. “When we submitted this, the question that came from some good, well-intentioned people was, ‘Well, why now? And should we do this now?'” said Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., who sponsored the legislation. “The best time to dispel myths, the best time to find good-spirited people, is in the height of controversy.”

The Philadelphia Eid Coalition has been fighting since last year to convince officials to observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The School District of Philadelphia currently closes schools on Christmas, Good Friday, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and even Columbus Day, but not on those two Muslim holidays. The city government, meanwhile, does not officially recognize either Muslim or Jewish holy days.

Jones, who practices Islam, says it is more important than ever to make Muslim people feel included in Philadelphia.

“Young people needed to know that they’re welcome in this building and in this city,” he said, “so that nobody can come along and lead them astray to some anti-American kind of environment.” Read more »

Insider: Like Wall Street Bankers, Philly Pols Get a Golden Parachute

Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. Photo | City Council Flickr

Former Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. | Photo courtesy of City Council Flickr

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.) 

How many Sherlock Holmes mysteries have we read where, at the end, our sophisticated sleuth declares that the murder weapon was hidden in plain sight? The lesson is: Never fail to connect the dots that are evident.

These little clumps of wisdom, and more, slowly swooped through my mind as I read that City Council President Darrell Clarke had hired W. Wilson Goode, Jr. as a senior policy advisor. You’ll recall that Goode had walked the dimly lit halls of City Council since 2000. But he lost his bid for yet another term last year, and faced the cold, cruel prospect of life outside the Council Bubble.

Goode was a respected, progressive legislator who passed more than 140 bills in his career, but the idea of him — or any politician — making a permanent living on the public payroll is upsetting. It suggests the self-dealing chicanery of former Council members Marian Tasco and the late Joan Krajewski, both of whom faked their own retirements in order to collect huge pension payouts. Read more »

Philadelphia Recognizes Columbus Day, But Not Any Muslim Holidays

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. in City Council’s chambers. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

If you’re a city employee who wants to celebrate the Muslim holidays, you currently have to decide whether to use a personal or vacation day to take off work. Unlike Christmas, Good Friday or even Columbus Day, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha aren’t recognized by the city.

City Councilman Curtis Jones is hoping to change that. On Thursday, he will introduce a bill that would ask to make Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha official municipal holidays. A group known as the Philadelphia Eid Coalition has been petitioning since last year to have the holidays observed.

“It’s a fairness issue,” said Michael Rashid, former CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas and organizer of Philadelphia Eid Coalition. “There is a substantial Muslim population in Philadelphia and they feel marginalized.” Read more »

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