Legendary former City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski passed away at 79 early this morning. She had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and was using an oxygen tank to mitigate the disease effects after an esophagus surgery she endured several years ago.
Having retired in late 2011, Krajewski served the 6th District since 1980, with her feisty, fiery nature garnering her the designation of a “legendary and approachable” political leader in the works of her successor, Councilman Bobby Henon.
Krajewski was known for the strong representation she gave her constituency, addressing everything from prison overpopulation to absentee landlords in her 30-plus year career. She is also the Councilperson behind the Community Life Improvement Program, an effort Krajewski was massively proud of toward the end of her career. [Philly.com]
When Vince Fumo was hauled off to a Kentucky prison, there were murmurs that one day we might miss him. And now, we do. It’s almost axiomatic that if Fumo were still in Harrisburg, the nuclear meltdown of our city’s education system wouldn’t be happening. Fumo was a politico who commanded the descriptors “ruthless” and “genius,” someone whose legacy has only grown over time until we now seem him as a guy who could throw a few officials in a room and come out with a saved school system and some extra economic development grant money.
But Fumo is under very spacious house arrest, and we don’t appear to have any representatives capable of the the kind of political Jedi mind tricks he was. So local lawmakers, desperately seeking some way, any way, to freshen our crop of faces in Harrisburg, have found an outmoded Charter provision ripe for abolition: The resign-to-run law. Its repeal is likely coming to a ballot box near you May 2014. Read more »
If this week’s bizarre Clarke-Nutter pissing match over school funding wasn’t signal enough that the Council Prez has bigger ambitions, Darrell’s got a new website up.
Yes, Darrell Clarke’s term is up in 2015, but this really, really doesn’t look like a freaking City Council re-election website. A spokesman for Clarke, who appears to be on vacation, did not immediately respond to my questions about the site. Not that anyone from the Clarke camp is going to say anything anyways. H/T Daily News
The demolition industry in Philadelphia is an “open field” of contractors, some good but some sloppy, overseen by a system of self-policing, according to expert testimony before City Council’s committee charged with inspecting the city’s demolition processes.
The third day of the Special Investigative Committee on Demolition Practices was intended to focus on interagency coordination in licensing and inspecting demolition projects in the city to prevent another 2136 Market St., which, given the rate at which “imminently dangerous” properties are demolished in the city (963 in the past two years), is an ongoing concern. But the primary point of interest turned out not to be how the Department of Revenue interacts with Licenses & Inspections (L&I) which interacts with the Streets Department; it was how those contractors themselves actually communicate with the city.
Philadelphia magazine has seen official documentation indicating that Brown has been under investigation by U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger and that John McDaniel, her former campaign manager, has cooperated with the investigation.
Former Congressman William H. Gray III, 71, passed away Monday in London, according to his Washington, DC office. A widely influential figure in local and national Politics, Rev. Grey served as the mentor for a generation of African American politicians that includes the likes of Rep. Chaka Fattah, former Councilman George Burrell, City Councilwoman Marian Tasco and Rep. Louise Bishop. He was attending the tennis matches at Wimbledon with his son Andrew at the time of his death, which spokesman Bill Epstein described as “sudden.” The cause of death has not yet been announced.
Local politicians reacted sympathetically to Rev. Gray’s death, with Mayor Nutter telling the Inquirer he was “”stunned, saddened and hurt” at the Reverend’s passing. Councilwoman remembered Gray’s oration as “short, sweet, to the point.” Former Councilman George Burrell called Rev. Gray one of the “transformative leaders in Philadelphia.” In Harrisburg, the house paused for a moment of silence at the news of his death.
Before his passing, Rev. Gray served as the chairman emeritus of Gray Global Advisors, a Washington consultancy he founded after stepping down as president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund. His representation of the of Second Congressional District of Pennsylvania earlier in his career allowed him to rise to Majority Whip in the House of Representatives, the first African American to do so in the 20th century. His work in Congress shaped the country’s foreign policy efforts and generated resources for international aid. He left in 1991 to lead the college fund.
As a proponent of social justice, his work goes unrivaled, and he will be hugely missed—both in Philadelphia and beyond. [Philly.com]
City Council’s on vacation, beginning…now. On its last day of the current legislative term, the gang of 17 approved the Mayor’s 2014 budget, along with a gentrification relief measure that will give property tax deferrals to low-income residents getting hammered by AVI. What it didn’t do might prove more significant, however: Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez declined to bring her proposed Use and Occupancy Tax to a vote, which would have generated $30 million for the school district. Having raised somewhere around $75 million through a cigarette tax increase and other improved tax collection measures, Council now passes the baton to the state and the teacher’s union, which must fill the rest of the District’s $300 million shortfall.
What’s with the smirk on Philadelphia Councilman Bill Green’s face? He’s reacting to City Council President Darrell Clarke saying “we shot our load” on schools funding. Green was actually the last to react to Clarke’s poor choice of words, with Kenyatta Johnson and Bobby Henon weighing in with their facial expressions immediately.
Go ahead and watch. It’s at the 35-second mark of the video. Wisely, Clarke chose a much less lewd cliché later in his comments when he said, “All of our apples have been pretty much put in that cart.”
Shortly after D.A. Seth Williams announced he was convening a grand jury to investigate last week’s building collapse, City Council President Darrell Clarke said Council will also be looking into the tragedy.
The Committee will be tasked with examining the city’s procedures and regulations pertaining to licenses, permits, construction, demolition, safety and worker certification.
Whatever they find, Council can’t actually compel the city’s L&I department to do anything. Given the frequent animosity between the city’s legislative and executive branches, however, it may end up being the most lacerating of all. This will be the third city-led investigation pertaining to the events of last week. Friday, Mayor Nutter announced that Philadelphia’s Inspector General would be examining the city’s own role in the collapse. [Daily News]
In March, the Inquirer’s data-laden, three-part series on tax delinquency, by Patrick Kerkstra, essentially reaffirmed much of what we learned from Kerkstra’s data-laden Inquirer series on tax delinquency in 2011: Philadelphia has more delinquent parcels for its size than any major city in the country, and subpar collection efforts haven’t helped.
The big reveal on day two of Kerkstra’s second series, though, wasn’t that upwards of 100,000 properties are in arrears on property taxes. It was that 57,500 of those delinquent properties are owned by private developers and property speculators—not low-income owner-occupiers. (Low-income homeowners accounted for only 21 percent of the delinquencies.) As Kerkstra put it, “The findings run counter to the long-standing assumption of many city political leaders that the delinquency rolls are dominated by low-income owner-occupants, a belief that has helped to undermine rigorous enforcement.” Read more »