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 »
A jury determined on Wednesday that Councilman Kenyatta Johnson blocked the sale of two vacant lots in Point Breeze to developer Ori Feibush in an act of political retaliation.
The jury found in favor of Feibush, who filed suit against Johnson in the summer of 2014 in the midst of a campaign to take Johnson’s City Council seat. It awarded Feibush compensatory damages of $34,000. Feibush had sought damages of $275,000.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction. The city-owned properties in question have not been sold.
Jury selection starts this morning in developer Ori Feibush’s federal lawsuit against Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. The case is the second culmination of the years-long drama between the two Point Breeze residents; the first was Johnson’s decisive victory over Feibush in the 2nd District Council race last spring. Can he fight off another Feibush attack? Read more »
Philadelphia may have its first official “Open Streets” event early this fall. Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney, said the city is “planning to do an event in the Sept./Oct. timeframe.”
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson also introduced a resolution on Thursday calling for hearings on Open Streets weekends, which would keep cars off of certain streets at certain times to open them up for pedestrian and bike traffic. The resolution refers to Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia last September, when cars were prohibited on many streets downtown, as “a de facto Open Streets weekend for the residents of Center City.” After that visit, advocates started passing around a petition for more Open Streets events, and eventually a few people made Open Streets PHL an official campaign. Read more »
(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Allan Domb. Domb is a City Councilman as well as a longtime realtor and developer in Philadelphia.)
Earlier this month, a surprisingly critical op-ed was written about my proposal to extend the current property tax abatement from 10 years to 20 years for properties valued at $250,000 and under. The criticism was surprising because it failed to mention how successful the current abatement program has been for Philadelphia’s economy, both from a development and revenue-generating standpoint — for every $1 abated, the city receives $2 from other revenue sources over the life of the abatement.
Perhaps this criticism was so strong because I have not fully explained the proposal, which I intend to do through a variety of outreach efforts. In fact, I have already started doing this by meeting with interested parties to address all concerns. With that said, let me explain it. Read more »
(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)
Many Philadelphians cheered real estate developer Allan Domb’s election to City Council last year. Finally, they said, a real businessman who could bring innovative, market-savvy solutions to our city’s economic problems.
But those lofty hopes fell to earth with a dull thud when Domb introduced his first major piece of legislation: a bill to double the 10-year residential tax abatement to 20 years for houses worth $250,000 or less. It seems great on the surface, but it’s actuality a terrible idea.
Domb claims this expanded tax break on new home construction and major rehabs will encourage developers to build houses in struggling neighborhoods, and lead owners of blighted properties to fix them up.
It’s a laudable goal, one we all should support. But his proposal won’t actually further that goal, and will cost us precious tax dollars to boot. Domb’s plan will fail because it’s based on a misunderstanding about how the abatement works — a misunderstanding that’s shocking given his reputation as a real estate mogul. Read more »
Cherie Ryans sat quietly in the back of City Council chambers this morning, propping up a poster with a black-and-white photo of her son.
Terence Ryans is frozen in time in the picture — 18, skinny, a Bills cap on his head, a hint of a mustache lurking above a faint smile. A smaller image of a Tec-9 semiautomatic hovers above Terence’s photo, along with eight words that cry out in black and red ink: Who Sold This Gun That Killed My Son? Read more »
Philadelphia’s water is safe, city officials said Monday at a Council committee hearing on lead poisoning.
Water Department Commissioner Debra McCarty said that Philadelphia is not experiencing, and will not experience, a water contamination crisis like Flint, Michigan.
“Philadelphia’s drinking water is lead-free, and there are clear differences between Flint and Philadelphia,” McCarty said. She blamed Flint’s catastrophe on the fact that the city changed its water supply, which Philly has not done. Read more »
Mayor Jim Kenney is making his much-anticipated first budget address this morning. You’ve heard about the soda tax proposal, the big plans for parks, pre-K, and police body cams. Citified breaks out 10 things you need to know about Kenney’s budget here. Watch the budget address here, and follow along for commentary and analysis from the Citified team below. Read more »