5 Things to Know about Darrell Clarke’s Massive Jobs Plan

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke. | Copyright of the Philadelphia City Council. Produced and Edited by Michael Falconi

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke. | Copyright of the Philadelphia City Council

On Inauguration Day, City Council President Darrell Clarke announced in a semi-mayoral speech that he would soon unveil an energy savings program that would create more than 10,000 jobs. “Stay tuned for more on that,” he said.

On Monday, with numerous bigwigs flanking him in the Mayor’s Reception Room, Clarke finally revealed the details of the massive, $1 billion, 10-year plan. Well, sort of. Here are five things you need to know about it: 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 »

Darrell Clarke’s Power Is Now Growing Beyond City Limits

sharpiro clarke

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Josh Shapiro and Council President Darrell Clarke | Photos by Bradley C. Bower/AP and via Clarke’s Facebook page

City Council President Darrell Clarke’s growing political muscle is now manifesting itself on a wider stage: state politics. Today, he became one of the first officials to publicly endorse Montco Democrat Josh Shapiro’s run for Pennsylvania attorney general.

The endorsement came in a mid-morning press release in which both Clarke  and Shapiro emphasized a shared commitment to criminal justice reform. “I look forward to working with Attorney General Shapiro to reform Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ensuring that low-level offenders have a chance to turn their lives around and become productive citizens,” Clarke said in the prepared statement. Read more »

Is Jim Kenney Setting a Low Bar for Philly?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

A few hours before a gunman laid an ambush on a 33-year-old policeman late Thursday night, aggressively thrusting Jim Kenney into his first major crisis, I visited the brand-new mayor in his second-floor office in City Hall.

He was leafing through a stack of papers, his legs propped up on a chair and a pair of glasses resting snugly on his nose. “I’m reading about violent school incidents,” he said calmly. “They’re down 6 percent.”

Then he leapt up and energetically showed me the paintings and photographs plastered on his walls, all of which fit him perfectly. There’s a print of Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” He says it makes him think of “prison reentry, of bringing people back to life.” There’s an illustration of Pope Francis, a nod to his Catholic upbringing as well as, it turns out, his tight bond with the city’s LGBT community. “That was a gift from Mark Segal,” he says, referring to the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. There’s a framed stamp in commemoration of Irish immigrants. “It just reminds me of where I came from, which is not here,” he says. “So many people in this country forget that’s the case.”

In that moment, Kenney was all those things that his fans say he is: warm, compassionate, a man who cares deeply about oppressed people. But when he looked around him and took it all in, he seemed ever-so-slightly uncomfortable. “It’s a big room,” he said, “a big room.”  Read more »

Bobby Henon’s Promotion Is a Big Deal

Bobby Henon | Courtesy of City Council's Flickr

Bobby Henon | Courtesy of City Council’s Flickr

City Councilman Bobby Henon got a promotion this week: His Democratic colleagues unanimously elected him to be their new majority leader, a position on the body that is second only to Council President Darrell Clarke. You’re forgiven if you missed that, as it took place amid the happy chaos of Inauguration Day, and seemed dull in comparison to anything and everything that Mayor Jim Kenney was doing.

But it’s a significant development — one that suggests electricians union leader John Dougherty is gaining even more power in Philadelphia and that Clarke’s iron grip over Council might be loosening ever so slightly. Read more »

Darrell Clarke Is Already Upstaging Mayor Kenney

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

In 48 short hours, newly minted Mayor Jim Kenney has already set a tone that could very well define his next four (or, more likely, eight) years in office. So far, his speeches and actions have underlined his commitments to enact a progressive agenda, serve old and new Philadelphians alike, and maintain a solid relationship with other power players in the city. At the same time, Kenney has been somewhat short on ambition, as if he’s afraid of promising too much and not being able to deliver. Here are five takeaways from Kenney’s first couple days in office: Read more »

PHOTOS: Jim Kenney on Philadelphia’s Inauguration Day

Jim Kenney was sworn in as Philadelphia’s new mayor this morning. Holly Otterbein has analysis of Kenney’s first speech as mayor, and Joel Mathis has the full text of the speeches Kenney and Council President Darrell Clarke delivered this morning. Stay tuned to Citified throughout the day for more analysis of the first day of the Kenney administration. 



SEPTA, City Unveil Fancy New Bus Shelter Design

Photo | Sandy Smith

Photo | Sandy Smith

Mayor Michael Nutter, City Council President Darrell Clarke, SEPTA general manager Jeff Knueppel and Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities director Denise Goren all gathered at the northeast corner of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia at 11 a.m. this morning to take the wraps off what may be the most useful and attractive piece of street furniture ever to grace Philadelphia’s streets.

That would be the new bus shelters that Intersection, an “urban experience” firm formed by the merger of urban technology design firm Control Group and the Titan advertising company, will install and maintain at more than 600 bus stops across the city. Read more »

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