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


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 »

Op-Ed: Kenney Broke His Campaign Promises to Minorities and the Poor

L to R: Nelson Diaz and Jim Kenney | Photos by Jeff Fusco

L to R: Nelson Diaz and Jim Kenney | Photos by Jeff Fusco

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Nelson Diaz. Diaz is a former Common Pleas judge and former general counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He ran for mayor in the Democratic primary in 2015.)

Last week, I celebrated the life of the person that brought me from Harlem to Philadelphia: Peter J. Liacouras. Peter, the former president of Temple University and dean of Temple Law School, proved pivotal in my life and I’ve carried his lessons with me. I am out of politics and will never run for anything again, but Peter taught me that you shouldn’t let people lie to you. Confront the lie and let the people know the truth.

Jim Kenney pledged during his campaign to be a new kind of leader who would bridge the racial and ethnic divides in our city and empower low-income and minority communities to succeed and thrive.

Yet the progressive and reformed Jim Kenney on the campaign trail has given way to the old-school politician while in office. (When I ran against him in the mayoral race, I warned that you might be getting the new or the old Kenney.) Mayor Kenney has broken his promise to bring our city together and instead pursued policies that would hurt our poorest communities and further entrench racial and economic inequality. Read more »

After Inviting Reporters to Outdated Jail, Kenney Kicks Them Out

Kenney House of Corrections

Jim Kenney and Brian Abernathy talk to the press outside the House of Correction in Northeast Philadelphia. | Photo by Jared Brey

There must have been a miscommunication, because Mayor Jim Kenney was clearly unhappy to see a small corps of reporters at the House of Correction in Northeast Philly when he arrived for a tour on Monday. So unhappy that he asked us to leave after about 20 minutes, despite the fact that his administration had previously invited the press to join him there.
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Reynolds Brown: My Container Tax Is Less Regressive Than Kenney’s Soda Tax

L: Blondell Reynolds Brown (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council) R: Jim Kenney (Photo by Jeff Fusco)

L: Blondell Reynolds Brown (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council) R: Jim Kenney (Photo by Jeff Fusco)

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill on Thursday that would create a 15-cent tax on beverage containers, as an alternative to Mayor Jim Kenney’s plan to tax soda in order to expand pre-K and fund community schools.

While the administration opposes the measure and still wants the soda tax, some soda tax opponents on Council already seem to be warming to the idea of a container tax.

“I think it’s less regressive in that it doesn’t single out one particular industry,” said Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, one of three members of Council who has announced that they are against the soda tax. Read more »

Councilwoman Wants to Tax Containers Instead of Soda

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

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

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 »

PHOTOS: 2016 IBA Business Leaders Luncheon

Philly AIDS Thrift Board Members with IBA leadership. JPG Photography

Philly AIDS Thrift Board Members with IBA leadership. JPG Photography

The Independence Business Alliance (IBA) held its sixth-annual business luncheon at Sofitel Hotel on May 13th, with remarks from Mayor Jim Kenney and a keynote address by Julie Coker Graham, the recently appointed president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Notable highlights included Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room receiving a $10,000 PNC LGBT Business Award and IBA revealing its brand refresh. Read more »

Philly to Focus Outreach to Homeless on Center City “Hotspots”

Tourists walk past a homeless person during Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia. Photo | Bradley Maule

Tourists walk past a homeless person during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia. | Photo by Bradley Maule

The Kenney administration announced a new strategy to fight panhandling and street homelessness in Philadelphia on Monday, one that will focus existing outreach efforts on Rittenhouse Square, the Convention Center, South Broad Street and Market East.

Those areas were identified as “hotspots” by the Office of Supportive Housing, which administers many of the city’s homelessness programs, with help from the Center City District. The office is hoping that the initiative will help the city gather better data about who is living on the streets while “alleviating the concerns” of tourists and intervening directly with homeless people to get them to take advantage of city services and, eventually, provide them with housing.  Read more »

Jim Kenney Made a Cameo in a High School Musical

Jim Kenney rehearses at St. Joe's Prep. Photo | Jared Brey.

Jim Kenney rehearses with Colin Coder at St. Joe’s Prep. Photo | Jared Brey.

Seated in the dark back row of a theater during the climactic scene of Curtains, a comedy musical murder mystery put on by St. Joe’s Prep, Mayor Jim Kenney leaned forward and rested his chin across his arms on the empty seat in front of him.

It was Saturday afternoon. Kenney had arrived toward the end of the first act. He was scheduled to give the student actors a pep talk during the intermission and make a cameo at the beginning of the second act. With those tasks behind him, he was just enjoying the show.

Curtains is sort of like a lighthearted version of Phantom of the Opera, in that its characters are putting on a stage production while an unknown killer keeps gumming up the works. The play-within-the-play, in this case, is called Robbin’ Hood. Robbin’ Hood — think Oklahoma, but in Kansas — is set in the old-timey Midwest, while Curtains is set in Boston in the late 1950s. Read more »

Kenney Expands City-Funded Travel Ban to Places With Anti-LBGT Legislation

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Last month, Mayor Jim Kenney placed a ban on non-essential city-funded travel to Mississippi and North Carolina, in response to legislation enacted in those states that limit the protections LGBT persons. Late Monday, Kenney announced that the ban will be extended to include Tennessee and the city of Oxford, Alabama.  Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: Jim Kenney Responds to Girl Thrown Out of Harrisburg Prom

Photo | Jim Kenney

Photo | Jeff Fusco

A Harrisburg teen gets kicked out of her prom for wearing a suit, and Jim Kenney supports her on social media.

Last Friday, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg Aniya Wolf was kicked out of her prom for wearing a suit. The Catholic school in Harrisburg informed the teen — who identifies as a lesbian who doesn’t like to dress in girly clothing — of the dress code before the event. But when she decided to show up in a prom suit, they restricted her entrance in and threatened to call the police. “I think my experience shouldn’t be any different than anyone else’s because of something I was born with,” she told a local television station. Wolf added that although she feels accepted by the other students at her school, the administrators make her feel like a “mistake.” Read more »

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