PERSISTENCE AND COALITION BUILDING PAYS OFF: CLARKE REORGANIZATION PLAN DELAYED
As reported here on Jan. 16, CCRA has been working actively with the Crosstown Coalition to slow down Bill 140721 and Resolution 140732, which would place a Charter change on the May ballot to drastically reorganize the agencies and commissions that control land use, economic development, and building safety (including Licenses and Inspections) by, among other things, placing them within a Dept. of Planning and Development, headed by a cabinet-level Director of Planning and Development. We raised concerns about a conflict of interest between L&I safety functions and the economic development focus of the proposed new department. We also pointed out that this legislation was introduced the same day that a cross-disciplinary panel of experts had issued a 100-page report dealing with the Salvation Army building collapse calling for the creation of a Dept. of Buildings charged with public safety in permitting, construction, maintenance, and demolition that would be separate from agencies dealing with licensing/development/planning. Obviously, the legislation could not have considered this detailed report or a subsequent 90-page report prepared by administration employees who deal with building safety issues, titled "2015 Plan for a Safer City," and we proposed the creation of an advisory commission to digest the competing proposals, collect the views of the various stakeholders, and make recommendations as to best practices.
To make a long story short, CCRA and the Crosstown Coalition put together a group that added family members of victims of the Salvation Army building collapse, the Central Delaware Advocacy Group, the Committee of Seventy and, perhaps most notably, The Development Workshop (an advocacy group for real estate developers which often takes positions contrary to those of civic associations), culminating last week in lobbying each of the six Councilpersons sitting on the Committee on Law and Government (to which the legislation had been assigned) and, on Wednesday, a 9:30 press conference at City Hall, followed by live testimony before the Committee. CCRA Pres. Jeff Braff was among the last to speak. His testimony can best be summarized by his repeated question to the Committee: "This is important stuff. What's the rush?!" That question was never answered. However, actions speak loader than words: the Committee voted to amend the legislation by, among other things, removing L&I from the reorganization and pushing the proposed ballot referendum from May to November. We are hopeful that the additional six months will enable an intelligent discussion of these important issues and result in better legislation.
EFFORTS TO OBTAIN UNIVERSAL PRE-K IN PHILA OR POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING
PCCY (Public Citizens For Children and Youth) is trying to generate 10,000 signatures on a petition asking City Council to let the voters decide to move forward to establish universal, high quality Pre-K for all 3- and 4-year olds in Philadelphia. The vote is scheduled for February 26th. The petition asks City Council to pass Bill #150017 (unanimously voted out of Committee on Wed.) which would put on the primary ballot in May "an amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to provide for the creation, appointment, powers and duties of a Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten." This independent Commission will prepare a report on how Philadelphia can accomplish what New York City did last year, giving every child the opportunity to start kindergarten ready to learn.
Many will say that this Bill is a misguided approach, that it already is well-established that universal Pre-K is well worth the cost (benefits include reduced need for special ed. services, reduced grade repetition, better performance, and fewer behavioral problems), and that the Pre-K issue must be addressed at the state level, especially since the Phila. School District cannot even fund its existing programs. This line of thinking would add that creating a Philadelphia bureaucracy on this issue does not merit a Charter change, and it is a waste of both time and money, time and money that would be better spent on other educational issues, or supporting the statewide effort to procure universal Pre-K being led by Pre-K for PA, a coalition whose local prominent members include the Economy League of Greater Phila. and the United Way of Greater Phila.
WANTED: BOARD MEMBER NOMINATIONS
The Center City Residents' Association Nominating Committee is seeking nominations for Board seats which open July 1, 2015. New Board members generally serve a term of 3 years.
The Board is a working Board. We are seeking energetic individuals who have a passion for living in our residential district; are interested in issues of quality of life and community service; and are committed to active participation on the Board, including actively serving on at least one committee (e.g., Membership, Events, Fund Raising, Newsletter, Zoning, Finance, Streets, Historic Preservation, Family/Education). Consistent with the foregoing, all candidates must pledge to devote a minimum of four (4) hours per month on CCRA activities, not including time spent attending, and preparing for, monthly Board meetings.
While CCRA membership is open to any individual, corporation, or organization, CCRA By-Laws require that Board Members reside in the area between JFK Boulevard south to South Street, and Broad Street west to Schuylkill River. Members are encouraged to forward a resume or summary of qualifications before March 6 of possible nominees (which could be yourself), to Committee Chair: Dilek Karabucak c/o Center City Residents' Association, 1600 Market St, Ste 2500, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, with "Board Candidate" in the subject line.
JOHNSON/FEIBUSH DEBATE, THURS., MAR. 5, 7 TO 8:30 PM, GREENFIELD SCHOOL, 22ND & SANSOM ST ENTRANCE
Come hear the Democratic candidates for the Second Councilmanic District, incumbent Kenyatta Johnson and challenger Ori Feibush in what promises to be an enlightening (and probably entertaining) debate that will be moderated by Philadelphia Magazine journalist and WHYY NewsWorks contributor Holly Otterbein. The candidates have been given a Questionnaire and asked to reply by Feb. 26. Their responses will be posted on our website. Click here to view poster.
2015 COMMUNITY GARDEN PLOT LOTTERY
Each year, five garden plots (four 10x10 and one 10x15) in the
Schuylkill River Park Community Garden at 25th and Spruce Streets are awarded to non-members of the Center City Residents' Association (CCRA) for a one-season term. Winners pay a one-time fee of $65 for a 10x10 or $85 for a 10x15 plot.
To enter the lottery, please submit your request by postcard, letter or email to the following address:
Center City Residents' Association 1600 Market Street, suite 2500 Philadelphia, PA 19103
Include your name, residential address, phone number and email address. Requests must reach us by March 2, 2015. The drawing will take place in early March and winners will be contacted by phone or email. One entry per household only.
CCRA MERCHANT MEMBERS DISCOUNT PROGRAM
Support our local merchants and save money too. These local merchants will provide a discount (described here) to any member who shows a current CCRA membership card (Di Bruno Bros. has its own CCRA card) and personal identification.
THE WISTER QUARTET CONCERT AT ACAD OF VOCAL ARTS, MON, 3/9, 7:30PM, 1920 SPRUCE ST
Hear the Wister Quartet with Allen Krantz on guitar. Tickets are $17 per person. For more information, call 215-438-4027 or 215-978-0969
Teen Reading Lounge at the Phila City Institute Library, TUESDAYS BEG. 3/10, 3:30-5:30 PM 1905 Locust St
Attention teens in grades 7-12! Do you like to read and talk about sci-fi and fantasy books? If so, you are invited to participate in a series of interesting discussions, creative activities, and awesome projects through the Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) program this spring. TRL will be held from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday: March 10, 17, 24 and 31, April 14, 21 and 28, and May 12 and 19. To sign up, please stop by the Adult Reference Desk at the libraryor call 215-685-6621 before March 3. For more information, visit PCI's Facebook page.Teen Reading Lounge is a program of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and by federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds administered by the Office of the Commonwealth Libraries.
CRIME REPORT 1/5 - 2/1
Robbery with Gun ♦ 1509 Walnut - UBIQ (1/14-1:18pm) (Shoes/USC) WED Employee states, the offender tried on shoes then produced a Black Handgun and demanded money from the register. The offender fled on foot with shoes & $532 usc. B/M, 5'-6" to 5'-7", Medium build, Blue jeans, Gray puffy coat w dark hood, Blue jeans ♦117 S. 16th - Dunkin Donuts (1/21-5:22pm) ($133usc) WED Employee states, the offender entered the store with a unknown weapon wrapped in a newspaper, he took money and fled the store on foot. B/M, Light skin, Freckles, 5'-9", 210lbs, Tan & White hooded coat, Jeans ♦2121 Market - Trader Joe's (1/10-7:18pm) (Nothing Taken) SAT Employee states, an unknown male produced a note that read, "I have 2 guns, this is a robbery, put the money in a bag". The compl stated okay, the offender then fled the store. B/M, 5'-6", Gray hat, Black coat, Unshaven
Robbery without gun ♦ 1900 Chestnut - Highway (1/12-2:30am) (Strong Arm) MON ARREST Compl W/M 38yrs states, he was looking down at his phone when he was slammed to the ground an unknown male took his phone and ran, witnesses flagged down police who stopped the males after they ran down a dead end street. The phone was recovered. ♦1522 Latimer - Highway (1/13-4:23am) (Strong Arm) TUE ARREST Compl W/F 33yrs states, she was knocked to the ground by a male who took her phone, the offender was stopped at 1300 Walnut St. and identified by the complainant. ♦1601 Walnut - Republic Bank (1/20-6:15pm) (Bomb) TUE Teller states, the offender entered the bank and produced a demand note stating that he had a bomb. He then produced a small silver box with wires sticking out of it, the teller gave him $5,250 in small bills. The offender then fled on foot. B/M, 5'-10" to 6'-01", Medium build, White hooded shirt, Blue jeans, Black boots, Glasses ♦235 S. 15th - Cosi (1/23-11:08am) (Strong Arm) FRI
ARREST Employee states, the offender took $5 after accusing the store of giving the wrong change, the male then became combative after being confronted and attempted to stab the manager with a pen. ♦15xx Locust - Apt Building (1/24-2:40am) (Strong Arm) SAT Compl W/F 20yrs states, her boyfriend was drunk when she went to his apartment building, they got into an argument in the lobby that continued to the apartment. He hit her head against the wall and took her phone. He then pushed her on a bed and chocked her. At some point she was able to get her phone back, the male fled. ♦1500 Spruce - Highway (1/25-1am) (Unknown) SUN Compl W/M 29yrs states, he was out drinking and after being dropped off by a cab he was knocked unconscious. When he woke up in the hospital with a broken orbital bone he was missing his phone, coat and $60usc. Compl thinks he was robbed. ♦1628 Chestnut - Rite Aid (1/29-1:20am) (Key/Sanitizer) THURS ARREST Employee states, he observed the offender attempt to leave with items. When confronted the offender struck him with an elbow, stabbed him with a key and attempted to throw sanitizer in his face.The offender was held until police arrived. ♦1 S. 22nd - Highway (1/4-6am) (Knife) SUN Compl W/M 67yrs states, while walking from the A-plus store back to the Sidney Hillman apartments he was approached by the offenders who produced knifes and took his rent money. H/M, 16yrs, Blue jeans, Black hooded coat B/M, 16yrs, Black jeans, Blue hooded coat ♦2040 Market - Wine & Spirits (1/9-6pm) (Fist) FRI ARREST Employee states, the offender attempted to leave the store without paying for a bottle of whiskey. When confronted the offender punched the employee knocking him to the ground. ♦1500 Market - Highway (1/27-9am) (Strong Arm) TUE Compl B/F 21yrs states, she got into an argument with her boyfriend, he punched her in the face and took her phone & Ipad. He fled on foot through the concourse.
Aggravated Assault without Gun ♦ 2040 Locust - Highway (1/9-11:08am) (Knife) FRI ARREST Compl W/M 45yrs states, while doing work at the location he was confronted by a male with a knife who attempted to stab him, the compl hit him with a shovel and called police. ♦1528 Sansom - Ladder 15 (1/31-11:39pm) (Bottle) SAT ARREST Compl W/M 35yrs states, the offender struck him in the side of the head bottle. ♦1500 Market - Septa Train (1/7-11am) (Mace) WED ARREST Compl B/F 32yrs states, she was maced by the offender during an altercation. Septa police made the
Residential Burglary ♦ 18xx Spruce - House (12/18 & 1/7) (Jewelry) UNK Compl states an unknown person kicked in the front door and removed items from the property. ♦22xx Walnut - Apt (12/24-12:15pm) (Packages) WED Compl states an unknown male pried open the front door to the apartment building then opened several packages that were inside the mail room. The incident was recorded on video. B/M, 50yrs, Black coat, Tan pants, Tan boots ♦1xx S. 21st - Apt (1/5-8am & 5pm) (Attempt) UNK Reported 1/13 Compl states an unknown person attempted to pry open his front door. ♦2xx S. 19th - Apt (1/15-1pm & 3pm) (Watch) THURS Compl states an unknown person entered the apartment in an unknown manner and took a watch. ♦20xx Walnut - Apt (1/23-9am & 12:30pm) (Electronics/Jewelry) FRI Compl states an unknown person entered the apartment in an unknown manner and took items. ♦3xx S. 16th - Apt (1/23-9:30am & 8pm) (Electronics/Jewelry) SAT Compl states an unknown person pried open the front door and removed items from the property. ♦18xx Pine - House/Garage (1/27-5:40pm) (Tools/Suitcase) TUE Compl states he left his garage open, an unknown person entered and removed items from the truck of his car.