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Bellevue Bulletin 03/16/2018

Special Election Results and No Deficits

The results are in for Pennsylvania’s special election! Saccone conceded the 18th district special election to his opponent, Conor Lamb, in a phone call on March 21st. Lamb wrote on Twitter: “Just got off the phone with my opponent, @RickSaccone4PA, who congratulated me & graciously conceded last Tuesday’s election. I congratulate Mr. Saccone for a close, hard-fought race & wish him the best. Ready to be sworn in & get to work for the people of .”

In Harrisburg, a pack of seven different bills all addressing domestic violence are passing through the Senate. To read more about the specific bills being passed, click here.

Good news for Philadelphia school districts: For the first time in years, Superintendent William Hites’ team has proposed a new long-term budget – with no planned deficits. After City Halls proposed cash injection, Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson’s annual lump sum budget presentation projected five consecutive years of positive funds. (WHYY) The district’s new projections do account for Kenney’s proposed tax hike, that would bring in nearly $1 billion for the district over the next five years. If Kenney’s measure gets approved, the Philadelphia school district might be in the clear for the next couple years!

The population in Philadelphia is on the rise for the 11th year straight! According to the Census Bureau’s numbers, released on Thursday, Philadelphia’s total population has risen by 6,000 between 2016 and 2017. But get this – that number comes from an imbalance of birth and death rates, as more people moved out of Philly than moved in last year. Read the full story here.

In City Council, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown lead a fantastic presentation honoring and recognizing the career of Monica Malpass, on the occasion of her 30-year anniversary as a journalist for 6ABC. Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced a resolution honoring and recognizing the life and work of Rio de Janiero City Councillor, Marielle Franco, who was tragically assassinated along with her driver last week. On a lighter note, Councilwoman Gym also presented a resolution declaring March 31st, 2018 as Transgender Day of Visibility in the city of Philadelphia.

That’s all for news this week, folks. Be sure to check back regularly for more news and to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/16/2018

School Safety, the Prison Population, and a PFA

Amid a special election, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are rumbling with all kinds of news. Here’s your update:

Conflict is unfolding in the House of Representatives, after Republican representative Tarah Toohil filed for a temporary restraining order against fellow lawmaker Nick Maccarelli, claiming that he threatened to kill her, and suffered through a cycle of abuse during and after their relationship in 2012. The temporary restraining order has been lengthened to a protection from abuse order, effectively a restraining order, for three years – barring Miccarelli from the state Capitol building when Toohil is present. The order also required Miccarelli to give up his guns and will be unable to reobtain them while the order stands. Miccarelli, who is newly married, called Toohil’s claims against him “completely false and…solely the vengeful words of a former lover with an agenda.” Sounds like a perfect example of why workplace romance is a no-go.

Statewide, Governor Wolf has taken steps to implement a task force to seek a way to improve school safety. Wolf’s administration will hold six meetings over the course of the next year to gather public input from parents, teachers, nurses, and students. In the wake of the Parkland School tragedy, lawmakers like Wolf are racing to find solutions to not only gun control, but safety issues that plague our schools. Wolf said that the meetings will seek answers to addressing students healthcare needs, safety, and staff and teachers’ responses to incidents. Perhaps this is a first step in improving Pennsylvania’s school safety issues.

In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner has announced new policies regarding mass incarceration. His new policies are aimed at reducing the severity and length of sentencing in Philadelphia, to ultimately drive down the city’s prison population. The new policy will require prosecutors in Krasner’s office to state on the record the costs and benefits of the sentences being recommended, to ensure that every dollar being spent on an individuals incarceration is worth it – and won’t be better spent going elsewhere. Could this be a step in helping the prison pipeline that plagues the city? Read more here.

Philadelphia’s City Council held an exciting stated meeting this Thursday: Councilman Derek Green lead a presentation honoring and recognizing the historic Montier Family of Philadelphia, recognizing their historic significance and their contributions to the Philadelphia region as a whole. Councilman Bobby Henon lead a resolution honoring Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M. as the Grand Marshall of the 248th Annual Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Sister Mary Scullion is the child of Irish immigrants and a devout Roman Catholic sister and activist. In 2009, she was named as one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”. The resolution was followed by a beautiful performance from two Irish step dancers from a local school.

That’s the latest and greatest here in Philadelphia. Follow us on Twitter at @PhillyAdvocates for more updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/09/2018

Primaries and Pipelines

In the wake of a huge winter storm that had everyone hunkering down for more school cancellations, here’s the news in Pennsylvania:

As far as the primary’s go, three Republicans filed this past week to challenge Governor Wolf, incidentally the only Democrat to file. Laura Ellsworth, Paul Mango, and Scott Wagner are all up to take their chances against Wolf with overwhelming support on Wagner and Ellsworth’s parts. Wagner currently holds the State Republican Party’s backing with 17,618 signatures from 63 counties on his file, including 42 counties with over 100 signatures. Ellsworth filed with 4,500 signatures, including over 17 counties with over 100 signatures. Mango filed with 27 counties having over 100 signatures, and Governor Wolf filed 40,000 signatures from all 67 counties, including 40 more with over 100 signatures. Candidates are required to file with 10 counties with over 100 signatures, and their deadline to file is March 13th.

For the Senate primary, Republicans Lou Barletta, Jim Christiana, and Joe Vodvarka have all filed for nomination for the U.S. Senate primary, while Democratic Senator Bob Casey filed for his third term in the Senate. Here are the numbers: Barletta filed over 15,500 signatures and is endorsed by the state GOP, with over 100 signatures across 38 counties. Jim Christiana filed 3,100 signatures from 28 counties, and Casey’s campaign claims to have filed over 21,000 signatures from 67 counties and 43 counties with over 100 signatures. Vodvarka’s campaign has yet to release any data.

In Harrisburg, lawmakers are racing to find a better solution to how the state pays its’ police officers. Most of the funding as of right now comes from the commonwealth’s Motor License Fund, which is used to pay for roads and bridges – and state police. Motor License money is allowed to be routed to the state police since it falls under the logic that its constitutional purpose is the safety of public roads and bridges. State police spend roughly $600 million dollars on municipal law enforcement per year – which is around half of their entire budget. So, what could be the solution? Read more here.

After President Trump’s announcement in January that the administration would allow states to impose Medicaid work requirements, three states have already had measures approved. Pennsylvania is not currently one of the eight states looking to impose requirements, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lawmakers pressuring each other into attempting it. Both GOP-controlled chambers in PA passed a bill last year to require able-bodied recipients of Medicaid to prove that they’re looking for work – but that’s as far as they’ve gotten. Could PA be the next state to impose work requirements? Read more about it here.

Statewide: Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission ordered a temporary shutdown of the Mariner East Pipeline I on Wednesday – not to be confused with its’ sister pipeline, Mariner East II. The panel argued in a petition that the pipeline was being exposed by the appearance of sinkholes near the construction of Mariner East II, thus compromising the safety of the public. Sunoco is currently running an inspection tool in the pipeline, but we’ll have to wait 10-14 days for the team to submit their findings on the geological conditions of the Pipeline and the land surrounding it.

On Monday, Senators Pat Toomey and Chris Coons said that they would introduce a bill that requires federal authorities to notify states when a felon or a fugitive attempts to buy a firearm but fails the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Toomey and Coons claim that this legislation will be a commonsense way to keep people illegally trying to buy guns on the state law enforcement’s radar, while still being able to ensure citizen’s Second Amendment Rights. Could it work? Read more here.

In Philadelphia City Council, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker introduced and passed a bill mandating all City employees to go through a mandatory sexual harassment course. This is an awesome step by Philly to work at ending sexual harassment in the workplace. Councilman David Oh had a resolution honoring and recognizing Second Street Irish Society for their contributions to the diverse cultural fabric of Philadelphia, and Councilman Curtis Jones presented a resolution honoring and recognizing Jordan Floyd for her role as Principal of AMY Middle School, and for receiving the 2018 Lindback Foundation Distinguished Principal Leadership Award.

That’s the news for today! Follow us @Phillyadvocates on Twitter for more daily updates.

Bellevue Bulletin 03/01/2018

Function, Funds, and Fun

Lawmakers are racking up millions – literally – in charges as the Pennsylvania House and Senate race to find a stalemate on congressional redistricting. Overall, the state branches have reported funneling $3.5 million, the bulk of which was spent redrawing the district map after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. When asked why so many outside lawyers were being brought into the case, a spokesman from the House GOP, Steve Miskin, responded: “You’re dealing with a very specialized area of law, and frankly no one here – in the Capitol complex – has that expertise. And so the Map-A-Palooza continues, and so does the state’s spending. Read more here. 

In Philadelphia, Farah Jiminez resigned her seat on the School Reform Commission board, to spend more time on her day-job – CEO of the education nonprofit, Philadelphia Education Fund. Governor Wolf said that he would allow Jiminez’s seat to remain vacant, given that the SRC will be disbanding for good in a matter of months. More regarding Philadelphia’s school district: In his announcement proclaiming to take back local control of schools, Mayor Kenney also promised to cover the school district’s nearly $1 billion deficit. On Thursday during his annual budget address, Kenney asked that lawmakers raise property taxes and increase real estate transfer tax, with the hope these will function as a tool to raise that $1 billion. For more information on the annual budget, look here. 

Following the devastating Parkland school shooting, Cherry Hill Township officials stated that armed police officers will be posted full-time outside district schools for the time being. Visitors will also need to make appointments and bring photo identification with them before entering any school building. Mayor Chuck Cahn of Cherry Hill stated that there would be seven to ten armed officers would be deployed to the district’s schools, and would remain until the end of the school year in June. The question is: will other schools follow suit?

In City Council this week, Councilmember Curtis Jones proposed a resolution calling on the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to revise their rules on religious head coverings for student-athletes, as well as a resolution calling for Council to examine the development of an extreme risk protection order program regarding the removal of firearms. Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown offered up a resolution recognizing and honoring the 2018 Small Business Week Celebration in Philadelphia.

The winter storm stopped Septa in its tracks this Friday, reducing regional rail lines and bus routes to little to no service, due to fallen trees – but that doesn’t mean we’re not ready to march into March! In honor of International Women’s Month, check out these places to go in Philadelphia to support and celebrate your local strong women!

That’s all for news today, folks. Follow us on Twitter @phillyadvocates for even more updates on what goes on here in Pennsylvania.


Bellevue Bulletin 02/23/2018

Map It Out

The gun control battle has – literally – appeared at Pat Toomey’s door this week on Tuesday, February 20th. Nearly 100 people gathered outside of the Senator’s office in Old City Philadelphia, chanting and waving signs. State Representative Brian Sims of Philadelphia was a featured speaker during the event, which was held to “ask Toomey to uphold his campaign promises to support and promote common sense gun legislation in the U.S. Senate”. 11 bills have since been introduced by Pennsylvania lawmakers in response to the shooting.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Parking Authority havs proposed adding a 50-cent surcharge on every taxi, Lyft, and Uber ride in the city. PPA claims that two-thirds of the revenue collected from the fee would go to the city’s School District. It’s unclear yet how drivers are going to react to all that. Read more here.

The cartography continues in Harrisburg this week as Republicans threaten to sue to keep the PA Supreme Court’s congressional district map from being implemented. After Governor Tom Wolf and the General Assembly failed to agree on a map prior to the Court’s deadline on Monday, the Court went ahead and released its’ own map. After the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled the previous map unconstitutionally gerrymandered, we hope we won’t be having this problem again anytime soon. Read about how this could affect your district here. And if you’re looking for a little humor (and a picture of the new map), check out these tweets.

In Philadelphia, City Council passed a resolution honoring and recognizing Angelo Cataldi of Sports Radio for his 30th year on the air, introduced by Councilmember Taubenberger. Councilwoman Cindy Bass led a resolution to recognize Philadelphia’s living legends – George Albert Beach, Joey Temple, Rita R. Smith-Wade-El, and Valeria Bullock in honor of Black History Month. Other resolutions included: recognizing February as Career and Technical Education (CTE) month in the city of Philadelphia, and honoring and recognizing the Community College of Philadelphia and its Office of Diversity and Equity for the creation of their Diversity Certificate Program.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @phillyadvocates for even more updates on what passes for news here in Pennsylvania.

Bellevue Bulletin 02/12/2018

Rising Up

After a week wrought with tragedy, tensions in the country rise as politicians and citizens alike debate a potential solution to instances like the one we saw at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The loudest voices in the effort for gun control, however, are coming not from the legislators, but the brave students who survived the attack. These students are calling for action, hoping that the country’s legislators are listening.

The week’s news in Pennsylvania includes a lot of cartography: Ahead of the Supreme Court’s deadline, Governor Tom Wolf must approve a new redistricting map. Legislators from both parties have already eagerly submitted their mock-ups, which splits counties and towns to their preference. Now Pennsylvania will have to wait and see what the Supreme Court and Governor Wolf will decide. Read more here.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies in Philadelphia are battling lawsuits from city officials, and they’re about to have another big name on their case: District Attorney Larry Krasner has filed his own lawsuit to combat the scourge of opioids plaguing the city. Officials are working to tame – and prevent – the beast that is the opioid crisis sweeping the city. Krasner and the rest of the city are in talks about creating “safe injection sites”, which will serve as supervised rehab facilities. Councilwoman Cindy Bass put in her two-cents with a five-point plan that you can read here.

Black History Month is in full swing and students around the city are responding to it with art and lots of excitement. A few rec center in West Philly hosted a series of workshops followed by a special screening of Black Panther, where the children will wear the costumes they created. See the photos here.


This week in Philadelphia City Council, Councilman Taubenberger lead a resolution honoring and recognizing the Boy Scouts on their 108th anniversary, and Councilwoman Gym headed a presentation honoring the efforts of professional caregivers and first responders, declaring February 15th, 2018 as Caregivers and First Responders’ Day in Philadelphia. Other resolutions passed included one from our Councilman Kenyatta Johnson to honor our Eagles in their victory, honoring Philadelphia’s law enforcement for their work during the victory parade, and a resolution from Councilwoman Gym has a resolution declaring 2/19/2018, as Day of Remembrance in honor of the 120,000 Japanese Americans interned during World War II, as a result of Executive Order 9066.

The #FreeMeekMill has reached Pyeong Chang, where a Slovenian snowboarder showed his support by flashing the back of his board to the camera, where #FreeMeekMill was written. At the Eagle’s victory parade, many showed their support with chants and signs that we handed out.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @phillyadvocates for even more updates on the news here in Philadelphia and the rest of PA.