Bellevue Bulletin 05/03/2019: Budget Hearings Continue, Record Number of Candidates for City Commissioner
Welcome back to your weekly update from Bellevue!
This week we’re kicking things off with info from the DA’s office. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner joined police commissioner Richard Ross to announce that the city has cleared its backlog of untested sexual assault or “rape kits”. Nearly 4,000 kits have been tested, some which included new evidence. This is a big thing for Philadelphia citizens and for advocates of sexual assault survivors, as untested rape kit backlogs are often to blame for citizens unable to receive justice in sexual assault cases. Progress has been made not only in Philadelphia, but statewide, where PA’s backlog of untested rape kits has reportedly dropped almost 90% in three years, from 3,217 kits in 2016 to 339 kits in 2018.
The city’s hearings for the upcoming budget have still been going strong, and this past week city Police Commissioner Richard Ross testified before Council in defense of a $29.7 million-dollar budget boost. Ross brought with him a few controversial points, including a claim that the police department has no plans to cease the stop-and-frisk tactic that the city has a bit of a checkered past with. While Ross agreed that unconstitutional and unduly stops are unacceptable, he noted that ceasing to use the tactic would “hamper investigations in a city overrun with guns, where homicides hit a ten-year high last year”, according to WHYY. Despite this, good things came out of the hearing, including information that the Philadelphia Police Department has issued 1,086 body cameras and that another 796 will be issued this year. By 2021, all patrol officers should have the technology, and according to Ross, it has brought down the number of complaints against the police with its implementation. To read the rest of Ross’s testimony, click here.
It seems that everyone is vying for a spot in the city government this upcoming election, including 14 citizens who are looking to be the city’s top elections officials. The largest field in 36 years, the interest in election issues and voter turnout is on the rise. All three of Philadelphia’s city commissioner seats are up for grabs, but incumbent Republican Al Schmidt is running unopposed. One Democratic incumbent is among the 14 running – the second highest number of candidates beneath the 1979 election, which saw 27 candidates. To learn more about the people vying for the seats, check out this article from the Inquirer.
In City Council news, Councilmember Parker kicked off the session with a presentation honoring the members of Delta Sigma Theta’s Philadelphia Alumnae, Quaker City Alumnae, and Valley Forge Alumnae Chapters on the occasion of Delta Youth Day. Councilmember Jones put forth a resolution honoring and recognizing Joanne Dahme for her many years of service as the General Manager of the Public Affairs Division for Philadelphia H2O. Finally, Coucilmember Oh has a resolution recognizing May 2019 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Philadelphia.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more!