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Philadelphia Business Journal Recognizes Mustafa Rashed With 2019 Minority Business Leader Award

Philadelphia Business Journal Recognizes Mustafa Rashed With 2019 Minority Business Leader Award

1B005CFB-AE0E-433D-9225-40A2A057F591Bellevue Strategies CEO to receive award recognizing efforts in minority business leadership

Bellevue Strategies announced today that its CEO, Mustafa Rashed is scheduled to receive a 2019 Minority Business Leadership award from the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The PBJ Minority Business Leadership Award, now in its 11th year, recognizes the Philadelphia Region’s top minority business leaders based on demonstrated business success over the past 12 to 18 months. Nominees are judged based on professional accomplishments, community leadership, philanthropy, as well as awards and milestones.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Philadelphia Business Community,” said Mustafa Rashed. He further added “This award is only possible because of the support of our great team at Bellevue and my family who keeps me encouraged and inspired.”

“Congratulations to Mr. Rashed on this important recognition,” said Harold T. Epps, Commerce Director for the City of Philadelphia. “One of Philadelphia's greatest assets is our diversity, and this award celebrates the critical contributions that minority-owned businesses make in helping Philadelphia's economy thrive."

The 2019 award ceremony will be held on Thursday August 15th at the Ballroom at the Ben at 6pm. The evening will kick off with networking, cocktails, and food stations, followed by the awards presentation.

Bellevue Bulletin 08/02/2019

Council President Clarke's plans, Department of Transportation, and Lead Levels

Happy Friday (and Happy August) and welcome back to your weekly update from Bellevue!

First, we'd like to congratulate out Founder and CEO, Mustafa Rashed, on recieing the 2019 Minority Business Leader Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal! We're honored to be part of your team!

In Philadelphia, Council President Darrell Clarke has penned an op-ed for the Inquirer, focused on his plan for decreasing gun violence in Philadelphia and keeping the city's children safe. The office's plan is, as Council President Clarke wrote, "a prohibition on firearms and deadly weapons at city recreation centers and playgrounds". The Safe Havens legislation, that is slated to be introduced upon Council's return in the fall, aims to prohibit the possession of firearms and other deadly weapons at city-owned recreation facilities. Clarke and the rest of City Council are working closely with Harrisburg legislators on the issue, both Democratic and Republican. Philadlephia recently joined Attorney General Josh Shapiro in support of a grant he made to a grass-roots program, aimed at educating women of the issues they face if they purchase a gun for any individual prohibited from owning a firearm. Council also introduced a series of bills in Council to promote safer interactions between law-abiding gun owners and police, and to provide citizens with a reasonablestep to seek removal of firearms from persons "identified as a threat to themselves or others". To read the full Op-ed by Council President Clarke, click here. 

In Harrisburg, a new Department of Transportation procedure will let motorists identify with neither male nor female, instead offering the gender-neutral option of "X" on their state issues drivers licenses. More than ten other states have rolled a similar plan out, with success. The Department of Transportation made the final decision, and spokesperson Erin Waters-Trasatt said that the state's vehicle code provids the authority for the department to make the change, and doesn't require approval from the federal legislature. Officials, said Trasatt, don't believe that the new plan will present any problems in terms of compliance with federal REAL ID regulations.

A well-known and dangerous issue in the Philadelphia School System is looking to be taken care of by Governor Wolf and Harrisburg legislators: lead paint. Gov. Wolf announced Wednesday that the state is kicking in extra money to help Philadelphia schools continue to remove lead paint from their buildings. After reports of dangerous lead levels in Philly classrooms, the state last year allocated an extra $8 million for lead paint stabilization. The district contributed another $8 million. On Wednesday, Governor Wolf stopped by to let everyone know that Harrisburg is giving more "I'm proud to announce another $4.3 million in state funds for lead paint stabilization that will make classrooms and hallways of Philadelphia schools safer," Wolf said. But it's not enough, he added, and reminded listeners of his Restore PA proposal, that would include $4.5 billion for state infrastructure improvements funded with an extraction tax on Marcellus Shale gas.

And that's all for this week! Follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more.

 

Bellevue Bulletin 07/26/2019

Opioid-related death tolls rise; Hahnemann Hospital; and La Colombe's community service

Happy Friday and welcome back to your weekly update by Bellevue!

In Philadelphia, good news comes as we learn that opioid related deaths in the neighborhoods of Kensington, Harrowgate, and Port Richmond have seen a 23% drop in deaths over the past year - and overdoses across the state of Pennsylvania have dropped, too. But, at the current rate, Pennsylvania is still losing 12 people a day opioid-related deaths. But, even as some communities are seeing a decline in instances, others are seeing a rise. Overdoses in the 19148 zip code in South Philadelphia increased by 20%, from 44 to 53 deaths between 2017 and 2018. Many neighborhoods in Philly, including South Philadelphia, are struggling with adequate access to harm reduction services. Joseph Benitez, executive director of Prevention Point, a public health organization for people in addiction based in Kensington, has said that stigma still keeps many from seeking treatment and harm reduction services. “We have to start talking about this out loud, and tackling the stigma that surrounds this disease — so people feel safe to come in and ask for help,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

If you’ve been following PA school district news, you might have heard about the Wyoming Valley West school district that send out a letter warning parents behind on lunch bills that they would be subject to Dependency Court - and their children sent to foster care. The school has since apologized in a  post on the district's website, after the Superintendent of Wyoming Valley West claimed that the letter never went through to the school board before being sent. Shorty after, Todd Carmichael, chief executive of the Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, offered to pay off the $22,000 in overdue lunch bills to the district, and the board has accepted the donation. They plan to funnel it through the district’s nonprofit foundation. Carmichael plans to have all parents that received the school district’s initial letter contacted and told that their debt has been paid off.

In the wake of the announcement of the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital, the organizations more than 2,500 employees have been scrambling in search of new jobs as the hospital shuts its doors. While organizations are always in search of nurses, support staffers in housekeeping or dietary services are disgruntled at the lack of employers that were present at the Hire Hahnemann fair at the Convention Center this past week. Some staffers who have been employed at Hahnemann for over a decade have salaries close to $20-$30 an hour - and many other employers cant’t offer to go near that rate. According to WHYY Chris Woods, executive vice president of the union that serves Hahnemann, is holding onto hope that Hahnemann will keep its doors open. Until then, he’s “bargaining to get as many benefits as possible for his members”. He told WHYY that, “When you’re talking about an employer who’s filing for bankruptcy, I don’t know how successful we will be in being able to get those folks to pay some severance, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try.”

City Council is still out for the summer, so that's all for this week! Be sure to follow us on twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more.

Bellevue Bulletin 07/18/2019

Heat Waves, Eagles, and Rebuild

Happy Friday and welcome back to your weekly update by Bellevue!

It’s been a rainy summer, and now it’s getting even hotter. Philadelphia has declared a heat emergency that began on Wednesday, and will go through the rest of the week. The National Weather Service has predicted a heat index value as high as 110 degrees. According to WHYY, between the years 1971 and 2000, Philly has only had, on average, 4 days of a heat index over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The Union of Concerned Scientists have published a report about the rising high temperatures in the United States, predicting that Philadelphia will experience an average of 29 days with a heat index over 100 degrees between 2036 and 2065. Get those air conditioners cranking! If you’d like to the full report from the Union, click here.

First up on the docket for Philadelphia news involves a few of our favorite Super Bowl Champs - Malcolm Jenkins and former teammates Chris Long and Torrey Smith sat down in front of lawmakers on PA’s Capitol Hill for a cause that’s important to them: The Clean Slate Act. Putting public pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill in the House ultimately succeeded, and a year and a half later the bill was passed. In June of 2019, the bill went into full effect. The Clean Slate Act makes citizens with nonviolent misdemeanors and simple assault convictions eligible for an expunged record. Another win for the Birds!

Next up for Philadelphia is Mayor Kenney’s city park renovation project, which is finally falling into place this week as the city is set to unveil apprenticeship programs aimed at providing union jobs. This is a key piece of Kenney’s Rebuild project, and will hopefully benefit the communities where the work is being done. 21 unions and City Council have signed a memorandum of understanding, stating that unions will be “required to provide opportunities on Rebuild Projects to participants and graduates of pre-apprenticeship programs”. Women, minorities, and graduates of pre-existing programs are to be given preference. Work has begun at 36 of the 64 sights slated for the project.

Council is out of session for the summer!

That’s all for this week. Be sure to follow us @PhillyAdvocates for more.

Bellevue Bulletin 07/05/2019

Cyber Snow Days, Hahnemann Hospital updates, and Healthcare

Happy Frida, July 5th, and welcome back to your weekly update from Bellevue.

First up on the docket, if you haven’t heard yet, Pennsylvania is planning to shift from healthcare.gov, to a state-based insurance exchange. What does this mean? Governor Wolf’s staff says that if PA switches to its online marketplace, users will save money and there will be improved access to affordable healthcare insurance. The online exchange could reduce premiums for residents by up to 10%. The operation enrollment plan will take effect in January 2021, as the legislation is still pending approval from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. For more information on what the difference is between healthcare.gov and a state-based system, and how it might affect you, click here.

The next big piece of news coming from Harrisburg is a blessing for parents, and a definite curse for kids - Governor Wolf signed a bill on Tuesday that will allow schools to have “flexible instruction days” due to snow or other events. Which means, sorry kids, you’ll have to work from home. But, it will hopefully cut back on snow days that end up taking days away from vacations, holidays, and the end of the year. The state Department of Education has already conducted a pilot program over the past three years with various school districts, and the plan doesn’t require that schools participate. Cyber snow days are on the horizon.

Last month, Hahnemann University Hospital announced that it would close its doors in early September, citing “continuing, unsustainable financial losses”. It was a hard hit for both the 2,500 employees and the rest of the surrounding neighborhood. With the closing looming, the PA Secretary of Health has installed a temporary manager to oversee the process, and ensure that the transition goes smoothly. Among other challenges, Hahnemann’s closure forces nearly 570 residents to find new places to continue their training, causing other health systems in the region to figure out how many residents they can accommodate. Since the stories from Hahnemann are likely to keep coming, we’ll make sure to keep you updated.

There was no stated meeting this week, due to the Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day!

Until next time! Don’t forget to follow us @PhillyAdvocates for more.

Bellevue Bulletin 06/14/2019

Philadelphia's Budget Passes!

Happy Friday and welcome back to your weekly update from Bellevue.

First up this week is City Council’s Fiscal Year 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets has been passed, and includes new investments in job creation, road repaving, education, and violence prevention. Mayor Kenney praised council for “a spending plan that represents the priorities of the residents of Philadelphia”. Additional inclusions in the Five Year plan stated $1.2 billion in general fund contributions to the School District of Philadelphia, $30 million over five year in additional investments to support the “Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities”, the anti-violence initiative released in January, and over $200 million over six years for street resurfacing, to reach the goal of resurfacing and paving 131 miles annually by FY23! The full budget is available here.

A little more on the budget: the city’s Office of Homeless Services is being given an extra $800,000 next fiscal year targeted to help low-income families on the brink of homelessness. Despite being less than 1% of the office’s annual budget, it’s still a considerable bump in funding for prevention efforts in the city. Officials have estimated that the new money could save up to 400 more families from sleeping in homeless shelters, as the previous program helped 1,100 families in the fiscal year 2019. The program provides cash assistance to families facing eviction so that they may stay in their homes and helps participants with security deposits on new places or help covering overdue utility bills. To learn more about the program, click here.

As the environment becomes an increasing concern, the City of Philadelphia has recently agreed to pay $8.4 million toward the federal government’s cleanup of the Clearview Landfill, a “Superfund” site that contaminated parts of the Eastwick section of Southwest Philly. The landfill has been an unlicensed dumping site since the early 1950s, attracting commercial, industrial, institutional, and municipal waste. Needless to say, the years of dumping have left behind a dangerous mix of heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, and other compounds that are threatening to humans and the environment alike. Residents of Southwest Philly, rejoice! For more about the Clearview Landfill, (which is no longer a threat to public health, by the way!) click here.

Highlights in Council this week included: Councilmember David Oh put forth a resolution urging Philly Votes to maximize language access services available through the City’s new voting machines. Councilmember Oh also had resolutions honoring June 14, 2019 as Flag Day in Philadelphia, and recognizing August 1-7 as World Breastfeeding Week and the month of August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the City of Philadelphia. Councilmember Sanchez had a resolution urging Governor Tom Wolf and the PA Legislative body to protect and expand the General Assistance Program to provide a lifeline for people with disabilities throughout the City of Philadelphia. Finally, at the request of Councilmember Derek Green, City Council and its attendees held a standing moment of silence to honor the memory of Philadelphia Sheriff Deputy and LGBTQIA Advocate Dante Austin, who passed away last week.

That’s all for this week! Remember to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more!

Bellevue Bulletin 06/7/2019

Budget #4, Drexel Study, and Waste Management

Welcome back to your weekly update with Bellevue!

First up in state news, Pennsylvania is finally making moves to ban plastic bags. Every year, over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps are used in the United States, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to make, but on 5% of these plastics are recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Recently, Cincinnati-based grocery chain, Kroger, vowed to ban all plastic bag use by 2025, and now other regional chains are stepping up the plate. Over the next few weeks and months, officials at Giant Eagle and Shop ’n Save are expected to take positive stances on ridding the use of plastic bags.

In Philadelphia, the local Area School District is shaping up to launch a four-year thorough examination of its current school programs and buildings to look at demographic trends with the intention of planning for the future of the system. According to Philly.com, this is the first such process that the district has undertaken, and it’s expected to result in vast changes - including new schools, replacement buildings, and boundary and grade configuration changes. It could also lead to more school closings. In parts of Center City, South Philly, and Northeast Philly, schools are overcrowding, and in other places, fewer families have chosen public schools and enrollment is at a fraction of school capacity, contributing to wide inconsistencies in academic programs and grade configurations. The District plans to study schools in waves, and each cycle will take a year - the first changes are expected to come about in the fall of 2020.

Jessica Hilburn-Holmes, the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, has a new plan for bringing legal services to Philadelphia’s low-income residents. The Equal Justice Center, which will be located at 8th and Race Street in Chinatown, will put more than a dozen of the city’s civil legal aid groups under one roof. The hope it that in creating a one-stop-shop type of building, it will be easier for people to access the pro-bono help that Philadelphia’s civil legal groups provide, and reduce the number of low-income residents that are forced to represent themselves in court. The $65 million project will take the nine-story building and house more than 300 employees from organizations like Community Legal Services, the Public Interest Law Center, and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, among others.

There was no stated meeting for Council this week.

Be sure to follow us @PhillyAdvocates for more updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 05/31/2019

Plastic Bags, School Districts, and a new law center

Happy Friday and welcome back to your weekly update by Bellevue!

First up on the docket - Mayor Kenney delivered his fourth annual budget address on Thursday, and along with it, Philadelphia is teed up to break $5 billion for the first time in its long history. City Council’s operating budget totaled up to $5,025,266,000 with no property tax increase for the time being. This new plan adds over $30 million to Mayor Kenney’s initial proposed budget, and includes more funding for the school district. The legislation was coupled with a bill to increase tax breaks to some homeowners, and another to decrease the city’s Wage and Net Profits Taxes. City Council has until the end of this month to approve the legislation.

Drexel University recently hosted a survey in the Kensington area neighborhood asking residents and business owners for their opinions on supervised-injection sites - and this time around, there was more support within the neighborhood than citywide surveys had relayed. The researchers from Drexel surveyed 360 residents, permanent and otherwise; a quarter of respondents, they said, were living on the street. Nearly 90% of people surveyed told researchers they supported the idea of opening a supervised-injection site. 63% of the 79 business owners supported the idea as well. Drexel believes that it was important to get the neighborhood of Kensington’s input, as it has been hit the hardest by overdoses and opioid-related homelessness. To learn more about supervised-injection sites, click here.

Philadelphia, along with many other cities across the U.S., has been in a bind since China stopped taking most recycling. And it’s taken a while to work out a contract - Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams and City Council gave approval for the Streets Department to begin signing new contracts for recycling and waste disposal. But, it would mean committing to a five-year contract at $92 a ton, and disposing it at the Covanta incinerator in Chester. While Covanta does provide energy from the incineration, many still argue that waste incineration is a bad step for the environment. The solution to this, according to Cindy Bass, is reducing our overall city waste. Read more here.

In Council, Councilmember Curtis Jones kicked off the stated meeting by leading a presentation recognizing the Philadelphia Muslim Community and acknowledging May 5, 2019 through June 4, 2019 as the holy month of Ramadan. He went on to present a resolution celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Father’s Day Rally Committee and their initiatives that have positively impacted the quality of life of African American communities and men of color in the City of Philadelphia. Councilmember Derek Green put forth a resolution recognizing June 10-15, 2019 as Disability Pride Week in the City of Philadelphia.

That’s all for this week! Follow us @PhillyAdvocates for more.

Bellevue Bulletin 05/23/2019

Election Recap, PA Finances, and Philly's Safe Streets Project

Welcome back to your weekly update with Bellevue!

The Philadelphia Primary Election just passed, and we’ve got a breakdown on what happened right here. Here are a couple of things we know:

  • With the vast majority of votes counted, turnout on Tuesday surpassed the 2017 primary and general elections, as well as the 2018 primary election.
  • Two millennial challengers have joined three incumbents in taking the top five spots in the crowded City Council At-Large race. Isaiah Thomas, 34, and Kathy Gilmore Richardson, 35, join incumbent Helen Gym, Allan Domb, and Derek Green in the top five.
  • Incumbent City Commissioner Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir get a victory, but with it comes a loss for advocates for hand-marked paper ballots. Both winners, and incumbent Republican Al Schmidt, endorse new touch--screen voting machines.
  • Philadelphia voters approved four proposed charter amendments on the ballot on Tuesday, including the creation of a new class of law officer dedicated to traffic enforcement; the use of gender-neutral language for City Council and its members; making permanent the Office of Immigrant Affairs; and urging legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.
  • According to Philly.Com, the primary concerns that voters found were influencing their choices were: soda tax, safe injection sites, and urban planning.

In other news unrelated to the primary election, speed cameras have been approved for Philadelphia’s Roosevelt Boulevard, one of the deadliest stretches of thruway in the city, accounting for nearly 8% of all crashes. Last year alone, 21 people died on a mile and a half stretch of the road. The cameras are expected to be up and running by the end of the year, and will incite tiered fines with the smallest being $100 for traveling 11 mph to 20 mph over the speed limit (which is 45 mph on most of the Boulevard). Going 31 mph or more over the speed limit would result in a $150 ticket. Read more about the city’s new technology advancements here!

Budget season in Pennsylvania is in full swing, and PA’s fiscal watchdog is reporting a “healthy revenue projection for the next fiscal year”, according to the Penn Capital Star. The Independent Fiscal Office, a nonpartisan agency that prepares revenue projections and analyzes economic trends for lawmakers, predicts that Pennsylvania’s general fund revenues will grow at a rate of almost 3 percent in the 2019-20 fiscal year, to a total of $35.8 billion. Wolf’s proposed budget comes with a price tag of $34.1 billion. There are a few significant points to know about PA’s fiscal situation, including a stagnant wage tax, a potentially volatile labor market, and a large internet sales tax. Want to know more? Click here.

Philadelphia City Council was a flurry of activity this Thursday after the election. Councilman tomb kicked off the day with a presentation recognizing the DEA Philadelphia’s 360 Strategy, a three-pronged approach to combating heroin/opioid use through Law Enforcement, Diversion, and Community Outreach. Councilman Curtis Jones and Councilman Johnson lead a presentation on behalf of Council President Clarke honoring the 138th Convention of the United Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the Free Masonry, Prince Hall Affiliation. Most notably, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell put forth a resolution honoring Bishop Mary Floyd Palmer on her appointment as the first female President of the Philadelphia Council of Clergy.

That’s all for this week folks! Check in next week for more news, and in the meantime, follow us @PhillyAdvocates on Twitter for updates.

Bellevue Bulletin 05/17/2019

Soda Tax, Development Codes, and Philly's Upcoming Election

Welcome back to your weekly update with Bellevue! Here’s everything that happened this past week:

Back in 2016, Philadelphia Mayor Kenney passed the controversial Soda Tax - and it’s cut down on soda consumption across the city. Christina Roberto, a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist who works as a researcher and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, led a recently released study that says sales of sweetened beverages in Philly have dropped by 38% in the year after the tax was put into effect. The Mayor’s office has projected that the tax will have brought in more than $194 million by June 30th, the close of the current fiscal year. All the money made from soda tax revenue will go back to expanded pre-K programs and the Rebuild initiative.

There are only six days until the local election, where voters will have to choose between 28 different names on the Democratic ballot for City Council. The Council at-large race is one of the biggest in recent history, and all three incumbents and two challengers have employed the help of TV spots in preparation for the election. People have been debating as to whether or not TV ads actually have any effectiveness, as people begin to cut their cable and turn to Facebook and streaming services. But, Philly.com says, in lower-turnout elections like the upcoming one, voters tend to be older - and still have cable. It remains to be seen!

In City Council, Council President Darrell Clarke is taking a stab at redoing the code that governs construction and development in the city, citing that he believes gentrification is accelerating. In the legislation that will be introduced to Council on Thursday, Clarke calls for a new Council-led commission to review and revise the city’s code, which had its last rework in 2012. President Clarke’s new Zoning Code Review Commission would be comprised of councilmembers and others appointed by his office, with the intention of holding public hearings on the state of the code and submitting a report with recommendations for change.

In Council this week, Councilman Oh introduced a number of resolutions including: recognizing the US Army for providing for the safety and security of the nation since its creation in Philadelphia, 244 years ago; a resolution welcoming the LRRP/Rangers of I Company 75th Rangers to Philadelphia for their National Convention; and a resolution calling for Council to hold hearings regarding accountability for the state of road surfaces in Philadelphia. Councilmember Curtis Jones put forth a resolution recognizing the Philadelphia Muslim Community and acknowledging May 5th, 2019 through June 4th, 2019 as the holy month of Ramadan. Finally, Councilmember Henon put forth a resolution recognizing May 20th to May 26th, 2019 as National Emergency Medical Services Week in the City of Philadelphia, and honoring Philadelphia’s Paramedic of the year, Christian Apelt.

Bellevue Bulletin 05/07/2019

Mayor Kenney's "Growing with Equity: Philadelphia's Vision for Inclusive Growth"

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney recently unveiled his new plan for economic growth in Philadelphia, emphasizing the need for all-inclusive growth for all of Philadelphia’s residents. We’re here to break down the plan for you:

The Agenda: “Growing with Equity” is Kenney’s plan that ensures Philadelphia attracts employers that are as diverse as the residents of its city. During this new trend of population growth and job creation, Kenney wants to further the momentum to reach every citizen, in every part of the city, to ensure that those still that are still struggling despite the city’s growth, are getting the help they need to reenter into the economy.

The Goals: The “Growing with Equity” plan focuses on three major points as a strategy for advancing growth: jobs, talent, and neighborhoods. There are several strategies aligned with each other the three goals, but we’ll give you the most notable ones.

Goal I: “Grow the economy to create family-sustaining jobs for all Philadelphians”

Subbullets to this point include things like establishing a Business Acceleration Team, eliminating Business Income and Receipts Tax filing for small businesses, and generally expanding entrepreneurial efforts that support people of color, women, and immigrants.

Goal II: “Prepare Philadelphians for jobs that pay family-sustaining wages”

A modern problem that requires modern solutions, Philadelphia’s plan for investing in it’s citizens in this way is an emphasis on quality Pre-K and K-12 systems, growing industry partnerships and apprenticeships, encouraging career skills training, and increasing labor force participation and economic mobility.

Goal III: “Encourage equitable growth in neighborhoods without displacement”

With an emphasis on housing affordability and renter protections, Philadelphia plans to invest in its neighborhoods and create strong development markets, as well as simply and expand homeownership across the city.

The Scale: How will this progress be measured? Philadelphia’s plan for inclusive growth includes a focus on racial equity, and a need to create a just and fair society where all can prosper. The strategies of “Growing with Equity” are aimed first and foremost at reducing disparities for people of color, and to breaking down data to track progress in its reduction.

Six key indicators have been created by the city to monitor the success of its growth efforts, and they span a 10-year long plan to track the economic health of the city, with the hopes that it will grow. The main areas of focus: education, employment, wages, and homeownership.

Philadelphia plans to work on closing the gap between Philly’s median household income and nationwide median household income; continue to close the unemployment gap rate between Black, Hispanic, and Asian residents and the city’s White residents, and with that, close the gap in median income respectively, as well as the educational attainment gap. Philadelphia’s most ambitious goal, it to decrease the number of people living in poverty by 100,000.

The team responsible for tracking feedback will be lead by Mayor Kenney’s Office, with representation from: the Department of Commerce, Planning and Development, Managing Director’s Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, Office of the Director of Finance, and any others as they’re needed.

The Support: While “Growing with Equity” is a Philadelphia based program, Mayor Kenney took the opportunity to call on leadership at all levels, both political state, local, and federal, and a network of business, community agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofits, to make “Growing with Equity” a true group effort.

The full language for Mayor Kenney’s plan “Growing with Equity: Philadelphia’s Vision for Inclusive Growth” is available online at phila.gov/inclusive-growth. Thanks for sticking around to hear from us!

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!

Bellevue Bulletin 04/26/2019

New Philly Stats and DA Krasner’s Budget

Welcome back to your weekly update from Bellevue!

First up, the Center City District released its annual State of the City report: a conglomeration of stays about where our city stands. In 2017, labor stats told us that there were 10,700 jobs created with in the year - in 2018, there were nearly 15,400 jobs. That’s economic good news, if you ask us. But - 25% of Philadelphia still remains in poverty. To read the full report or just get the fast facts, click here. 

In the same vein, the Department of Labor and Industry released a report last week that the commonwealth of Pennsylvania has seen the unemployment rate decrease one-tenth of a percent this year, bringing the percentage point down to 3.9% unemployment. A record number! Along with that, the Department of Labor report read that a total of 4,000 jobs have been created across PA since February, totaling an increase of 0.8% the past year!

This past Wednesday in Philadelphia, DA Larry Krasner gave his testimony for the annual budget - an integral part of the annual process. During his speech, he took time to highlight some things that have changed since he took office. A primary part of Krasner’s campaign while running was a pledge to curb mass incarceration, and it seems that he’s making strides to do just that - in 2018, there saw a 46% decrease in the estimated total of years served behind bars than in the first three months of 2014. Overall, Krasner asked Council for $3 million for this upcoming fiscal year, a 7% increase over the funding for this year. See what he’s done and what he plans to do here! 

Highlights from Philadelphia’s City Council this week include Councilmember Oh’s resolution, proclaiming the week of May 3rd, 2019 to May 11, 2019 as the 9th Annual Philly Tech Week, presented by Comcast, to honor the broad and vibrant technological community in Philadelphia. Councilmember Curtis Jones put forth a resolution calling for Council to hold hearings on the feasibility of the City of Philadelphia creating a lease-to-purchase housing program using city owned properties. He also put forth a resolution recognizing the employees of Philadelphia area prisons for the professional contributions and services; and naming the week of May 6, 2019 to May 10, 2019 as Correctional Employee Week.

That’s all for this week! Check back next week for more, or follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates!

Bellevue Bulletin 04/24/2019

A Special Welcome - Jessica Cosmé

A special update is here today: we'd like to extend a warm, excited welcome to our new Senior Associate, Jessica Cosmé.

Cosmé is a communications professional who cut her teeth in politics, working for some of the top Democrats across Pennsylvania, and biggest companies in across the country.

Prior to her position at Bellevue Strategies, Jessica was a Strategic Communications Consultant developing leadership and corporate change communication strategy for national and global businesses.

Jessica has spent over a decade building and managing relationships, forming coalitions, furthering initiatives, and crafting communication strategies for political candidates, elected leaders, issue advocacy groups, and Labor Unions across Pennsylvania. She has served as the National Finance Director for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, advised leaders in the Pennsylvania Legislature and members of Philadelphia's City Council, and served as the Communications Director for PASNAP, one of fastest-growing healthcare sector Labor Unions in Pennsylvania.

Jessica was named as one Politics PA 30 under 30, Billy Penn's Who's Next in Pennsylvania Politics, and has served on the Board of Directors of Emerge Pennsylvania, and Slippery Rock University Council of Trustees.  A Western Pennsylvania native, Jessica attended Slippery Rock University and studied Political Science. She currently lives with her family in the Old City section of Philadelphia.

Welcome, Jessica!

Bellevue Bulletin 04/19/2019

PA Budget Rally and Street Sweeping Hit Philly as Philadelphia Grows

Welcome back to your weekly update! Here’s the news for the week:

On Wednesday, a group of activists rallied in front of the Capitol building in Harrisburg for a $15/hr minimum wage; free and affordable college; increased funding for K-12 public ed, and assuring that PA’s communities of color are counted accurately in the upcoming 2020 Census. The groups represented at Wednesday’s rally were pro-immigrant group CASA, Make the Road PA, as well as ONE PA, among others. The new fiscal budget begins on July 1st, which means that PA Lawmakers have until midnight on June 30th to approve the budget, which may include a $12/hr minimum wage, an effort to work up to the proposed $15/hr. To read more about the budget and the rally on Wednesday, click here. 

A few weeks ago, we told you about Mayor Kenney’s plan to bring mechanical street sweeping to six neighborhoods in Philadelphia - this plan is now fully in the works. The pilot program is part of a $2.3 million annual investment in street cleaning, in an effort to reduce litter and cut down on waste in the city. Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams said this about the pilot program: “Along with mechanical broom cleaning there will be sidewalk removal of litter and debris through backpack blowers and hand brooms. There will also be compactors used to remove illegally dumped materials,” Williams said. “Residents are not mandated to move their vehicles but we strongly encourage it so our broom cleaning can be most impactful removing litter from the curb lines." (Quote courtesy of Philly Voice.) 

For the 12th year in a row, Philadelphia has grown! According to the Census Bureau, Philadelphia has experienced a slight - but steady - incline in residents since the drop-off in the 1970s, when the city lost nearly half a million residents. The city’s peak was 2 million in 1950, and it’s slowly climbing back up towards that number. In 2018, there are approximately 1.5 million people living in Philadelphia! Philly is outpacing its surrounding suburban neighbors in growth - but this doesn’t mean that some people aren’t leaving. Check out this great article by Philly.com to see all the details about growth and decline in Philadelphia.

There was no stated meeting for Philadelphia City Council this week, but check here to see information on the 55 people who are running in the primaries on May 21st! 

Bellevue Bulletin 04/12/2019

Ahead of Primary, Philly Rolls out New IDs

Welcome back to your weekly update with Bellevue! Here’s your news for this week:

All the way down in Washington, the U.S House passed legislation from Representative Mike Doyle that seeks to restore the Obama-era net neutrality laws, in an attempt to keep internet service providers from controlling web traffic. The bill, called the “Save the Internet Act”, was praised widely by other democratic reps who support increased internet access, not less. The bill passed 232-190, and one Republican, Rep Bill Posey, broke with party lines to support the bill. Despite passing in the House, the bill has a long road ahead and many speculate that it will be dead upon arrival, or that President Trump would veto the bill if it were to reach his desk. Still, supporters of the bill hold out hope.

In Philadelphia news, the city has finally begun to roll out its new municipal identification cards! The new shiny piece of plastic, called the PHL City ID card, is an option for residents of Philadelphia who have had trouble obtaining a state-issued ID, for reasons such as citizenship status, poverty, or other circumstance. The cards will be able to be used to sign into school and city buildings; access recreation centers, city programs, and city services; as well as provide ID to law enforcement officials within city limits. Currently, banks within the city have said that they will also accept the cards as a secondary form of ID. The ID also doubles as a Free Library card! Check here for a list of the places offering discounted services and tickets with your card.

We're now six weeks away from the primary election in Philadelphia, and candidates are scrambling for cash before the election begins. Those running for city offices had to file their finance reports on Tuesday and release the records to the public. Mayor Jim Kenney is running with more than 10 times the amount of cash as his challengers, a whopping $655,692 - something that surprised many. Other top earners are the unendorsed democratic opponent Sheriff Jewell Williams, with $36,385; State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams with $49,078 in the bank; and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who has a reported $50,972 in the bank. Click here for more information on who's in the race, including District candidates, and where all the money is!

In Philadelphia City Council this week, Councilmember Gym had a resolution calling for Philadelphia Council to explore the creation of a Philadelphia Schools “community connector” position to further enhance connections between families, caregivers, and school communities. Councilmember Gym also had a resolution calling for Council to hold hearing evaluating the needs and identifying priorities for services to strengthen Philadelphia's schools. Councilmember Sanchez leads a presentation honoring the Kid All PCA for and Philadelphia DHS for their collaborate commitment of victims of child sexual abuse in the city and declared April 2019 to be Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

That's all for this week - be sure to follow us @PhillyAdvocates for anything and everything you need to know!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/28/2019

Philly Budget Hearings and Free College

Happy Friday! Welcome back to your weekly Bellevue Bulletin:

On Sunday, nearly 1,000 Philadelphians gathered at the Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Spring Garden for a “People’s Forum”. The largest City Council candidate event of this election cycle, according to Alliance for a Just Philadelphia and the MLK Dare coalition said. The purpose of the forum was for the citizens to hold Philadelphia’s 19 City Council at-large candidates accountable for how well they have lived up to the progressive policy agenda, named the People’s Platform. The candidates answered policy questions by raising papers that indicated either “Yes” or “No”, and then given one minute to elaborate on their response. People who attended said that they were glad to learn a little bit more about the candidate's policies.

In Harrisburg, the word is that Pennsylvania is setting up a $15 million pilot program for the purposes of giving support services and housing help to state residents who are fighting opioid addiction. The federal grant, according to Governor Tom Wolf’s administration, aims to encourage treatment and recovery and reduce overdose deaths. As far as services, temporary rent assistance, food stamp applications, and linking people with recovery services are all on the table. 16 agencies will take the grant, based on their county’s rate of substance abuse and overdose-related deaths. The administration estimates that drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania fell from about 5,600 in 2017 to about 4,300 last year, according to AP News.

On Wednesday, teachers, students, and lawmakers held a rally at the Capitol rotunda in support of new legislation that would aim to provide free college for PA students. The “Pa. Promise” plan would provide grants “of at least $1,000 per year for community college students for two years and a minimum of $2,500 per year for four years to Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Schools and state-related institutions,” according to the office of Sen. Vincent Hughes. Though it’s not yet clear who the state would have pay for this program, it’s a step in the right direction for a lot of PA students.

In Philadelphia, City Council has started hearings on Mayor Kenney’s proposed budget. Many of the Council members had the same concern - the streets. Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams says that their goal is to finish paving more quickly in the coming year, by giving contractors ten days, rather than three weeks, to complete a job. There was also a myriad of questions concerning the rising prices of taking care of PA residents in prison, even though the number of people behind bars has gone down. For the response on that and other questions posed, read here.

That’s all for this week! Follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/22/2019

World News and Governor Wolf's Budget

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen - happy Friday! Here’s everything you need to know this week:

As far as world politics is concerned, European Union officials have agreed to extend the deadline for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc until May 22. This is in an effort to make sure that Britain doesn’t leave the EU without a deal, trying to avoid a potentially disastrous exit.

New Zealand was swift in their action to ban assault-style rifles like the one used in the devastating Christchurch shooting, but that’s not all. In addition to the assault rifle ban, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has “pledged to hold social media platforms accountable for letting the speech thrive of their platforms”. Since Thursday, two people have been charged in New Zealand with spreading the killer’s video of part of the attack.

In Philadelphia news, Governor Tom Wolf traveled to Taggart Elementary School in South Philly this past week to speak about his proposed four-year $4.5 billion “Restore Pennsylvania” initiative. The goal is to fix crumbling school and repair storm damage, as well as expand high-speed internet across the state. Philadelphia is a specific point of contention, with its 200 aging district schools - Wolf’s team estimates that it will cost upward of $100 million to repair and remove the lead paid and other perils. https://www.philly.com/news/lead-poison-children-philadelphia-schools-governor-tom-wolf-pennsylvania-toxic-city-20190321.html Wolf’s current plan to fund the initiative is a “modest severance tax” on natural gas extraction. However, in a Republican-lead Assembly, the proposed severance tax is sparking lots of backlash, despite the fact that the tax would generate more than $300 million per year. The outcome remains to be seen.

This week in City Council, Councilmember Domb kicked off the day by leading a presentation honoring Vernon Odom as he retires from his position as a reporter from 6ABC after 42 years. Following that, Councilmember Blackwell lead a presentation proclaiming March 2019 as Social Work Month and encouraging all Philadelphians to support the social work profession. Finally, Councilmember Gym put forth a resolution declaring March 31st, 2019 as Transgender Day of Visibility in the City of Philadelphia.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for all the Philadelphia and PA news. See you next week!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/15/2019

Upcoming Elections, Meek Mill, and Roosevelt Boulevard

Happy Friday! Here’s your update for this week:

Voting for the municipal primary is coming up on May 21st, so make sure you register if you're planning to cast a ballot! This election will cover judges, county commissioners, district attorneys, mayors, school board members, and other local figures. In addition to local seats, there are two special elections for two state Senate seats and one U.S. congressional seat, also on May 21st. Check out this great list by WHYY to see all the due dates you need to know!

The news about Philadelphia (just some of it), is that Roosevelt Boulevard, one of Philly's deadliest roads, might finally see speed enforcement. This week, City Council took the first steps towards installing the first nine cameras along the boulevard. The 12-lane North Philly road is 12 lanes of danger, with 8 percent of fatal and severe crashes in the city between 2013 and 2017 occurring along the 12-mile stretch. Governor Tom Wolf signed the legislation at the end of 2018 for the installation of cameras, but municipal legislation has finally allowed the bill to pass. Hopefully, within the next few months, residents will see the throughway get a little safer.

If you've been following our work with Meek Mill (we hope you have), you know that it's been a year since the rapper was last in a Chester prison, but is now being honored by City Council. Meek was served with a congratulatory resolution for his criminal justice activism, and Council declared March 15-17 as Meek Mill Weekend. Council thanked him for his investment in his neighborhood and Mill thanked Philadelphia for its support, going on to say that, “We’ve got a lot of violence we’ve got to fix here, where a lot of people who look like me die on a daily basis. If you watch the news, a lot of young men die from gun violence,” Mill added. “I still try to stick as close as I can and give my influence and bring what I can bring to the city of Philadelphia, and make things a better place.”

In Philadelphia Council this week, Councilmember Cindy Bass sent forth a resolution "providing for a temporary tax amnesty program under which delinquent taxpayers may satisfy their past due tax obligations with forgiveness of all or a portion of accrued interest and penalties." Councilmember Gym had a resolution calling on the Governor to make appointments to the PA Charter Appeal Board and calling for a moratorium on its proceedings until all board members are duly appointed and confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate. Councilmember Gym also put forth a resolution declaring the week of March 17 to March 23, 2019 as "National Safe Place Week" in the City of Philadephia. Finally, Councilmember Sanchez had a resolution, which was announced at an earlier press conference with the other women of Philadelphia's City Council, to hold hearings on labor standards for domestic workers in the City of Philly.

 

That's all for this week - be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates, as always! See you next time!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/08/2019

2020 Budget Proposal

Happy International Women’s Day! (And Happy Friday!) Here’s your update for this week!

The biggest news these past few days is Mayor Jim Kenney’s 2020 budget proposal, in which Kenney proposed a nearly $5-billion budget to be approved by City Council. We’re only two months away from city elections, and Kenney’s address presented a five-year vision for the city that could give it new schools, update libraries, and hopefully cleaner streets. The proposal adds significant investments to education, violence prevention, road repairs, and measures to battle the opioid addiction.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • $1.2 billion investment into the Philadelphia School District
  • Creating five new community schools for neighborhoods that require special care and resources
  • Nearly $200 million for reconstruction and resurfacing of streets
  • Nearly $12 million to go towards street sweeping program
  • Traffic safety improvements, ADA ramp reconstruction, traffic control and signal modernization, restoring historic streets, Roosevelt Boulevard improvements and expanding bike lanes
  • Creating "Neighborhood Slow Zones", where speed limits will be posted at 20 mph and adding speed cushions
  • $48 million in continued funding for the city’s Rebuild program, which includes repairs for everything from small projects like fixing leaking roofs and replacing boilers to multi-million dollar renovations to community facilities and libraries
  • Increased support for the Free Library to keep all libraries open six days a week
  • 50 new police officers and more body-worn cameras
  • 7 currently-shuttered fire companies to reopen citywide
  • $30 million to Philadelphia’s Roadmap for Safer Communities, including funds for intervention programs, enhanced enforcement for vacant lots and other property violations in high-risk neighborhoods and nearly $12 million in funding for Neighborhood Resource Centers
  • $36 million to battle the opioid crisis through Philadelphia Resilience Project, the citywide emergency response focused on Kensington and surrounding neighborhoods

For more information and a further breakdown, visit NBC Philadelphia.

See you next week, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/01/2019

Legislations Galore

Welcome back to your weekly update! Here’s all the news you need to know:

In Philadelphia, legislation has been passed that makes Philly the first major U.S. city to force shops to take cash. Mayor Kenney signed the law on Thursday banning cashless stores, with the exception of a few businesses. The ordinance prohibits most retail locations from refusing to take cash or charging cash-customers a higher price. The law goes into effect on July 1st, and stores that fail to comply could face fines as high as $2,000. For more information on the law, check here.

Litterers and dumpers, beware: Philly has enacted a new law enforcement tool - cameras to catch trash dumpers. 15 cameras have reportedly been installed, and this number will apparently increase to fifty by the spring, and 100 by the end of the year throughout parts of the city. The city reportedly spends millions annually cleaning up illegally dumped trash, everything from food waste to couches and construction debris. Though it’s not the first city to implement cameras in well-known dumping sites, officials hope it will help the city cut back on unnecessary cost and catch perpetrators.

For the first time in two decades, the U.S. House has passed a bill to expand background checks regarding firearms purchases across the country. This signals not only a change in gun-control politics but also a power shift on Capitol Hill, with Democrats now in a position to push legislation through that previously would not have had a hearing in the GOP controlled climate. Despite the win in the House, the Senate could likely still block the bill. Advocates of the bill and of stricter gun laws still view the passage as a “major step after two decades of legislative blockades”.

In Philadelphia Council this week, Councilmember Curtis Jones kicked off the day with a presentation celebrating Philadelphia’s Living Legends: John Myers Brown, Bill Jolly, Stanley Clarke, and Solomon Jones - remarkable figures in the areas of dance, music, literature, and journalism - for the final day of Black History Month. Other notable news: Councilmember Domb put forth a resolution calling on the Governor and PA Legislature to recognize the authority and efforts of Pittsburgh City Councilmembers to protect citizens from gun violence through common-sense gun legislation following the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre.

Last but not least, we’re saying goodbye and good luck to our very own Kyle Darby, as he goes on to be a Government Relations Specialist with the REFORM Alliance. Thank you, Kyle!

Remember to follow us @PhillyAdvocates for updates! Until next time!

Bellevue Bulletin 02/22/2019

A summit in Rome; Domb introduces proposed term limits

It’s been quite a snowy week, but we’re finally at Friday. Welcome back to your weekly update!

Big news this week is happening not in the U.S., but over in Rome, Italy, where members of the ECA (Ending of Clergy Abuse) and other organizations are meeting in Vatican City for Pope Francis’ summit. The summit is in regards to the ongoing effort to prevent clergy sex abuse within the Catholic Church. According to AP News, there aren't expected to be any top members of the church's current leadership in Pennsylvania diocese in attendance, but there will be a "persistent, physical Pennsylvania presence outside the Vatican doors". State Representative Mark Rozzi told PennLive that he and at least four other PA male victims of abuse will be among the de facto international victim's congress gathering in Rome.

As the 2020 election begins to sneak up, Pennsylvania is one of the many states that will have to replace their 25,000 something voting machines by the time the election comes around. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states where some or all of its’ voters use machines that store votes electronically, without printed ballots or another paper-based backup that would allow for the double-checking of how votes are being recorded. In the wake of other questionable elections, lawmakers are pushing for these new voting machines to be up and running in time for 2020.

The biggest news in Council this week comes from Councilmember Domb, who introduced a resolution to amend the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter by providing a limitation of terms for Councilmembers in office, to no more than three terms, starting in January of 2020. In order to amend the charter voters would have to approve the motion, so Councilmember Domb requests that the measure is placed on the ballot as a referendum in the upcoming primary election.

That's all for this week! Try to stay warm and follow us @PhillyAdvocates for more!

Bellevue Bulletin 02/15/2019

City challenge to face growing hunger; violent video games proposal

Welcome back and happy Friday!

The news this week starts off with a bill that's floating around in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, regarding violent video games. Representative Christopher Quinn is hoping to propose a 10% sales tax on violent video games, with the intent of distributing said tax back to school districts currently undergoing projects related to school safety, such as bulletproof glass, metal detectors, or security cameras. Despite the well-meaning correlation, researchers say that there is no distinct connection between violent video games and violent acts, and even that the bill could be ruled unconstitutional. Read more about it here.

In Philadelphia, a new competition has arisen in an effort to combat the city's hunger crisis. The Full City Challenge is a Philly-based competition in its first season and is planning on crowing a winner early next week. The competition accepted short proposals from December of 2018 to early January this year, with an impending prize of $5,000 to create a 6-month long (or longer) pilot program aimed at tackling widespread hunger in the city.

In Philadelphia City Council, Councilmember Bill Greenlee has announced that he will not be seeking reelection after his term is up. Greenlee is a Fairmount native and attended St. Joseph’s Preparatory School and Temple University. A man of progressive legislation, Greenlee has helped to pass bills regarding paid sick leave, measures to protect domestic violence victims, and updates to the city's anti-discrimination laws.

The stated meeting of Council this week saw an introduction of legislation by Councilmember Parker requesting a May ballot question, wherein voters can decide whether to request that the PA Legislative body raise the state's minimum wage, or else allow the City of Philadeplphia to do so. Cosponsors on the bill included Councilmember Squilla and Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Bown. Councilmember Domb introduced a resolution calling on the PA Senate, Governor, and the federal government to mandate certain education initiatives in PA, and to mandate the initiatives nationwide.

Councilmembers also voted to unanimously pass both a resolution and a bill, introduced by Councilmember Derek Green, to present to voters during the May 21st Primary, an opportunity to amend the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to include non-gendered terms such as "Councilmember", rather than male-gendered terms like "Councilman".

That's all for this week! Remember to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more!

Bellevue Bulletin 02/08/2019

State of the Union sparks differing responses

Hey everybody, happy Friday!

We know you've been hearing a lot about the President's State of the Union address, so we'll be quick in recapping it. The annual speech was delayed due to the lengthy government shutdown but the President did eventually appear in front of Congress to give his notes, with both Vice President Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat behind him. Female Democrats wore all white in honor of the suffragette movement, which celebrated 100 years of women having the vote! Check out this compilation of what PA lawmakers had to say about the speech in this article by Penn Live. 

In Philadelphia, the fight to open a supervised opioid injection site has hit a roadblock. A US attorney in Pennsylvania is suing the private nonprofit corporation, Safehouse, in an effort to delay the opening of any sites. This follows criticism from PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has spoken out against safe-injection sites and says, "There is no safe way to inject heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanyl". It's not clear yet for how long, if at all, the case will delay the potential creation of a safe-injection site. 

In Philadelphia City Council, councilmember Henon had his first day back after being indicted last week. If you've been sticking with us, you already know about the bill proposed in Council that would have regulated pharmaceutical sales representatives in the city. Introduced last fall by Councilman Greenlee and Councilwoman Bass, the bill hung in limbo for a while before finally being voted down this Thursday. The proposal would have required drug company sales reps to be registered with the city and would have banned giving gifts to health care providers and their office staff. At the moment, there's no telling if another bill of similar nature will come up again.

Also this week in Council, Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown put forth a resolution recognizing the City Treasurer's Office under the leadership of City Treasurer Rasheia Johnson and the Reconciliation Task Force for the successful reconciliation of the city's bank accounts. Among the other resolutions introduced called for Council to hold hearings on the potential for abuse in the guardianship appointment process and the financial burdens that such abuse could cause; a resolution calling for Council Special Committee hearings to examine adequate solutions in addressing the specific needs of incarcerated women. Councilwoman Gym put forth a resolution declaring February 2-11, 2019 as "National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action", in the city. Councilman Oh put forth a resolution declaring that the 3rd week of March shall be Martial Arts week in the City of Philadelphia.

That's all for this week. Remember to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates - see you soon!

 

Bellevue Bulletin 01/31/2019

Record-breaking cold can't stop Philly Reps in the House

Happy Friday!

In the midst of record-breaking cold in the mid-west to Maine, the government is back in action after 35 days. Philadelphia's temperature is dropping to "below freezing" levels, with Camden schools closing and the Philadelphia School District reporting that many school buses have been delayed, anywhere from one to two hours. So far, the lowest recorded temperature in North America this time around is -39 degrees, in International Falls, Minnesota.

News from Harrisburg brings some good news for Philadelphia. The city's representatives have been appointed to high-level committees in the House of Representatives, placing Philadelphians in great positions to advocate on a range of ultra-important issues. State Senator Larry Farnese of the 1st District will chair the Community, Economic & Regional Development Minority Committee, while State Sen. Christine Tartaglione from the 2nd District continues to Chair Labor and Industry. State Senator Sharif Street comes from the 3rd District to chair the Banking and Insurance Committee and State Sen. Art Haywood will chair the Health and Human Services Committee. From the 5th District State Senator John Sabatina, Jr. chairs the Transportation Committee; District 7 has State Senator Vincent Hughes leads the Democratic chair on the Appropriations Committee. State Senator Anthony Williams will head the State Government Committee. For a full breakdown of the Senator's other committee assignments, click here.

Back home in Philadelphia, the long-awaited sale of the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building at 4601 Market Street is moving forward again, after being halted by City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.  The property has been owned by the city for a number of years, and the bid for a health campus is coming back into action with Blackwell ready to hand over the building. Read more here.

As always, exciting things went down in the Philadelphia Council Caucus room, beginning with a presentation congratulating the Please Touch Museum on the opening of their America to Zanzibar Exhibit, which will be open to the public beginning February 2, 219 - September 19, 2019.  Bills introduced included Council President Clarke's resolution, calling for hearings on the Philadephia Government's plan to expand the use of the Girard Medical Center Drug Treatment Facility. Check out Council's official website or their Twitter for more!

Try to keep warm and remember to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates! Until next time!

Bellevue Bulletin 01/25/2019

Council's First 2019 Session Sees Controversial Bills

Happy Friday!

We're nearing in the 35th day of the federal government shutdown, and the Senate's attempt to reopen the government on February 8th has failed. President Trump has since announced that he will not give the annual State of the Union address until after the government opens, but for now, the stalemate continues. After the Senate's two failed attempts to get back into action, there's no telling how long it will last.

Despite the shutdown, Philadelphia's City Council had its first session of the new year. Let's recap some of the bills that were held over from last year:

Council's last session of the 2018 calendar year saw more than 40 bills passed but left two significant ones lying on the table. Namely, a bill that would regulate pharmaceutical sales representatives, which would require salespeople to register with the city and submit the materials they intend to distribute to any healthcare providers or office workers, as well as prohibiting them from giving out free samples, including dinners, to doctors. Despite the holding of this bill last season, Council has said it's committed to bringing it back to the table in the 2019 season. Supporters of the bill say that the regulations within the bill are needed to address the role of "aggressive marketing" in the city's ongoing opioid crisis. However, those within the pharmaceutical industry have expressed concern about the ordinance, namely that it discourages connections made in Philadelphia by researchers, scientists, and healthcare providers. At the moment, it's unclear if this bill will really do much, if anything, to combat the opioid epidemic. The bill was set to be brought back to the table on Thursday but was absent. Does the bill now contain some amendments? Stick with us and we'll tell you everything we know.

In other news, Philadelphia has developed a new process for halting land sales. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority has put the emergency brake on a large portion of public land sales it had been attempting to make after a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed significant political meddling. The majority of land owned by the city has been sold through an obscure process that depends on the approval of the Vacant Property Review Committee. The PRA, however, is the final step in executing the title transfers on all sales, but have since frozen all VPRC-related transfers since November 20th. A single, streamlined system is now in the works.

Follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates to stay updated throughout the shutdown and the new year!

Additionally, if you are a federal worker or looking for some ways to help out, the Philadelphia Inquirer has created a comprehensive guide of where to find help, and how to help. Check it out here.

Bellevue Bulletin 01/18/2019

The Low-Down on the Shutdown

Happy Friday! Here's what's happening in Philadelphia:

We’re in week three of the federal government shutdown, one that has made history as the longest the country has ever seen, and it’s affecting Americans all over the country, especially those in our home city of Philadelphia.

Across the United States, airports have been significantly impacted by the shutdown – both Boston and Atlanta have closed TSA security checkpoints due to high numbers of employees calling out “sick”, as they’re working without any pay, for now the third week in a row. Airline unions have sent a letter on to Washington pleading for an end to the shutdown – to no avail. While we may not be seeing major issues yet in the Philadelphia airport, we know that our own international hub will be starting to see problems.

Federal worker unions in Philadelphia and beyond, including NATCA have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration claiming unconstitutionality in being forced to work without pay. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled against the workers. Most of the 80 NATCA members who are employed at the Philadelphia International Airport are working without pay, and four have been furloughed, according to the Daily Inquirer.

During this shutdown, little things have been adding up and making life less than simple for many Philadelphians. This week, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or, SNAP benefits, were told that their benefits for the entire month of February will be transferred early to their EBT cards, with no additional funding coming forth in February. There 1.8 million Pennsylvanians who receive SNAP benefits, and nearly half a million of those Pennsylvanians reside in Philadelphia.

While the bad news is abundant, Philadelphia is doing all it can to help its’ residents at this time. Philadelphia and national companies and institutions are popping up with services to help the 800,000 federal employees who are living without paychecks. Philadelphia’s museums were the first to start this trend, according to PhillyVoice, by offering free admission to federal workers. Even as some federal employees are being asked to return to work without any pay, other companies like the YMCA are offering free monthly memberships and trying to get food out to those in need.

Hopefully this trend of brotherly love will continue in the city, and meanwhile, the federal government will get closer to reopening.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates!

Bellevue Bulletin 01/04/2019

A Swearing-In Recap, and a Happy New Year!

Happy first Friday of the New Year, everyone!

We're bringing you a special report today with a recap of the swearing-in ceremonies that happened on New Year's Day. A record number of women were sworn into Congress, including seven new lawmakers. In total, twelve Senate seats will now be held by women. In the House, 43 newly elected members found their seats on Tuesday, with women and Democrats gaining a number of those seats.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania legislature kicked off its two-year session with all of the swearing-in ceremonies, which were decidedly celebratory. In the Senate, there are seven new lawmakers, including four from the counties ringing Philadelphia: Sens. Katie Muth (D., Montgomery), Maria Collett (D., Montgomery), Timothy Kearney (D., Delaware) and Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks).

In the 203-member House, there are 43 newly elected members — again, with more than half elected by voters in either Philadelphia and its suburbs or Allegheny County. They include Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler (D., Philadelphia), Meghan Schroeder (R., Bucks), Jennifer O’Mara (D., Delaware), Wendi Thomas (R., Bucks), Mary Isaacson (D, Philadelphia), and Todd Polinchock (R., Bucks).

Representative Jordan Harris (D., Philadelphia) is the caucus' new whip, and Representative Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia), is the caucus chair, and Representative Rosita Youngblood (D., Philadelphia) is its secretary. Go Philly!

Click here for more specifics on the new Reps and Senators!

During the swearing-in ceremonies of the Senate, GOP Majority Leader Jake Corman advocated bipartisan efficiency, telling members, "It doesn't matter what we're for, doesn't matter what we want to do. If we don't get it done, we've failed." The House Minority Leader Frank Dermody echoed Corman's promise of compromise. 

Following the ceremonies for new members, both congressional chambers adopted updates rules that will govern their conduct for the coming years. The House updated over a dozen rules, most relating to the legislative process: the chamber decreased the number of members assigned to standing committees and did away with "ghost amendments" - amendments tacked on to other, unspecified amendments on a bill, often for the purpose of bogging down legislation.

Lawmakers also voted to allow non-religious invocations at the start of their sessions and passed a rule creating a new, bipartisan committee called the House Government Oversight Committee, which has been given the power to subpoena to review actions by the executive branch.

They have also ordered the Ethics Committee to investigate sexual harassment allegations.

The final piece of news is the vote that granted Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House gavel. Click here to see how your lawmaker voted.

That's all for today, folks! Happy New Year, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for a whole new year of news!

Bellevue Bulletin 12/14/2018

Wrapping Up for the Holidays

Happy Friday! Here’s your news for the week:

The Philadelphia School District has decided after several delayed attempts to start this school year – the 2019-2020 school year will begin after Labor Day, on September 3rd. The 2018-2019 school year saw a record early start, which many were unhappy with, considering the heat wave that caused a flurry of early dismissals and half days. It seems we’re back to normal!

Big news came from the Mayor’s office earlier this week (if you’re an intern). Beginning in the summer of 2019, Mayor Kenney’s administration has announced that they will begin paying its’ interns $12.25/hour, which meets Philadelphia’s standard for a living wage. After facing criticism for failing to offer compensation, the office tracked down enough money to be able to pay their interns year-round, including the 50 students that work for the office for nine weeks every summer.

The new Philadelphia School Board is making big decisions already, including allowing the Richard Allen Preparatory School to remain open, with conditions, of course. After a 5-3 vote, the new school board overturned the School Reform Commission’s decision from a year back, which voted not to renew the charter for the school, citing its poor academic performance. The new conditions for the school state that if improvement targets aren’t met, the school will voluntarily close its doors on June 2021. Why is this vote important? It determines the new school board’s view on charters, and whether or not to continue the SRC’s previous practices.

Philadelphia’s City Council had its’ last session of the 2018 calendar year on Thursday, and it passed more than 40 bills but left two important ones lying on the table. One bill would have regulated pharmaceutical sales reps, and the other would have approved the sale of a city-owned property in West Philly for its’ development as a health campus. The first bill would have required drug salespeople to register with the city and submit materials they intended to distribute, as well as prohibit them from giving free samples or gifts (including dinners) to doctors. As for the holding of the city property, sponsor Jannie Blackwell said she didn’t believe the administration had enough information to provide the public. For the full rundown on both of these bills, click here.

That’s all for this week, folks! See you soon! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more updates.

Bellevue Bulletin 12/7/2018

A Big Week for the City

Happy Friday, everyone! We’re a few weeks away from the New Year, and there’s tons of stuff happening in Philadelphia. Read on for more!

First, GQ Magazine has named Philadelphia their City of the Year! The magazine has dedicated two whole pages in its December issue to Philly, written by Germantown native Zach Baron, who labels Philly “a model city, with a Super Bowl-winning (and Trump Defying) NFL team and a new radical political class.” Inside the editorial are interviews with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, Meek Mill, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and South Philly Barbocoa chef Cristina Martinez.

In sadder news, Mayor Jim Kenney’s father, 83-year-old retired firefighter James F. Kenney Sr., died on Tuesday, Dec. 4th at Jefferson Frankford Hospital. Mr. Kenney was a Philadelphia firefighter for 22 years, retiring in 1980.

All kinds of exciting things happened at City Council’s extra-long session this Thursday. The highly anticipated “Fair Workweek” law was passed, which will require establishments to release more predictable schedules for their employees. Council also passed a bill proposing cut loopholes in the housing system that have allowed developers to gain profit off of city-owned land illegally. In addition, Philadelphia’s hub, 30th Street Station, is set for an upgrade, courtesy of a $15 million federal grant.

Also in Council, Councilman Oh introduced a number of resolutions including: Congratulating Laurin Talese for winning the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition; calling for hearings on how hemp can spur economic development in Philadelphia; honoring Harvey Holiday on the occasion of his retirement after extraordinary service as a broadcaster of nearly 30 years with WOGL Radio. Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown introduced a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Education to reconsider the new guidelines that would make it more difficult for victims of sexual assault on college campuses to attain justice.

New Jersey-based company, Pantone, has selected their Color of the Year! It’s the vibrant, beautiful Living Coral!

That’s all for this week folks! Follow us @PhillyAdvocates for more!

Bellevue Bulletin 12/3/2018

Remembering George H.W. Bush, and welcoming Michelle Obama to Philly!

Happy Monday, everyone! Here’s your recap of last week and everything you need to know for the next few days.

On Saturday, former president George H. W. Bush passed at the age of 94. Regardless of affiliation, many community and political leaders in Philadelphia and New Jersey released statements of remembrance for the 41st president. Former PA Governor and the former Democratic mayor of Philadelphia said, “For a Republican, he was pretty good to cities”. Former President Bush will be remembered by those who knew him as a tireless humanitarian and a great patriot.

In Philadelphia news, the charity of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that they will donate $50 million to help fight the national opioid epidemic. The first $10 million, Bloomberg says, will be going to Pennsylvania, the first state to receive funding over the next three years. Nine other states will be receiving the remaining funds to address the causes of opioid addiction and strengthen prevention and treatment programs. The initiative involves partnerships with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, The Pew Charitable Trusts, John Hopkins University, and Vital Strategies.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama visited Philadelphia this past Thursday, as she was set to appear in South Philly at the Wells Fargo Center for a conversation about her new book, “Becoming”. Mrs. Obama arrived in town early at the African American Museum of Philadelphia to sit down with a dozen African-American high school girls, WHYY reports, to give a talk about having the confidence to try new things. The students were from the citywide extracurricular group, beGirl.world, which encourages teens to seek new opportunities. A quote of the night from Mrs. Obama: “You can work beyond whatever limitations you have on paper.” Thank you, Michelle!

This past week in Council, Councilwoman Gym and Councilman Johnson introduced a resolution congratulating Anea B. Moore, a Philadelphia SD graduate and Penn University Senior, on being named a 2019 Rhodes Scholar. Councilman Domb introduced a resolution recognizing the DEA Philadelphia’s “360 Strategy”, a new and innovative three-pronged approach to combating heroin/opioid use through Law Enforcement, Diversion, and Community Outreach. Councilman Jones introduced a resolution congratulating the Please Touch! Museum on their upcoming “American to Zanzibar” Exhibit, a vibrant exhibition celebrating the diversity of modern and historic Muslim communities across Philadelphia and the world! Finally, Councilman Jones also kicked off the day by leading a presentation honoring local American Idol star, Michael J. Woodard for making it to the top 5 of the series and congratulating him on his participation in the upcoming American Idol Live! Tour! Woodard even gave a beautiful a cappella performance in the chambers!

That’s all for this week! You’re caught up and ready for what’s coming! Be sure to follow us @PhillyAdvocates so you don’t miss anything!

Bellevue Bulletin 11/16/2018

Philly Still Wins Despite HQ2 Loss

Happy Friday! Here’s your recap for this week.

After a fourteen-month-long competition, Amazon has chosen its’ HQ2 winners – unfortunately, Philadelphia didn’t get this one. Amazon decided on Arlington, Virginia and Long Island City, New York to place their new headquarters. 238 bids in total were made at the beginning of the competition, so it says a lot for Philly that we made it to the top 20! Mayor Jim Kenney wants everyone to know that despite not winning the bid, he is “So proud of what we did together in the #PhillyDelivers campaign”. Philly is still the best city to live, work, and play! (At least, in our opinion.)

The Streets Department of Philly has launched a new, six-month pilot program in the northern area of the city, which aims to provide 35-gallon trashcans to all homeowners who apply. The program, called PhilaCan, is based on a similar initiative in Baltimore. The project is designed to reduce litter and is being rolled out in neighborhoods with the worst litter pile-up in the city. All 2,090 houses within the area of Broad to 18th and Cecil B. Moore to Cumberland are eligible for participation in the program. Though experts agree there may be flaws in the program, the city hopes it will help to keep streets cleaner and come March 1st, they’ll decide whether to extend and expand the program.

It’s Transgender Awareness Week all across the country this November and Philadelphia and its residents are seeking to educate people on the issues facing the diverse and growing community. Tons of free events and rallies happened this week, leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, where participants memorialize victims of transphobia who have been murdered. Check out the Trans Equity Project’s Twitter for an event calendar and to read up on everything they’re doing!

Philadelphia is one of the cities with the highest rates of homicide – but law enforcement officers are taking steps to make sure the death toll doesn’t get higher. Philadelphia is one of the only cities where police officers routinely rush gunshot and stab wound victims to the nearest trauma center rather than waiting for an ambulance. Last year, a third of Philly’s 1,223 shooting victims were delivered to the city’s trauma center in the back of a wagon or cruiser. The good example is spreading across the country, and cities like Camden, New Jersey are embracing the practice of “scoop and go”, as Philly calls it. Police Chief of Camden, Scott Thomson, says of the practice, “The streets are always watching, and they see your behavior, and actions speak far louder than words”.

In Council this week, Councilwoman Cindy Bass introduced multiple resolutions aimed at protecting our veterans. One called on Council to hold hearings about the state of homeless veterans in Philly, and how to connect them to supportive services. Another called on Council to hold hearings on post-traumatic stress disorder and improving access to mental health services for the City’s veteran population, while another asked for hearings regarding the challenges facing women veterans transitioning from military to civilian life, and how to access vital programs and services. Thank you, Cindy!

That’s the big news for this week! Be sure to check back soon, and in the meantime follow us @PhillyAdvocates for constant updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 11/9/2018

All About the Election

Happy Friday! Here’s your weekly recap.

We’re doing an in-depth recap of the Midterm Elections today because the turnout in Philadelphia was epic.

Literally, this election broke records with voter turnout, number of women on the ballot, and a couple other categories. Let’s start with voter turnout: While typically quite low in non-presidential elections, this midterm election saw a new record set with early voter turnout, with 39 million people estimated to have voted early. Voter turnout spiked significantly among voters under 30, exceeding 2014 levels in at least 12 states, including our neighbor, New Jersey. The New York Times estimated that roughly 114 million ballots were cast this year – significantly ahead to the 83 million that were cast in 2014.

Another broken record: the number of people who filed to run for office reached an all-time high. And – the best part – a record number of women ran and won in the 2018 congressional races, breaking the record for the number of women serving in the U.S. Congress. Ready for this? In addition to out-performing previous records at state level, women won their primaries to become their parties’ nominee in 45% of House races, or a total of 235, which breaks the 2016 record of 167. Women were the major party nominees in 22, or 63%, of Senate races, beating the high of 18 from 2012. Not only were there a record number of female candidates, but this election saw a 755 increase in women of color running for Congress. Talk about making history!

An even bigger list of firsts: A record-high of 244 candidates who identify as LGBT ran for office at the state and federal level, and Jared Polis, winner of the governor’s race in Colorado, will be America’s first-ever openly gay male governor. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at 29 years old. Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first Native America congresswomen. Young Kim from California will be the first Korean-American women in Congress. And there’s more! Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan were elected as the first-ever female Muslim members of Congress.

If you want the full run-down of these candidates and their platforms, as well as some other record-breaking information, check out this article by the Business Insider.

Now for the breakdown of the Philadelphia-area elections: 13 incumbents in the General Assembly lost their bids for re-election, and 11 of those seats were in the Philadelphia suburbs. In the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, at least 11 more incumbents went down, with 9 coming from the Philly area. As far as total votes cast, it’s estimated that the number of votes cast on Tuesday in the Philadelphia area exceeded the total votes cast in the 2014 midterms, by more than 150,000. Philly really turned out! All of the city’s 66 wards were believed to have exceeded the total turnout of 2014.

There was no council this week, so stay tuned next week for more updates! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more!

Bellevue Bulletin 11/1/2018

Philly gets two awards!

Happy Friday and Happy November! Read on for a recap of this week's biggest news.

By now, you've no doubt heard about the tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill this past Saturday. The updated news is this: Robert Bowers, the man who allegedly opened fire in the peaceful synagogue, plead not guilty in federal court on Thursday, and requested a jury trial on his charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell granted a 45-day pretrial period to allow further investigation. To catch up on the full charges and all the details, click here.

The city of Philadelphia has won not just one, but two different awards! The first: Philadelphia has won a $1 million award to support its proposal for a juvenile center designed to avoid re-traumatizing children who abruptly enter the justice system. The center, named the Hub for Juvenile Justice Services, will be a 24 hour, 7 days a week integrated service center with staff dedicated and educated on dealing with trauma, trained to respond to the immediate and long-term needs of youth and their families. Services will be for prevention, community support, and pretrial diversion programs, among others. Nine other cities also received this awesome $1 million award for innovative programs targeting homelessness, the opioid crisis, and criminal justice reform.

The second: Philadelphia has been announced as one of the winners of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge award, which could total $2 million or more! The award will go towards efforts to address climate change and sustainability in Philadelphia. The award is given out to 20 different cities in America that have illustrated plans to tackle the various issues of climate change and promoting sustainability. Philadelphia's plan outlines key areas to be addressed to rein in energy use in buildings and namely, transportation. Read more about it here.

In Philadelphia City Council news, know that there's no stated meeting next week! During this week's proceedings, Councilman Domb introduced a resolution in remembrance of the 11 lives lost on October 27 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and recognized the need for unity amidst a historic rise in anti-Semitic incidents and pronounced divisiveness in America. Councilman Henon introduced a resolution recognizing December 5th as AFL-CIO Day in Philadelphia in honor of the decades of tireless work that the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has done on behalf of working Americans. Councilman Henon and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill related to the City's Hate Crime code to provide for penalties for age and ethnicity targeted crimes, and further, to align the City code with the State Hate Crimes Code.

That's all for this week, and don't forget to vote!

Bellevue Bulletin 10/19/2018

New Laws, New Plans, New Bills

Happy Friday, everybody! Read on for your big news for the week.

In Harrisburg, federal prosecutors have opened an investigation of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in PA, with the help of subpoenas that demand files and testimony from high-ranking leaders. Victims’ advocates are saying that this is the first probe of this nature launched by the U.S. Justice Department – which very well may be true. After a state grand jury report revealed over the summer, the state found that 301 priests in Pennsylvania had molested more than 1,000 children over seven decades. It’s no secret that this topic is controversial and tricky, as the federal government is typically silent on cases of a religious nature. The probe by the justice department aims to reveal the church leaders that have covered up for the offenders for decades.

A bill passed late on Wednesday in the PA Legislature will yield tougher penalties for repeated DUI offenders. This bill would establish the state’s very first felony offense of driving under the influence, applying to those with a third conviction of driving with at least twice the legal limit of alcohol in their system and anyone with a fourth DUI conviction. The good-news legislation will establish more severe penalties that include longer mandatory jail time for unintentionally caused death, as the result of a repeat DUI violation. Sadly, there are about 10,000 alcohol-related crashes and 300 fatalities annually in PA alone – hopefully, stricter laws will help to bring these numbers down.

At home in Philadelphia, Mayor Kenney has unveiled his new plan to further address the opioid crisis, two weeks after the declared disaster in Kensington. At the Emergency Operations Center, the tool the city uses to respond to snowstorms and other major events, Kenney revealed his new-directional plan to address the growing danger in Kensington due to open drug use. Kenney said he’s calling the efforts, “the Philadelphia Resilience Project, because Philadelphians have proven…we’re resilient and there’s nothing we can’t overcome”. The immediate goals include clearing the Frankford Ave. encampment by November 16th, and long-term closing all encampments, as well as expanding medically assisted treatment.

In City Council, Councilwoman Parker lead a presentation recognizing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and honoring Tracis Bio, a non-profit breast cancer support organization whose mission is to help survivors maintain a level or normalcy. Councilwoman Blackwell lead a presentation proclaiming the week of October 15th, 2018 ‘Philly Financial Literacy Week’. Among the resolutions, Councilwoman Blackwell introduced October 2018 as Blindness Awareness Month in Philly; Councilman Domb had a resolution recognizing October 2018 as National Bullying Prevention Month, and Councilman Oh had a resolution recognizing October 2018 as Filipino American History Month in the city!

Another note: Philadelphia residents looking to pick up a new recycling bin will have an opportunity to do so this Saturday during a giveaway event in Fox Chase, hosted by Councilman O’Neill, from 9 A.M. to noon! (432 Rhawn Street, Fox Chase)

That’s all for this week – follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more news!

Bellevue Bulletin 10/12/2018

Community, Community, Community

Happy Friday, everybody! Read on for your big news for the week.

Starbucks has chosen a site in West Philadelphia (born and raised, not a playground) as the home for its newest “community store”, set to be in operation within the next two years. A community store, per Starbuck’s definition, is a café that relies on women and person of color-owned firms for construction, hires local women and POC artists to decorate, and pledges to keep local companies as primary suppliers. A community store also dedicates interior space to programming “designed to help residents flourish”. After the incident at 18th and Spruce, Starbucks took great steps to prove to local stakeholders that they have good intentions. At the moment, no lease has been signed and therefore the exact location is not available yet to the public. A rep for Starbucks stated, “the store will be built by local contractors, will likely sell baked goods provided by local companies owned by women and POC, will offer a youth employee training program for 16 to 24-year-olds and will serve as a “center for discourse for conversation for social change” while invigorating the local economy”.

Philadelphia’s court system has a controversial policy that advocates have been pleading for a change to – the policy currently allows the court system to keep 30 percent of all posted bail, even when a defendant is acquitted, and even when the bail was posted by a nonprofit community bail fund. On Wednesday, the First Judicial District court announced that it would end the policy. At the same time, however, the FJD rescinded its policy on probation detainers that previously stated automatic detainers were only required when people were charged with a very serious crime. The question has now become – what is the new practice for notifying judges when defendants on probation are charged with new crimes? Criminal justice reform is a topic that Philadelphia is always hounding – and rightfully so. Hopefully this change will push us forward in a good way.

This week, Governor Wolf and Scott Wagner, former state senator, were faced with a very difficult audience with some very difficult questions – fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from local Philadelphia schools. The children grilled the candidates on everything from how to keep their schools safe, stop bullying, and what the candidates would do about increasingly common school shootings. Both candidates voiced their support for more funding and their distaste for standardized testing. Everything else, however, they had starkly different potential solutions for. Wagner promised to “sit on City Hall” and press local leaders on the issues of education reform, while Wolf leaned on his record as PA’s chief executive, and the promise of potential grants. To read their full answers, (including who they’d root for if the Eagle’s and the Steeler’s went to the Super Bowl against each other) click here.

This week in Philadelphia’s City Council news, the council’s new housing plan dropped on Wednesday. Many found the plan to be ambitious, slightly controversial, but with good intentions. While council was clear that this is not an affordable housing plan, the consensus was clear within the plan that the city will not be likely to receive additional funding from the state anytime soon and will move forward without it. The plan proposes additional dollars for housing repair, a reworked eviction prevention plan, and shallow rent subsidies in Philly’s divested neighborhoods. One key strategy they plan to act on is legal support for renters facing eviction. To read more about the plan, click here.

A fairly quiet day in Philadelphia’s council opened with Councilwoman Sanchez leading a presentation congratulating Nelson Diaz on the release of his new book entitled, Not from Here, Not from There/No Soy de Aqui ni de Alla, and recognizing Nelson for his contributions to the Philadelphia community. Councilwoman Blackwell introduced a resolution urging the administration to keep locations of the Free Library open, while Councilman Greenlee introduced legislation to regulate how pharmaceutical manufacturer’s reps interact with and influence health care providers.

Your final piece of news this week is that Uber will be offering free rides on Election Day in November! Find your polling place!

That’s all for this week – follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more news!

Bellevue Bulletin 10/05/2018

The City is moving along - in a lot of different ways

Happy October! (And Happy Friday, of course.) Here's your news for the week.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has pressed charges against two police officers in a stop-and-frisk case that experts are saying might be the first of its kind in the nation. DA Krasner promised during his campaign to hold the police accountable for their alleged criminal misconduct while on the job, and so far has filed charges against eight city officers for six different on-duty incidents. This time, two officers are being accused of making a pedestrian stop-and-frisk, detaining the citizen without cause, and then lying on official paperwork. While police are rarely ever taken to court over stop-and-frisk misconduct, DA Krasner looks like he’s opting to try and change that. To read the full story and the press release, click here.

Citizens of Philadelphia are making their voices heard – a petition calling for free public transportation on voting day has picked up steam this week in preparation for the upcoming election in November. The petition, created by the Philadelphia nonpartisan transportation PAC 5th Square, began on Tuesday and by Wednesday, had more than 340 signatures. Their goal is to ease the burden and to make voting more convenient, and “create a culture that values voting from the highest levels of City government on down”. After the 2012 presidential elections, studies found that a lack of transportation was a key contributor to the election’s weak voter turnout. Let’s change that.

Philadelphia has had one or two (or five) issues with bike lanes in the city over the years. But that’s about to change – the city has just secured a $3 million state grant for a transportation project on Market Street, between 2nd and 6th streets in Old City. The current plan is to change the road from four travel lanes to three, and to add protected bike lanes in each direction, as well as pedestrian islands along the roadway, while not taking away the essential parking spots. While the project is expected to cost somewhere around $7 million total, it’s still moving in the right direction, and the city’s plans for protected bike lanes along South and 27th Street are trucking along, too. Woo!

In City Hall this week, Council passed a package of housing bills after they were in debate for more than a year. Protesters however, are arguing that the bills still don’t do enough to address the growing affordability crisis. In the package of bills includes a new inclusionary zoning bonus, which would provide developers with the chance to construct larger buildings in exchange for House Trust Fund payments totally somewhere around $18 million over the next five years. It includes a transfer ordinance, a bill committing to the larger projection of $71 million over the next five years, and a bill that ensures the money secured from sources would be spent on housing for the working to middle class, as well as for the city’s neediest. How this will work obviously remains to be seen, but we’re hoping for the best.

Also in Council this week: Councilman Domb had a resolution honoring Richard Vague, the recipient of the 2018 Icon Award. Councilwoman Blackwell had a resolution recognizing October 9th as Charles W. Bowser Day in Philadelphia, in recognition of his lifelong dedication to public service and his contributions to the African American community here. Councilman Greenlee kicked off the day with a presentation recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Philadelphia.

That’s all for this week! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 09/28/2018

Wawa Wars, Kavanaugh, and Municipal I.D.s

It's finally Friday! Here's the big stuff for this week:

On Thursday, City Council unanimously voted in a bill that will allow for the issuing of municipal identification cards beginning next year. If you’ve been with us for a while, you know we mentioned this a few weeks ago – following in the footsteps of Chicago, Philadelphia will allow citizens to show some other form of identification, such as a birth certificate, or even a bill for proof of residency. The cards will contain name, date of birth, a photo, address, and renewal date and will be accepted at all city agencies and departments, and any entity that receives city funding.

The U.S. is leaning forward in their seats waiting to hear the verdict of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee – the feelings are split. Some call for the committee not to vote Kavanaugh in after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony where she relayed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in high school – Kavanaugh denies all her claims. Sources close to the GOP Kavanaugh nomination conceded that the votes are “definitely close”, but still unclear. You can bet that as soon as the verdict is reached, we’ll be Tweeting it!

There’s been a long-time debate between Sheetz and Wawa fans over which quick shop is superior – now it’s gotten political. Both stores have donated to opposing PA governor campagins, with Wawa backing Republican runner Scott Wagner, while Sheetz has donated to Democratic favorite and current governor, Tom Wolf. Both convenience stores and runners dodged the question when asked about the endorsements, seeming not to want to put too much weight on the donations as part of the overall campaigns.

At council this week, Councilman Jones led a presentation recognizing October 1st through the 5th as Philadelphia Minority Enterprise Development Week, which provides critical information, resources, and opportunities and inspiration for the minority business community. Councilman Taubenberger led a presentation honoring 2nd Lt. John Edwards James, Jr, for his service during World War II. He just turned 98! Councilman Domb introduced a resolution honoring and congratulating the honorees of the 2018 Stellar StartUps competition, and Councilman Squilla introduced legislation relating to a living wage increase for city workers and contractors.

That's all for now! Be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Bellevue Bulletin 09/21/2018

Trouble in Council, Facebook Groups, and an unlikely bill

Happy Friday! As usual, here's your news:

Exciting things are happening in the state of Pennsylvania today. Former President Barack Obama is in our little corner of Philadelphia, lending his voice to the re-election campaigns of both Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Governor Tom Wolf. His speaking engagement is taking place at the Dell Music Center on Strawberry Mansion Drive. Current President Donald Trump is speaking at the Republican Party of Pennsylvania’s fall dinner at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA.

A Pennsylvania Representative is taking an interesting approach to a “Teacher Code of Ethics”. Rep. Will Tallman, a Republican from Adams County, sent a memo last Friday to the entirety of the PA House, pitching a proposal for a bill that would ban political-centered discussions in kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. Tallman believes that teachers should not be using their time in the classroom perpetuating political discussion rather than teaching the necessary academic foundations. There has been differing – but intense – opinions on Tallman’s argument. Some believe the bill would prevent biased opinions from instructors that would sway already easily-influenced students, but some believe that without dialogue, we will be “mindless slugs”. So, what do you think?

With Pennsylvania’s general election slowly creeping up, the campaigns are in full swing! A new closed Facebook group has surfaced with the purpose of encouraging specifically Pennsylvanian women to participate in political dialogue in a moderated conversation. The conversation will begin on October 8th and run until November 9th and is entitled The Many/Pennsylvania. The group has a set of basic rules to govern with, ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak and that the page will remain a place of respectful, secure conversation.

Philadelphia City Council is back in session! The most notable piece of news is a street renaming – Former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode Sr. now has his own street. W. Wilson Goode Sr. Way now runs along 59th street between City and Overbrook Avenues in Overbrook Park, near the former mayor’s home. During the street naming this morning, protesters voiced their displeasure with the decision made by City Council, remembering Goode’s career as mayor during the 1985 police bombing of the MOVE headquarters that killed 11 people and destroyed some of the block. Dr. Goode stated that he did not want to be remembered for one day during his leadership.

In other, less controversial City Council news – Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown led a presentation on behalf of Council President Clarke, honoring Girard College on the 50th anniversary of its desegregation. Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown also introduced a resolution calling for Philadelphia Council to hold hearings examining child hunger in the city, with the intent of evaluating the efficacy of existing programs that address the issue. Council also unanimously adopted a series of resolutions calling for greater protections of intimate partner abuse victims. This would mean swift passage of SB501 and HB2060, which proposes that people convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense and those subject to final protection-from-abuse orders relinquish their firearms to a law enforcement agency or gun dealer within 24 hours of conviction or final order.

Bellevue Bulletin 09/07/2018

GoFundMe, Sonoco, A Win for the Eagles

Happy September! Here's your weekly update!

If you’ve been following the news on any platform, especially Twitter, you know that a New Jersey couple set up a GoFundMe for a homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt, the account which eventually amassed a total of $400,000 – only to have it disappear. Bobbitt offered his last $20 to a stranded motorist back in October of 2017, Kate McClure proceeded to launch a GoFundMe campaign on his behalf. The story quickly turned negative when the money was found to be “missing”, and was not given to Bobbitt, who says his would-be benefactors had squandered it. The latest development in this story, however, says that Bobbitt will be paid all of the money he did not already receive.

Sonoco’s plans to convert their old pipeline have been put on hold after more the 33,000 gallons of gasoline leaked into a creek near Philadelphia back in June. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration released a sheet disclosing the details of the pipe failure, including exactly how much gas leaked into the river. The data says that 798 barrels, the equivalent of 33,516 gallons were unintentionally released by the pipeline near Philly. The report did not specify any significant environmental damage but does affirm some soil contamination and plans for long-term remediation. The failed pipe has since been fully excavated, removed, and replaced.

A bill to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers has stalled in the Pennsylvania House. Under PA’s current law, people with a history of domestic abuse have 60 days to relinquish their firearms to the state – or they can give them to a relative or friend, and if they are subject to a protection from abuse order, it’s up to a judge whether or not they have to give up their guns. House Bill 2060 proposes to tighten this 60-day window to 24 hours and would require that the weapons be turned over to secure facilities. When asked if the bill might be voted on in the Senate, Steve Miskin, spokesman for the Republican House majority said that the plan is to discuss and run the bill when session begins in a few weeks.

A few housekeeping notes: City Council returns to session on September 13th in Room 400 of City Hall – be there and witness your government in action! October 9th is the last day to register to vote before the November General Election, which happens on November 6th. Remember, every vote counts!

And last but not least, our very own Philadelphia Eagles secured their first win of the season over Atlanta, using a play “eerily similar to last season’s playoff win”. Go Birds!

Remember to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates!

Bellevue Bulletin 08/31/2018

Energy Projects, Meek Mill Gives Back

Happy Friday everyone! Here's your weekly update!

A new project is in the works for Philadelphia: a refinery has announced that it plans to build a new facility that will turn food waste into methane gas. RNG Energy Solutions announced Monday that they've formed a joint venture with Philadelphia Energy Solutions to build a $120 million digester technology to convert more than 1,100 tons of food waste into highly useful methane gas. The plan is that the project will be executed in Philly's Point Breeze neighborhood and will take three years to complete.

Prior to the start of the school year, Philadelphia's String Theory Charter Schools hosted a day of mental health first aid training for its teachers and staff on Tuesday. Hundreds of teachers and instructors joined in a conference provided by the city's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Service, including a national mental health awareness organization called Project 375. Following the free eight hour training, all teachers and staff present are now certified in mental health first aid!

Meek Mill is giving back to the community as the new school year starts! Mill and the Dream Chasers, in collaboration with brands like Puma, who designed the backpacks, Fanatics, and luxury streetwear brand Milano Di Rouge also contributed supplies. So far, they've visited two of the 12 schools he’s working with to hand backpacks and supplies to students in person. One of them will be his alma mater, James G. Blaine Elementary School. Thanks, Meek!

Philly, known for its love of all things artistic, is opening a new mural exhibition designed for the upcoming election, to ensure that no one forgets they have the opportunity to have their voice heard. The mural features work done by 10 local artists and is entitled To The Polls, and opens on September 26th, two weeks before PA voter registration closes before the midterm elections. The exhibition will be located inside a warehouse space at 448 N. 10th Street, from noon to 5 p.m. daily, until October 3rd. Get out there and check out our local artists and feel inspired!

That's all for this week! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates, as always!

 

 

Bellevue Bulletin 08/24/2018

Child Therapy and Economic News

Happy Friday everyone! Stay tuned for your weekly update:

A new program in Philadelphia is trying to break the cycle of childhood anxiety caused by trauma by implementing free therapy at schools in the North Philly area. Run by the Joseph J. Peters Institute (JJPI), a Philadelphia leader in trauma research and treatment, the program is free to children aged 3 to 18, regardless of parents’ insurance.  The program operates out of a church in the 22nd Police District, close enough that many students won't have to leave school early to attend weekly appointments. The project manager at JJPI, Natalie Dallard, noted that she believed it was very important that the program be and remain neighborhood-based. Over the next two years, about 120 children will receive therapy through the program, which is funded by a nearly $200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

In local - and amusing - news, a Temple University student's picture has gone viral as she raced from the courthouse after Paul Manafort's trial to alert NBC News, where she interns, of the verdict. Cassie Semyon is a 21-year-old journalism student, whose blue dressed sprint sparked the hashtag #GoBlueDressGo to take over Twitter both locally and nationally. She credits her quick skills to high school cross-country! Go TU in blue!

If you haven't heard yet, there's some cool stuff happening in space exploration. Scientists have discovered definite evidence that there is water-ice on the moon. No, not the kind you can eat. Results coming from an instrument on India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft found ice deposits at both the northern and southern poles, and are likely very ancient in origin. Most of the ice at the lunar south pole is concentrated in craters, and at the northern pole, the water-ice is both more sparse and more widely spread. Check here for the full details!

There's good economic news circulating in Philadelphia - the city's operating budget ended the fiscal year in surplus! But that's not the only positive change Philly has seen this year in economics. Total local tax revenues jumped by more than 11 percent, partially due to the beverage tax, but even so, revenues were up nearly 10 percent before the implementation of the tax. In June, payrolls were up 2.9 percent over the year as a result, wage-tax revenue jumped nearly 6 percent. To read even more about all the great stuff happening, read here!

 

That's all the exciting stuff for this week, folks! Enjoy the weekend and don't forget to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for consistent updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 07/27/2018

Council's Soda Tax, Made in America, and the Impeachment 11

Happy Friday everybody! Here's your weekly update:

If you follow the happenings within the pop culture and entertainment community, you know that Philadelphia had recently proposed that Jay-Z's Made in America festival would have its last year on the parkway after this fall. However, after a "weeklong public spat" over possible sites, Mayor Kenney and Roc Nation confirmed that the festival will stay right where it is - the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Inquirer and Daily News asked readers to submit answers as to where the festival could be held, and out of 130 responses, 42% opted for the show to stay right where it is. Other suggestions included the Mann Center and the sports complex.

In Washington news, a group of eleven House conservatives introduced articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday. Rosenstein is the Justice Department official who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's current Russia investigation. These articles have come after months of criticism from Trump and his Republican allies, aimed at the Justice Department, particularly the Russia investigation. Trump has called the investigation a "witch hunt". The impeachment efforts are being led by North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivered its long-awaited, controversial decision last week regarding Philly's sweetened beverage tax - and Philly won this one. Two years ago, City Council passed the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages like soda and tea, and since then, it has brought in nearly $110 million to the city. The city will spend the revenue money on a number of programs, such as pre-K expansion, community schools and the rebuilding of city facilities, including parks and recreational centers. After the beverage industry's tax opponents sued the city two years ago, the PA Supreme Court's justices ruled 4-2 that the city does have the power to impose the tax, because it is on the distribution of sweetened beverages. Read more here!

Following this, Philadelphia City Council has approved 64 different Rebuild sites to begin with! According to their website, Rebuild used data about Philadelphia neighborhoods, information from other City departments, and input from City Council to propose the first list of sites. Among the sites chosen were the Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center, Cobbs Creek Park and Rec Center, Olney Recreation Center, as well as multiple library branches in the city. To see the full list of the sites, click here.

That's the biggest news for this week! Make sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for consistent news updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 07/20/2018

Building Effective Relationships by Mathieu Sullivan

Having relationships with elected officials, thought leaders, and other decision makers is important.  Leveraging and advancing those relationships, however, can be a huge difference maker in how successful (or unsuccessful) your business turns out to be.  

The “easy” part is beginning the relationship.  The nature of being a public figure is that one has to be out in the public space and available to respond to the requests of his or her stakeholders or, in the case of elected officials, his or her constituents. As a result, you can find these important decision makers rather easily, be it at a social function, or in their office in Philadelphia or Harrisburg or Washington, D.C.  If you’re reading this piece, you have most likely heard about the concept of six degrees of separation.  If you have not, it is a concept worth considering.  The theory suggests that that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of six or fewer friends or acquaintances.  

Six degrees of separation suggests that we can, and should, look beyond just our immediate ties and work on those who might be a few degrees further away.  Building relationships doesn’t always have to begin with those who are the strongest link - there are many situations where thinking outside the box is the best solution to a problem.  All of our various ties, stronger and weaker, can work in concert to create robust networks.

You may ask: “why are these relationships important?” Well, for one, you never know when an opportunity may pop up.  Having a robust network of ties could mean the difference between getting a life-changing opportunity and watching a competitor snatch it from underneath you.  Second, you can usually find someone within your network of ties who can, and will, provide you with collaboration opportunities. Good timing is everything and with a more robust network comes a greater opportunity to meet the right people at the right time.

You may also ask: “what do I do once I have built this robust network of relationships?” This is a much more involved process. Once you have built your network, you have to continue to cultivate the relationships.  Think of it as a garden: you plant the seeds and water the dirt and flowers begin to grow. However, if you don’t maintain the garden, weeds begin to grow and the flowers may start to die. If you take a laissez faire attitude towards the maintenance of your garden, the flowers will go nowhere.  They might not necessarily disappear altogether, but they certainly are not going to grow on their own.

Regardless of what you think of how our current political system operates and how our leaders work with each other, there is one truth: elected officials are busy people. They have constituents to respond to on a regular basis, who come to them with small and large matters alike.  They often have families to take care of. They sometimes have their own private interests. Once you have begun that relationship, and no matter how well you get along or how strong your ties are, you have to work on it so it will grow. Otherwise, weeds (other issues) will pop up around him or her and the relationship will become stagnant.  If you want a bill to pass (or fail), you have to find the stakeholders and the elected official who can help get it done. If you need grant money for a project, you have to talk to people who can speak on behalf of you or your organization. You cannot rely solely on relationships to get to where you want to be - you have to lobby the right people and work the appropriate angles.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help advance the process of relationship building and relationship growing:

  • The African American Chamber of Commerce is a leading advocate throughout the Delaware Valley for minority-owned businesses.  They work to enhance the footprint of African American businesses throughout the region, which in turn helps lift the economic fortunes of the black community.  They are a strong advocate for increased job and economic opportunities for African Americans.
  • The Office of Economic Opportunity works together with the business community in Philadelphia to seek out and build alliances with minority-, women-, and disabled-owned businesses, the City, and private industry.  The goal is to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that will spur further business growth and networking opportunities.
  • The Department of General Services’ Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion & Small Business Opportunities works with diverse small businesses, including minority-, women-, veteran-, and LGBT-owned enterprises, to help them compete for contracts throughout the Commonwealth.
  • The Office of Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke works towards initiatives that will help strengthen the foundation of the City.  Their legislative agenda items include the Community Sustainability Initiative (CSI), the 2,000 Affordable Housing Units Initiative, and School Based Family Services Centers.  Among those working to further the Clarke agenda is Wilson Goode, Jr., a former City Councilman and longtime advocate for economic development and for women- and minority-owned businesses.

For those who are looking to build ties or strengthen existing relationships, I urge you to utilize the resources you have around you and build up a robust network.  You won’t know where those relationships might take you unless you work on them and allow them to grow.

In the words of Thomas Edison: “There is no substitute for hard work.”

Bellevue Bulletin 07/13/2018

Water Main Breaks, Minimum Wage, and the new Board of Education

Happy Friday everyone! We're back with your weekly update!

By now you've probably heard about Philadelphia's water main break last week, which has left some buildings still without power and the city working diligently to rectify the situation. Nearly 15 million gallons of water spilled from the nearby 48-inch main at Juniper and Sansom Streets, the day before July 4th. The main break initially knocked out power to hundreds on that side of Broad. John DiGiulio, Water Department spokesperson, has said that full cleanup and repairs are expected to take several months at the moment and that the department is continuing to work with businesses that are filing claims with the city, as well as working with the PPA to determine routes for businesses which needs goods supplied. Sansom Street from 13th to Broad and Juniper from Chestnut to Walnut will be closed for the foreseeable future while the crews are working the area. 

Governor Wolf signed an executive order late in June that raises the minimum wage for state employees to $12, and revealed plans to increase pay to $15 by 2024. The measure will immediately affect pay for employees under the governor's jurisdiction, as well as employees of state contractors, those that lease property to the commonwealth, perform direct services to the commonwealth, or those who spend at least 20 percent of their working time on services related to the contract or lease through the commonwealth.  Under this order, the wage will increase by 50 cents each year until finally reaching $15/hour in 2024.

Philadelphia's new Board of Education held its first meeting on Monday evening in front of a packed house of parents, students, and community advocates. Former SRC member Joyce Wilkerson was selected as president while Wayne Walker was chosen for VP. Both have extensive experience in nonprofit work and business and have said they are honored to have received their new positions on the board. During the meeting, the board also proposed a four-committee structure to organize responsibilities, which includes Finance and Facilities, Student Achievement and Support, Policy, and District Partnerships and Community Engagement. Mayor Kenney certainly seems excited about the board's upcoming work, and said the meeting "established a strong foundation for the work ahead". All of the Board of Education's meetings will be open to the public as well as advertised on their webpage. And, they're looking for a student rep!

Good news came from a Blue Cross Blue Shield report on Thursday, wherein it was noted that BCBS members are being prescribed fewer opioids in lower dosages, effectively dropping opioid prescriptions in the Philadelphia region by 32% between 2012 and 2017. This is more than the national average, which saw a 29% drop within the same time period. However, nearly 242, 000 BCBS members were still diagnosed with opioid-use disorder in 2017 alone, with 7.9 diagnoses per 1,000 members in the Philadelphia area alone contributing to that. Hopefully, the number of prescriptions continues to drop in the coming months and years.

Evidently, the protesters that followed Vice President Pence during his visit to Philadelphia last month didn't scare him away, because the VP has booked another trip to the City of Brotherly Love to campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Lou Barletta. Casey will run again for a third term, reports say, but officials are speculating that President Trump will also eventually campaign for Barletta during the race. During Pence's last visit, he was met by protesters in Rittenhouse Square pushing back on the Trump Administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which has since been eradicated, and all eligible young children have been reunited, though some under 5 still remain separated because of safety concerns or other issues. Protests have already been organized for Pence's visit on July 23rd by groups like Refuse Fascism Philly, Philly UP, and the like.

That's your biggest news for this week, folks! Don't forget to follow us on twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 06/28/2018

Pence, Protests, and Council's Final Session

It's officially summer! Here's your weekly update on the news in Philadelphia:

We're starting off with some good news this week: three Philly area executives landed a spot on the 100-name list of Highest Rated CEOs from Glassdoor! Each year Glassdoor reveals the winners of its Employees' Choice Awards, which recognizes leading CEOs across North America and parts of Europe. Based on real input from employees who provide anonymous feedback, the site then ranks 100 winners to make the list. From 14th in 2017 to 6th this year are Power Home Remodeling co-CEOs Corey Schiller and Asher Raphael. SAP CEO Bill McDermott ranked 33rd on the list. Click here to read more about the reviews that landed them their spots!

If you've been following the news this week, you've likely heard about the immigration policy that is allowing minors to be separated from their parents. On Wednesday, Vice President Pence visited Philadelphia to attend a fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association - and was greeted with roughly 1,000 protesters in Rittenhouse Square. On the Facebook page for the event, coordinating groups called on people attending to bring pairs of children's shoes to be set down as a symbolic, silent protest against the separation of families. Neither the President nor Vice President has made any comments specifically about Philadelphia's protest on Wednesday.

After 17 long years of governing the Philadelphia School District, the School Reform Commission held its final public meeting last night. In the midst of cheers and songs and signs, the commission will hit the gavel for the final time on June 30th, and the Philadelphia School District will be handed over to the new Board of Education appointed by the Mayor. According to Philly.com, "all of the SRC members offered a valedictory, reflecting on their service and thanking Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., teachers, and students." And so the sun sets on the SRC after 6,019 days!

Kicking off a marathon of a stated meeting on Thursday, Councilman Curtis Jones presented a resolution honoring Smith Playground for 120 years of playtime! Councilman Green had a resolution recognizing Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and welcoming the 84th Grand Chapter Meeting to the City of Philadelphia in July 2019, and a resolution calling for Council to hold hearings regarding the threat of wasted plastics to the health, safety, and well-being of the City and residents of Philadelphia. Councilwoman Gym had a resolution authorizing the creation of a Youth Residential Placement Task Force, to make recommendations and provide guidance to safely reduce the number of Philadelphia youth in residential placements. After a very long meeting, Council closed out its final session of the summer and will return in September!

That's all the news for this week, folks. Enjoy your weekend, and don't forget to follow us on twitter @PhillyAdvocates for news updates!

 

Bellevue Bulletin 06/01/2018

Big Budgets and New Dispensaries

Happy First Day of June! Here's your weekly update:

The city has been working to find out where the money to support Philly's struggling school district will come from: so far, it's looking like Mayor Kenney's plan to raise property taxes and increasing the real estate transfer tax is the winning solution. However, Councilwoman Cindy Bass has come up with another idea. Instead of increasing property tax, over the next five years, Councilwoman Bass wants to make cuts to the city's budget, especially funding to the city's prison system. Bass says she will be introducing her alternative when Council returns next week.

Philadelphia's first medical marijuana dispensary is officially open in Fishtown. Restore Integrative Wellness opened at 11 AM on Wednesday, to a line of about 20 patients. Since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016, nearly two dozen other medical marijuana dispensaries have opened in surrounding area, but Restore is the first to open within the city. This means that patients will no longer have to drive outside of Philadelphia to receive treatment. Like other dispensaries, Restore sells a variety of different supplies including concentrates, capsules, and vape pens from five of the state's certified growers. Read more about Restore here.

There have been a number of lawsuits filed by state and local governments across the country against opioid manufacturers over the last few months. Bucks County officials have just announced that they too will be filing a lawsuit against three opioid distributors and 14 pharmaceutical companies. According to the news release from Bucks County officials, 232 people died of opioid overdoses in the county last year. Read more about the lawsuit here. 

Philadelphia City Council didn't have a stated meeting this week, but they did cut the ribbon at the newly renovated LOVE Park! Follow them on Twitter @PHLCouncil to see the photos!

And, follow us on twitter @phillyadvocates for constant news updates! Have a great weekend!

 

Bellevue Bulletin 05/25/2018

House Seats and Fortune 500

Happy holiday weekend, everyone! We hope this Memorial Day will be great - and sunny!

Some unfortunate news for college students kicks off our update this week: The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is being forced to dig into its reserves to keep money flowing into a grant program for PA that helps college students in the coming fiscal year. The PHEAA warns though, that this could mean little to no money for the grant the following year. The PHEAA manages hundreds of billions of dollars in federal and commercial student loans, and much of it is pumped into the grant program. The group plans to cut its $100 million dollar contribution in half, which would mean more than 150,000 students will potentially lose out on hundreds of dollars. It's not clear yet whether or not lawmakers will be able to make that money up.

In Harrisburg, PA State Representative Nick Miccarelli has had his seat in the state House chamber moved from seat 42, formerly only 10 seats away from Rep Toohil, to seat 111, all the way in the back of the chamber. He was also stripped of his committee assignments by House GOP leadership since the latest fallout of allegations of physical and sexual assault against him. It's been said that House GOP Leadership has called for Miccarelli to resign, but so far has not pushed to expel him from the state House.

On Thursday, a PA Judge halted the construction of Sunoco's two new pipeline projects, as well as the already existing Mariner East Pipeline 1, once again in Chester County's West Whiteland Township. The Judge, Elizabeth Barnes, also granted an emergency petition by state Senator Andy Dinniman. Dinniman has argued that the pipelines are a risk to public safety within the township and has been granted his emergency petition that has stopped construction and operation of the pipelines until the PUC determines they are safe to continue using. Mariner East II has dealt with legal, environmental, and construction issues since it first began in 2017, and was shut down in March as well. There has been no word from Sunoco about whether or not the pipeline will be completed on time.

Now for some good news: twelve Philadelphia-area companies have made the Fortune 500 list for 2018! Companies that have made the list include Toll Brothers, Chemours, Burlington Stores, UGI, Campbell's Soup, Crown Holdings, Universal Health Services, Lincoln National, DowDuPont, Aramark, Comcast, and AmerisourceBergen. To see the full list and all of the companies' rankings, click here.

In Council this week, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown introduced a resolution urging Congress to respond to the Supreme Court ruling in Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis by passing legislation that guarantees the right of workers to pursue class action lawsuits in federal court. Councilman Derek Green introduced a resolution recognizing and honoring Lynn Fields Harris on the occasion of her retirement as Executive Director of Center in the Park, for her decades of service to the city of Philly and it's older citizens. Councilman Domb introduced an ordinance amending Title 19 of the Philadelphia Code, under "Finance, Taxes, and Collections", by adding a new Chapter entitled "Monthly Reconciliation Reporting. And finally, Councilwoman Gym has a resolution calling for Philadelphia Council hearings to explore the potential geographic score of the 10-year tax abatement.

That's all for today folks! Have a great holiday weekend and don't forget to follow us @PhillyAdvocates for more updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 05/18/2018

Primaries and Political Games

Happy Friday everyone! Here's everything that's happened during this rainy week:

As we all know, the primaries have come and gone this past week and as it turns out, there has been an increase in voter turnout. At eighteen percent, the state is three points higher than the last midterm primary in 2014, but still about a point lower than the average for past elections. About 100,000 more Democrats than Republicans turned out on Tuesday, a difference of nearly 7 percent — although a higher percentage of registered Republican voters participated (22 percent versus 19 percent of registered Democrats). (Emily Previti, WITF) Read more about the stats here. And look here for a rundown of who won and who lost in the race.

Since Meek Mill's release, the prison system and its' flaws have finally been getting some attention. Meek Mill has been a huge advocate for prison reform since being released earlier this month and was slated to visit the White House today to take part in a panel about prison reform. However, the 31-year-old rapper backed out of the summit and explained his decision via a statement, saying he didn't want to the focus to be on himself and President Trump, and take away from creating a positive result from the discussions. The summit still happened, beginning at 10:45 AM at the White House and is rumored to have been attended by the President, Congress members, and activists. Read more here.

As always, where there's a campaign there tends to be a little bit of drama. And in the words of Holly Otterbein, Staff Writer for Philly.Com, "To be involved in politics in this town, you need an iron stomach." 27-year-old Malcolm Kenyatta ran for office for the first time this year and defeated four other Democratic candidates to capture his party’s nomination for the 181st District. But, Primary Day was not without issue - in the early morning, staff on Kenyatta's team found homophobic fliers posted outside his office, a picture of Kenyatta and his first husband taken from Facebook, with crude remarks written next to the photo. Kenyatta's response was this: “There are big issues to address: poverty, schools, and housing. People have no patience for the bigoted political games, and our resounding victory on Tuesday makes that clear.” Read the full story here.

In Council, Greenlee kicked off with a presentation on behalf of Council President Clarke honoring and recognizing Masterman Odyssey of the Mind for being named World Finalists in the Odyssey of the Mind International Competition! Way to go kids! Councilman Henon put forth a resolution recognizing May 20th to May 26th, 2018, as National Emergency Medical Services Week in Philadelphia. The resolution also honored Philadelphia's Paramedic of the Year, David Reynolds, and Philadelphia EMT of the Year, Emily Serrano.
And that's all the big news for this week folks! Make sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for regular updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 05/11/2018

Volkswagen and Clean Energy

Happy Friday! Here is your weekly update:

Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to criminal charges for selling cars that turned on emissions controls during testing but reduced them during normal driving. The International Council on Clean Transportation funded on-road testing and found that a VW put out as much as 35 times the allowable amount of toxic nitrogen oxide, which causes respiratory problems. The council alerted government regulators and now, VW is doling out billions in fines and settlements - and Pennsylvania found a way to capitalize on the situation. PA's governor said on Thursday that the state will use the $118 million dollar settlement with VW to set up a program called Driving PA Forward, which will distribute grants and rebates that aim to boost air quality in the state. The goal is to replace older diesel engines with new technologies and cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 27,700 tons.

Governor Wolf, in conjunction with the Legislative Black Caucus, rolled out a statewide grant plan to help reduce to threat of gun violence in Pennsylvania, totally $1.5 million. The grants, under the 2018 Gun Violence Reduction Initiative, are open to any and all municipalities in the state including townships, boroughs, and cities. The grant initiative, Wolf said, will help to support programs already underway.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is taking on a new project - $55 million has been allotted to an abandoned mine statewide cleanup initiative. The project will seek to treat polluted mine water, stabilize unsafe mines, and put out underground fires, treating the mines that were developed before modern environmental rules can to fruition in the 1970s. The money is coming from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands fund, a program part of the Department of Interior. It's being funded by a fee on current coal production. The money comes from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands fund, a Department of Interior program. It’s funded by a fee on current coal production.

In Philadelphia Council, Councilmember Squilla put forth a resolution renaming South 13th Street, between Walnut and Locust Streets, as "Edie Windsor Way". Council President Clarke joined in to introduce a resolution calling for a Philadelphia Historical Marker on the campus of Temple University, Edie Windsor's alma mater. For those of you that don't know, Edie Windsor is a Philadelphian who fought for LGBT rights and awareness! Councilman Oh introduced a resolution recognizing May 19th, 2018 as Armed Forces Day in the city of Philadelphia, as well as a resolution recognizing the U.S. Army for providing the safety and security of the nation since its creation in Philadelphia 243 years ago.

That's all your news for this week folks! Follow us @PhillyAdvocates and check in for regular updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 05/04/2018

Michelle Obama, a $1 settlement, and Soda Tax

Here's your update for the week:

If you didn't already know, former First Lady Michelle Obama was here just a few days ago to speak to 8,000 Philly students getting ready to head off to college at the end of this year, in celebration of National College Signing Day. Mrs. Obama was joined by a few other big names, including Philly-native Bradley Cooper, Zendaya, Nick Cannon emceed, Kelly Rowland, QHere'suestlove, Robert DeNiro, Rebel Wilson, Karlie Kloss, and Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins, and more. Congrats to all the students heading off to pursue higher education, a military career, or attending a trade school - Philadelphia is proud of you!

The Mariner East Pipeline II is facing more trouble from the Department of Environmental Protection, including a new fine for $355,622 for drilling mud spills during construction. This fine is on top of the $12.6 million Sunoco was already fined by the DEP in February for violations of the Clean Streams Law. Currently, the pipeline has more than 50 notices for violations during construction, but, the pipeline is still set to be finished on time.

To jump back a week or two: the two black men arrested at Starbucks have settled with a symbol $1, and have reached an agreement with both the city of Philadelphia and Starbucks. The city will be setting up at $20,000 program for young entrepreneurs, as Rashon Nelson and Dante Robinson, along with their attorney sat down to speak to ABC's Good Morning America after making the announcement. Both men say they hope something positive will come out of the unfortunate, uncomfortable situation, and hope the program with the city will help Philadelphia public high school students learn about not just entrepreneurship, but subjects like taxes and financial literacy. They said they wish to expand the program beyond Philly in the future. (Via Philly.com)

If you've been following along with us, you know that Philadelphians for Fair Future has been working closely with Bellevue on both the pre-k and Rebuild programs. The Pennsylvania House Commerce Committee has voted to advance the bill to repeal the soda tax, and would generally prohibit local governments from imposing new taxes on food and drinks. What's more, is that H.B. 2241 makes no provision for replacing the $80 million in annual Soda Tax Revenue. It's crunch time! Help us in pledging your support to the tax by calling your local legislator.

In Philadelphia Council this week, Councilman David Oh has a resolution recognizing and celebrating the 2018 Philippine Independence Week from June 2nd to June 16th. Councilman Taubenberger introduced a resolution recognizing the Girl Scouts' 106th birthday, and Councilman Domb brought forth a resolution proclaiming the week of May 6th through May 12th as Public Service Recognition Week in the City of Philadelphia. May 13th to May 20th will be celebrated as National Police Week in Philadelphia!

 

That's all for now folks! Be sure to follow us @PhillyAdvocates for regular updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 04/27/2018

Listening Tour, #MeekIsFree, and the Cosby Verdict

Happy Friday! Here's the verdict:

If you follow the news, you'll already know that Bill Cosby's retrial has finally come to a close and that the jury at a Montgomery County Courthouse has convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University basketball coach, Andrea Constand. Check out this interesting article related to Cosby and the #MeToo movement.

A few weeks ago we told you about Pennsylvania's plan to replace all voting machines in the state with more up-to-date models. Well, the prototypes are here, and election administrators and the public got a chance to check them out this past week at the state Farm Show complex this week. Most current voting machines are totally electronic - these new machines would leave a paper trail, making it easier to count votes. The federal government is contributing $13.5 million for the upgrades, but the new tech is expected to retail anywhere between $100 million and $150 million. Philadelphia has already asked for an extension on the next-year-end deadline.

The new Philadelphia school board made their first stop on their citywide listening tour and got oriented with a few (many) questions from the community. The new board has a large task ahead of them: just 33 percent of students in the district can read at grade level, and only 19 percent meet state standards in math. Among the community's requests were, "Add more art and music to schools. Better equip teachers to handle the challenges of children who live in deep poverty. Earn the public’s trust and improve community relations. Make sure kids have mentors, and job training, and access to robust after-school programs." Read the full story here.

A week after a situation erupted at a Philadelphia Starbucks, it has been announced that Meek Mill has been released from prison after being arrested for a controversial parole violation. After his release became public, his good friend and the 76ers co-owner, Michael Rubin, along with comedian Kevin Heart, picked Meek up in a helicopter and transported him to the Sixers' playoff game. He even got to ring the ceremonial bell before tip-off. As exciting as this is, new studies have shown that Pennsylvania’s parole rate is the highest in the nation – and it’s a problem that’s getting worse.

Philadelphia International Airport cut the ribbon this week on the newest USO Center in the Nation. "We project welcoming over 100,000 service members & their families annually at our center in Terminal E. We look forward to hosting the armed forces and their families who pass through our airport."

In Council, Councilman Domb lead a presentation celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the and marking the month of April as Fair Housing Month in the City of Philadelphia. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson lead a presentation recognizing the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for its' dedication to sisterhood and service, in celebration of the sorority's 110th Anniversary. . leads a presentation proclaiming the week of April 27, 2018, to May 5, 2018, as the 8th Annual honoring the broad and vibrant Philadelphia technology community. has a resolution honoring the heroism of Captain Tammie Jo Shults, who successfully executed an emergency landing of Flight 1380 at on April 17, 2018, saving the lives of 148 people.

That's it for this week! Be sure to follow us @PhillyAdvocates on Twitter and check back regularly for more updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 04/20/2018

Philadelphian's in TIME Magazine, and the Future of Bias Training

Happy Friday! Here's your weekly recap:

Statewide, after Sunoco Pipeline 1 shutdown almost a month ago, Sunoco came back with a report that lacked any significant evidence that the pipeline was doing any damage. But, state officials aren't too keen to get the pipeline up and running again. The pipeline was shut down in early March after a number of sinkholes opened in the surrounding area, and the state cited concerns about the geological condition of the land, due to Mariner East Pipeline II construction happening close by. As of right now, there's no timeline for the pipeline to reopen.

At a recent monthly meeting, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics endorsed legislation that would bring a raft of critical changes to the city’s campaign finance laws and limits. Instead of annual campaign finance limits, the bill would allow a system of limits based on a four-year election cycle - it would also allow the increase of allowable contributions to $5,000 for individuals, and up to $20,000 for business and other organizations. Read here for more info on what the bill package includes.

It's been an eventful week in Philadelphia after two men were arrested at Starbucks for alleged trespassing. If you've been following the story (how could you miss it?) you'll know that the media and the community have been all over it. Philadelphia's Police Commissioner Richard Ross has since released an apology to the two men for how the situation was handled. In addition, Starbucks is shutting down 8,000 of their shops next month for an afternoon of bias training. Read more about what the Commissioner Ross said here.

On a much lighter note: two Philadelphians have been honored on the prestigious Time Magazine's List of the World's 100 Most Influential People. Penn Medicine's Dr. Carl June, who had earlier made Philadelphia's list of influential people, was alongside Philly native Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck. Two truly remarkable men from our own City of Brotherly Love! Read more about what landed them their spots here.

In Council, Councilman David Oh introduced a resolution proclaiming the week of April 27th to May 5th as the 8th Annual Philly Tech Week and honoring the broad and vibrant technology community in Philadelphia. Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown introduced a resolution calling for Council to hold hearings on the effectiveness of implicit bias and racial equity training for employees in Philly. And as always, Council is recognizing April 22nd as Earth Day! Check out what's going on with Council any time of the day here on their twitter!

That's all for this week. Check back next week for a new update, and in the meantime, follow us @PhillyAdvocates for constant updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 04/13/2018

PA Tech, Cosby, and More Maps

Happy Friday the 13th! Here's your news for the week:

On Friday, Andrea Constand took the witness stand to testify again Bill Cosby in his retrial in Norristown, PA at the Montgomery County Courthouse. Constand is a former Temple University sports director and one of almost 60 women to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. The retrial scheduled for Friday is a continuation of the first trial, which ended in a hung jury last June. The case remains pretty up in the air, with both the defense and the prosecution set on undermining each other. Cosby continues to deny all allegations against him. Read the full story here.

Prior to the 2020 Presidential election, Pennsylvania has until December 31st, 2019 to find and implement new voting machines that will keep a paper trail, as per the Department of State's announcement. Congress' recently passed budget mandates $13.5 million in federal funding towards Pennsylvania's technological advances. Ideally, the new machines will be in place by November's 2019 general election.

In Harrisburg, the redistricting bill is being gutted and replaced yet again. After Rep. Steve Samuelson (D-Northampton) announced a discharge resolution to kick his redistricting bill out of the House State Government Committee, Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) and 14 other House Republicans voted to completely rewrite HB 722 via amendment. (City and State PA.)

In Philadelphia Council, Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown led a resolution honoring Iyana Vanzant's life and contributions to the field of spirituality. Councilwoman Sanchez led a presentation honoring Philadelphia Children's Alliance and Philadelphia's Department of Human Services for their commitment to bring healing and justice to victims of child sexual abuse and declaring April 2018 to be Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. Resolutions and bills introduced were as follows: Councilman Green calling for hearings regarding the use of THC screenings for people on probation or parole in Philadelphia and Councilman Domb calling for hearings regarding growing the city’s tax base by analyzing current housing trends, population growth and the city’s labor pool as well as the real estate market in order to explore policy solutions.

That's all for this week! Follow us @PhillyAdvocates on twitter for more news!

Bellevue Bulletin 04/06/2018

A Big Win for Villanova and Philadelphia Schools

The governor is back again spearheading efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Governor Wolf went back on Wednesday to his state disaster declaration, originally enacted in January and set to expire April 10th, and has extended it another three months. The Wolf administration, with the new extension, will be able to further continue their efforts on 13 different policies designed to combat the crisis.

Sunoco Pipeline announced on Thursday that is has offered a $10,000 reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of the vandals that attacked construction equipment along the route of Sunoco’s current pipeline project, Mariner East 2. The destruction happened in West Whiteland Township, Chester County on April 2nd and 3rd, and caused significant damage to pieces of equipment, according to the company. It’s no secret that the pipeline is a controversial subject in Pennsylvania, among citizens and environmental activists alike. The investigation is ongoing and the company continues to search for the vandals.

In Philadelphia news, Mayor Kenney announced on Wednesday his new 9-member board of education that will take over the $3.2 billion organization. Within the new board, the Mayor chose six women and three men, including two previous members of the SRC. Most of his choices were educators and Philadelphian’s with social services backgrounds. Named to the board were Julia Danzy, Leticia Egea-Hinton, Mallory Fix Lopez, Lee Huang, Maria McColgan, Christopher McKinley, Angela McIver, Wayne Walker, and Joyce Wilkerson.

In addition to celebrating Villanova’s win on Thursday, City Council of Philadelphia showed up blue for Autism Awareness Month!

This week in City Hall, Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown has a resolution celebrating WOAR Philadelphia and its 2018 Wear Teal Day to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Councilman Jones presented a resolution honoring Alicia Conquest, Karen Epps, Heather LaPera, Peter Matranga, and Rebecca Yacker for being awarded the 2018 Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Public Teachers.

That’s all for this week. Check back regularly and follow us on twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/31/2018

The Environment and a Verdict

Happy Friday everyone! Here's your update for the week:

In Harrisburg, an environmental group is criticizing the state of Pennsylvania for our many, many Clean Water Act violations. PA is among the states with the most waterways in the country, which gives pollutants even more room to work - and do damage. The group is pushing to hold companies responsible for sending pollutants into the state's waterways without a permit. More here!

In other environmental news; a North Philadelphia church caught fire early Thursday afternoon, causing delays on both the Broad Street Line and the Ridge Spur. Service has since resumed, but it did make a nightmare out of the usual rush-hour commute.

Two more School Reform Commission members have resigned their seats this past week, letting us know that Kenney's plan to take back local control of Philadelphia schools and form a new board is well underway. The commission will completely cease to exist on June 30th of this year, just in time for summer break. The new nine-member panel will be chosen and appointed by Mayor Kenney by April 5th, to manage Philadelphia School District's $3 million budget and almost 205,000 students.

In May of 2017, our very own Councilman David Oh was stabbed during an attempted robbery outside his home after parking his SUV. The stabbing resulted in a slashed rib and elbow. Upon being shown photos of various persons in the Police Department files, Councilman Oh was sure that Shawn Yarbray was his attacker. Once the police tracked Yarbray down, he was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery, and related counts. However, after spending 10 months in jail, the jury on Thursday proclaimed Yarbray "not guilty". Read more here.

In other news, Joe Biden is coming to the City of Brotherly Love this spring to be Temple University's annual celebrity speaker. The bad news: the event is only open to Temple students. But keep an eye out for the former Vice President around town!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more updates!

Bellevue Bulletin 03/23/2018

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.

Bellevue Bulletin 01/25/2019: Council’s First Session Sees Controversial Bills

Bellevue Bulletin 01/25/2019: Council’s First Session Sees Controversial Bills

Happy Friday! We’re nearing in the 35th day of the federal government shutdown, and the Senate’s attempt to reopen the government on February 8th has failed. President Trump has since announced that he will not give the annual State of the Union address until after the government opens, but for now, the stalemate continues. After the Senate’s ... Read More
 
Bellevue Bulletin 01/18/2019: The Low-Down on the Shutdown

Bellevue Bulletin 01/18/2019: The Low-Down on the Shutdown

Happy Friday! Here’s what’s happening in Philadelphia: We’re in week three of the federal government shutdown, one that has made history as the longest the country has ever seen, and it’s affecting Americans all over the country, especially those in our home city of Philadelphia. Across the United States, airports have been significantly impacted by ... Read More