Bellevue Bulletin (02/21/2020)
By Kristina D’Amico
Welcome back to another Bellevue Bulletin! A lot happened this week, so we’re here to break it down for you. It’s no secret that asbestos is a huge issue in schools here in Philadelphia, and several buildings have been temporarily shut down in response to the exposed toxic material. In his budget proposal last month, Governor Tom Wolf proposed aking $1 billion available to schools across the state to address the issues of asbestos and lead. So far, ten schools in Philadelphia have been affected and while some have reopened, some haven’t. Here’s a list by Billy Penn that details the issues each school faces, and the status of the project.
New councilmember Kendra Brooks is fighting housing injustice in a big way. Councilmember Brooks joined protesters from One PA on Thursday, where they rallied at City Hall to demand protections for renters and homeowners as gentrification forces make housing increasingly unaffordable. One PA put forward two proposals for discussion in City Council: universal rent control and protection for homeowners who have fallen behind on their property-tax payments due to sudden tax increases. In their report, One PA highlighted the inequities faced by renters and homeowners in Philly, including poorly maintained properties and issues with predatory landlords. For longtime homeowners in redeveloping neighborhoods, the group said, rising property value can also bring up taxes by thousands of dollars in just a few years. Read more about what the Working Families Party and Councilmember Brooks are doing to address the issue.
As the final court ruling that would allow Safehouse (the nation’s first supervised injection site) gets closer, Philadelphia issued a public safety plan to illustrate to both residents and those who will use the site how it will work. The city has added a page to its website illustrating what kind of support it will give one or more overdose prevention sites and reiterates that the Philadelphia Police Department will work to prevent drug sales in the immediate vicinity of Safehouse’s site. This has received mixed reviews from the residents of the area. The final court ruling has no deadline yet.
Finally, in City Council this past week, Refinery news: Councilmember Kathy Gilmore Richardson (At Large), chair of Council’s Committee on the Environment, will hold hearings with the Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities, chaired by Councilmember Johnson, whose 2nd District includes the now-shuttered refinery. Councilmember David Oh introduced a resolution authorizing the creation of the Philadelphia Fashion and Garment Industry Task Force, and Councilmember Derek Green introduced a resolution recognizing and honoring Harold T. Epps on his departure as Director of Commerce (and his new position at Bellevue!) as well as his decades of service to the Philly business community.
That’s all for this week, but stay tuned for another PA Politics Podcast – we have exciting things coming up!