Broad Street Brief: New Commissioners Board Chair Appointed

January 11, 2024

City Hall

Mayor Parker Plans to Address Kensington Open-Air Drug Market, Improve Philadelphia’s Education System

Mayor Cherelle Parker has long emphasized her goal of permanently ending the open-air drug market in Kensington, an ambitious undertaking that her predecessors have been unable to achieve. She has appointed deputy commissioner Pedro Rosario, the first Latino to hold the prestigious position, to head the Philadelphia Police Department’s strategy in Kensington. The Philadelphia Inquirer delves into more detail about the intergovernmental cooperation and funding that would be required for her to succeed. Mayor Parker also spoke with WHYY in October 2023 about her commitment to improving the city’s education system by addressing the aging infrastructure of the public school system, implementing year-round schools, and forging innovative partnerships to provide comprehensive support and services to students.

Before Leaving Office, Former Mayor Kenney “Pocket Vetoed” Several Bills

Before leaving office, former Mayor Jim Kenney effectively killed four bills — including one proposing a 15-cent fee for single-use paper bags and another adding protections for subcontracted building services workers — through a “pocket veto,” or a refusal to sign the legislation into law. It is possible all four bills may still become law, as their authors were all re-elected in November and the measures passed with overwhelming majorities.

City Commissioner Sabir New Chair of Elections Oversight Board

City Commissioner Omar Sabir was appointed chair of the three-member elections oversight body on Wednesday, replacing Commissioner Lisa Deeley. Commissioners Sabir and Seth Bluestein also voted for rule changes including the decentralization of power and the ability for each commissioner to hire staff and set salaries.

Around Town

PAFA to Eliminate Degree Programs

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) announced Wednesday that it would be closing its degree-granting programs at the end of the 2024-25 school year due to a shrinking student body and a $3 million annual deficit. PAFA, the oldest museum and art school in the United States, will continue classes in continuing education, K-12 arts programs, and restore its comprehensive certificate program.

Among Cities With Sweetened Beverage Taxes, Philadelphia Saw Biggest Change in Consumer Behavior

A study published in the health policy journal JAMA Health Forum found that Philadelphia had the largest decrease in sweetened beverage sales among five U.S. cities that implemented soda taxes between 2012 and 2020, with a 46.8% decline in sales and a 58.3% price increase. The tax was a major cornerstone of former Mayor Kenney’s plan to fund pre-K and rehabilitate recreation centers. Mayor Parker has not confirmed whether or not proceeds will continue to be allocated toward the same programs.

Experiential Retail Thriving in Center City

Though some retailers in Philadelphia are closing their doors, industry experts note that retail occupancy in Center City is only 5% lower than in 2019 as of September 2023, and experiential retail, such as restaurants and activity-based establishments, is thriving.

PHL Ranked One of World’s Most Punctual Airports

The Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) ranks among the top 10 most punctual airports globally in 2023, with over 75% of flights departing on time. In related news, The Inquirer has compiled a list of tips for maximizing time at PHL from frequent travelers.

Parkway Central Library to Resume Saturday Operations

For the first time in three years, Parkway Central Library in Center City will resume Saturday operations, marking the latest city library to reintroduce weekend services amid the post-pandemic recovery. Twelve other branches resumed Saturday operations earlier this month.

Navy Yard Section of Broad Street Reopens

The section of South Broad Street that serves as the main thoroughfare for the Navy Yard has reopened after 18 months of construction as part of a $22 million project aimed at adding 8.9 million square feet of residential, retail, science, and multi-use development to the Navy Yard.

Following Public Outcry, National Park Service Announces Welcome Park William Penn Statue Will Stay Put

The National Park Service has withdrawn a proposal to permanently remove a statue of William Penn in Welcome Park following public outcry. The story went viral among right-leaning political commentators on X, with public figures ranging from Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro to Elon Musk weighing in.

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