Broad Street Brief: “Prison Gerrymandering” Addressed in New Council Bill
May 26, 2022
May 26, 2022
Council President Darrell Clarke and Mayor Jim Kenney presented a new bill to address “prison gerrymandering” — when incarcerated people are counted in their prison’s district for the purposes of legislative districting. The Clarke and Kenney proposal would reapportion the inmates into their last address, with each district netting between 500 and 1,000 residents. In this plan, district lines do not need to be redrawn. If the proposal passes council, it will go to voters for final approval in 2023.
Chellie Cameron, the CEO of Philadelphia International and Northeast Airports, will become the new president and CEO of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce at the end of June. In her role at the airports, Cameron helped set record passenger numbers in 2019, led the airports’ recovery from the pandemic, and developed significant expansion plans. Cameron will take over leadership of the chamber from former State Senator Rob Wonderling, and her role as the airports’ CEO will be filled temporarily by the current COO while a search is conducted.
Councilmember Kendra Brooks is pushing the city to buy back about 2,000 empty parcels of land — for $10 million from the city budget — turning them into community gardens. The plots, part of a 1997 initiative to raise funds for the school district, are to be put up for sheriff sale by the fall of 2023 by the bank that owns them. Advocates say the plots can be turned into community gardens in the short term and later developed into affordable housing.
The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is launching a new “Inclusive Growth Dashboard,” designed to measure the city’s economic recovery, its effect on Philadelphians, and how growth compares to peer cities. The dashboard (which will be regularly updated) can be found here.
Council will soon vote on a plan to convert all of the city’s 140,000+ streetlights to LEDs and link them to a new online management platform. The total proposal is worth about $90 million and will take approximately three years to complete. Streetlights would last longer, be more energy efficient, and easier to maintain.
City Council passed unanimously a bill that would require city inspectors to check for asbestos yearly, in addition to already mandated district inspections. The bill, drafted by Councilmember Derek Green, also creates an advisory board of students, parents, and union representatives. It was opposed by the school district but supported by Mayor Kenney.
Work began last week on a massive renovation of FDR Park in South Philadelphia, which includes an overhaul of the park’s welcome center as well as significant changes to the green space in the park. Changes will also include repairs to flood management systems and reclamation of natural space near the airport. The full renovation could take up to a decade to complete.
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