Here's what your City Council members are doing over summer recess
City Council has adjourned their legislative season for a two-month summer recess, but that doesn’t (necessarily) mean Council members will be sipping Mai Tais and playing beach volleyball until they reconvene in September.
Council’s "recess" is legislative only. Over the coming weeks, they are all beholden to provide constituent services just as they are during the normal legislative year.
Here are some of the specifics.
Darrell Clarke, the City Council president and 5th district councilman, said he will spend this summer urging the General Assembly to approve Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget, which would bring $538 million in tax relief to Philadelphia and an additional $159 million for the School District of Philadelphia.
Clarke’s communications director Jane Roh added that the Council President will be working to establish School-Based Family Services Centers, which are “a more effective way to increase essential services, including health care, in schools than layoffs and privatization of the District’s workforce.”
Councilwoman Bass in the 8th District will be meeting with stakeholders to discuss her upcoming legislative plans for the Fall.
She’ll also be hosting “Oldies in the Park” every Wednesday, an event that brings together district constituents for live music and civic engagement. Bass will also be throwing some additional summer events as well.
Up in the Northeast, 6th District Councilman Bobby Henon will be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the Mayfair Business Improvement District (BID), developing budgets for programs like the Storefront Improvement Program (SIP), and fundraising for Animal Care and Control Team (of which Henon is now a board member).
Henon’s biggest summer to-do, though, is the Philly Play program, which helps keep kids physically active. (Reminder: One-third of Philly’s K-6 population is overweight.) Henon’s office will help expand five new recreation centers across the city, and they’ll be staffing and training in these facilities throughout the summer.
Henon also has some key legislation pending like the “prison bill,” which Council will be reassessing and voting on in the Fall.
4th District Councilman Curtis Jones will be preparing the 8th annual "Block Captain Boot Camp" and 4th District Festival scheduled for August 15th at Beeber Middle School in Wynnefield.
On the legislative end, Jones is working on a bill to mandate surveillance cameras outside all bars and restaurants. The bill was introduced earlier this year. Jones says he’ll be working continuously with all stakeholders to bring it to final passage. His office is also working on another bill that would require all exterminators use non lethal methods when exterminating honeybees. (Note: honeybees play a huge role in agriculture, and their numbers have been dwindling across the country in recent years.)
Recently renominated 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has a plan in the works with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority that will transform 25 to 30 vacant city-owned lots into workforce housing.
Johnson’s office will also be generating community support for two large developments in the 2nd District — the new stadium-area casino and Bart Blatstein's large development project at Broad Street and Washington Avenue. (On the development end, there are a number of other zoning concerns along Washington Ave. that Johnson will be addressing as well.)
9th District Councilwoman Marian Tasco said she’ll be focusing mainly improving the business districts, in addition to constituent services.
Councilman Mark Squilla will be working on amendments to the plastic bag legislation he introduced. Other Council members have expressed concern over the bill's current form, and Squilla plans to mitigate these concerns over the coming months. He will look into new sources of revenue for the City, ways to improve the collection of delinquent taxes, and hit the Jersey shore on the weekends if weather permits.
In the 7th District, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez is trying to get more properties turned over to the Land Bank, improving business corridors from Kensington to Frankford. She also has to plan extensively for the annual and lively Puerto Rican Pride Day.
For councilmembers at-large, who do not oversee specific districts, summer schedules are nonetheless full. Councilman At-Large Bill Greenlee says he has a lot of catch-up to do on meetings that he had to put off during the budget wrap-up. The office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown runs numerous programs throughout the summer, including a brown bag lunch meetup for women leaders, and a “knit-in” where volunteers make hand-made garments for a homeless clothing drive.
Reynolds Brown also has some significant legislation to work on before the Fall — including a bill to implement a mandatory workforce diversity report.
Many City Council offices also use the summer to host staff retreats, where their teams can analyze legislation and constituent data from the past year in order to pinpoint areas of potential improvement.
Some Council members were hesitant to provide a detailed summer plan. Things change. So as a caveat, don’t consider these hard-line promises from your local government, but rather as hopeful guidelines.
Not all City Council members responded to our request for their summer itineraries.