Thursday, May 26, 2005

Credit Where It Is Due

1)To John Street and advocates like Sister Mary Scullion, because (with a hat tip to Philly Future) apparently, Philadelphia is a model city for dealing with homelessness. From the article, which is quite extensive:
After years of turmoil and political infighting, Philadelphia began a grand experiment by creating a new paradigm for dealing with homelessness that has become the envy of cities across the country.

Those cities include Denver, where officials are looking to the City of Brotherly Love as a model for how to end homelessness.

Philadelphia's success didn't come quickly or easily. Things started to change after what one official calls a "Philadelphia ruckus" in 1997 over a proposal to make it illegal to sleep on the street. A Catholic nun and her allies took on much of the city's political establishment in a series of angry confrontations at City Council meetings.

When the dust settled, a compromise emerged. Downtown business interests that were alarmed over the hundreds of people camped out on sidewalks struck a bargain with advocates for the homeless. In return for a law that allowed police to ticket people hanging out downtown, the city committed millions to build housing and launch treatment programs for mental illness and addiction.

Since the passage of that 1998 law, Philadelphia has added hundreds of beds in small shelters, transitional housing and apartment buildings throughout the city. Not only are the homeless offered a place to stay, they're assigned a case manager who gets them into programs intended to keep them off the street.

2) To Michael Nutter, who is on the verge of passing two pieces of legislation that I am really glad to see: A smoking ban, and his small ethics package. Certainly victories it did not look like he was going to have. The ethics bill is, however, one small step towards better government. Check out the article, which has this wonderful quote from Jannie Blackwell, one of the members of Council who was against even this basic bill:
"I think it's better for all concerned to take our time," said Blackwell, who earlier this year coined a phrase when she said Council was all "ethic-ed out."

3)To Wilson Goode, who successfully raised the minimum wage for City Workers, and those that do business with, or receive aid from, the City:
The bill, sponsored by Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr., requires those employers to pay staffers at least 150 percent of the federal or state minimum wage - whichever is higher. For workers now making the current minimum of $5.15 an hour, that would translate to $7.73. It would go into effect immediately for city workers and for new contracts. As existing contracts are renewed, they would be subject to provisions of the bill.

The bill covers for-profit firms that receive city contracts worth $10,000 or more in a 12-month period and that have annual gross receipts of more than $1 million; nonprofit firms that receive city contracts worth more than $100,000 in a 12-month period; all city agencies, departments and offices; and businesses employing more than 25 people that have city leases, concessions or franchises.

The bill does not cover all workers in Philadelphia because Council does not have the authority to raise the minimum wage across the board in the city, officials said.
Small Steps? Sure. But again, credit where it is due.

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