A handful of skaters have pulled off what could be a legislative first in the history of Philadelphia.

A few eloquent members of that tribe, using the public comment period at Thursday's City Council meeting, persuaded the members to table a bill that would have increased penalties on skaters who deface public art.

The bill was put forward by the Nutter administration after skaters and bikers scuffed up the "glob" of paint that is part of the Claes Oldenburg sculpture Paint Torch outside the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

PAFA spent more than $10,000 to repair and orient the glob in a way less appealing to someone looking to perform a trick.

Skateboarders at the Council meeting said the punishments in the bill were too severe and the terminology ill-defined.

Robert Williams, 28, a skateboarder, dissected the bill, reading off sections and subsections as Council staffers nodded in agreement with his reasoning.

"You've also used the word artwork . . . but choose never to define what that encompasses," he said.

Councilman Bill Green said some "excellent points were made about the lack of clarity" in the bill, and suggested tabling it.

The public comment period at Council meetings has become a loathed feature, sometimes adding hours to meetings with a grab bag of relevant and less-coherent speeches.

Thursday's events, however, inspired Councilman James F. Kenney to observe, wryly, "This might be the first time in the history of comment period where something got accomplished."

Contact Troy Graham
at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.