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City Council passes a bunch of bills at last meeting of 2014

New and old measures get plenty of talk time as the final session comes to a close.

Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke on last day of council before holiday break.
Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke on last day of council before holiday break.Read moreAlejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer

CITY COUNCIL finished off its final session of the year with grand overtures of jingle-bell ringing, flag waving, back slapping and a litany of bill passing before members broke for the holidays.

Several new measures were introduced as well, to be debated in the coming year.

The third time could be a charm for Councilman Bill Greenlee, who's pushing for paid sick leave for private companies. He introduced an ordinance yesterday that would require businesses with 10 or more workers to offer earned paid sick leave.

"We talk about people's health all the time and how people should stay home if they're sick, but approximately 200,000 people don't have paid sick leave, which means when they have to stay home they don't get paid, and we just don't think that's fair," said Greenlee.

He hopes to have the law finalized by February, although he may face an uphill battle: Mayor Nutter has vetoed this type of thing twice in the past.

Councilman Jim Kenney introduced a measure that would ban people from parking their cars on City Hall's north-, east- and south-side aprons. If approved, the bill would kick to the curb a lot of city bigs who park their cars on the apron throughout the workday, including Mayor Nutter.

Kenney says the architectural grandeur of City Hall is diminished by so many cars parked out front.

"There are plenty of spots in Center City, and we have a municipal garage under LOVE Park which is not even that much further away," he said.

"The point is, when you walk out there it looks terrible, it's dangerous. It's like a throughway sometimes out there," he said. "You feel like you have to wear a yellow traffic vest so you don't get run over by people pulling onto the sidewalk."

Among other big-ticket items passed in Council:

* Titan Outdoor got the green light to move ahead with ads on bus shelters, newsstands, kiosks and buses. It is estimated that the program will generate about $100 million for the city over 20 years.

* The Land Bank Strategic Plan was approved and its board of directors appointed. On that board, five are appointed by City Council, five by the mayor. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez called the strategic plan an "articulation of what the opportunities are for Philadelphia.

"The challenge for us as Council people and also for the city as a whole is: How do we ensure equitable development that has collective impact for the entire city? I think we can do that. I think the strategic plan is the first articulation of that."

* Councilman Dennis O'Brien achieved passage of his bill targeting "notario" fraud, a type of coercion used to exploit immigrant residents looking for legal help. The bill will establish new licensing requirements, standards, protections and penalties to better regulate immigration-assistance services throughout the city.

* Also yesterday, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a resolution calling for the city's minimum wage to be raised to $15.

Low-wage workers employed at Philadelphia International Airport and at city hotels who receive city financial assistance cheered Council's approval of two bills that would require their bosses to put in place "labor peace agreements." These are designed to improve work rules and conditions, help solve labor disputes and make it easier for workers to unionize.

"By not also requiring labor peace for the service industry [the Nutter] administration has created its own set of unfair consequences. It has established two different classes of workers: first class and coach," said the bill's sponsor, Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr.

Members of 32BJ SEIU, the state's largest service employees union, swarmed Goode after the meeting, praising his legislation.

Council gets back to work at the end of January.