Philadelphia City Council began its fall business Thursday with a host of new proposals that ranged from scrutinizing how the city compensates for damage from water-main breaks to requiring many public bathrooms to give up "Men" and "Women" labels and become gender-neutral.
The restroom legislation, which would cover only single-occupant bathrooms and not those with multiple stalls, garnered praise from Mayor Nutter.
"This bill, which expands and strengthens gender-identity protections, is an important step in support of our LGBT community and reinforces Philadelphia's role as a leader on LGBT issues across the country," Nutter said in a statement.
As Council reconvened after its three-month summer break, still unresolved was whether the body would provide additional funding to the Philadelphia School District that it has promised but not yet delivered.
In June, Council passed a package of tax increases to raise $70 million for the district, but kept $25 million of that in its own budget. Council President Darrell L. Clarke said the goal was to prolong the conversation with school officials over the district's finances and governance.
Last week, Clarke said he expected Council to hold a hearing on transferring the money, but he was noncommittal when asked about the timeline. The only mention of the district Thursday came from Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who asked for hearings on the district and charter schools.
Blackwell called on Council to hold hearings on how homeowners affected by water-main breaks are aided and compensated, a response to a June 14 break that flooded 52d Street at Wyalusing Avenue in her West Philadelphia district. Blackwell said she was concerned with the limits on claim payments, and with the Water Department's response to the episode.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced legislation that would add $2 million to a program that aims to preserve affordable housing by providing repair and energy services to homes in poor condition.
Councilwoman Cindy Bass, citing concern about accidents, introduced a bill that would raise money for street-calming measures, such as speed bumps, through a $5 fee paid when a vehicle is registered with PennDot.