A controversial City Council bill to regulate music venues in Philadelphia has reached its coda.
Councilman Mark Squilla, who has been under siege for a week by the local music community and First Amendment advocates, says he is withdrawing his proposed legislation and starting over.
Thus - Squilla hopes - ends the backlash from a bill that would have required music venue operators to compile and make available to police the names and addresses of all performers. The Police Department would have also had final approval for special assembly occupancy licenses necessary for shows attended by more than 50 people.
Squilla said the intent was to make sure all venues in the city paid $100 per year for the special licenses even if they were using an iPhone or other personal device to play music for customers.
The bill started under Mayor Michael Nutter's administration last year, continued when Mayor Kenney took office last month, and had language added along the way that recently sparked concerns, said Squilla, who had planned to amend the legislation but decided it was too tainted by controversy to rework.
"There's been so much confusion and misinformation about the bill that, even if we struck that out, some people would show up to oppose it not understanding what they were opposing," Squilla said Monday after meeting with 15 people from the local music industry and agreeing to consult with them when he draws up a new music bill.
Dyana Williams, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, praised Squilla for killing the bill.
"We're one of the top music cities in the United States, and what this did was put a negative spin on the city, which isn't accurate," Williams said. "He was very sensitive and mindful. I believe he heard the outcries of the music community."
David J. Spangenberg, who calls himself a "music-business lifer" known as "Professor Pooch," said Squilla was trying to regulate "fly-by-night venues" but allowed the bill to grow unwieldy.
"It's a shame that it takes something negative to get all the people together," he said. "It just had to be squashed. There was no way around it."