KENNEY URGES MAYOR TO EASE UP ON POT
Councilman at Large James F. Kenney delivered a letter to Mayor Michael Nutter urging him to swiftly sign and implement City Council Bill 140377, which creates a civil penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana, defined as 30 grams or less.
“Just this week, it was reported that another 264 citizens have been arrested since this Bill overwhelming passed City Council on Jun. 19, 2014. Every day Mayor Nutter fails to act, more young people will be handcuffed and jailed for a minimal offense — something that doesn’t happen anywhere else in Pennsylvania,” Kenney said. He added, “If implemented by the Mayor, the procedures outlined in Bill 140377 will allow thousands of police hours to be better spent on preventing violent crime, and it will save thousands of people a year from interacting with the criminal justice system for nonviolent incidents.”
In his letter, the Councilman noted that with the partial arrest data available for 2014, Philadelphia Police are on pace to arrest nearly 4,000 people for simple marijuana possession. This number coincides with historical averages, with over 80% of those arrested being African-American. “The disparity present here is totally unconscionable,” Kenney said.
Just this month the White House Office of Drug Control Policy issued a new National Drug Control Strategy which stresses alternatives to arrests and incarceration. “I agree with the Obama Administration’s new strategy that ‘rejects the notion that we can arrest and incarcerate our way out of the nation’s drug problem,’” Kenney said.
SEN. SHIRLEY KITCHEN CLOSES AN OFFICE
Due to redistricting, State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-N. Phila.) has had to close her satellite office.
The Senator said her office at 6418 Rising Sun Avenue had to close after the redrawing of legislative boundaries took that neighborhood out of her 3rd Senatorial Dist.
“It is disappointing to lose constituents who have supported my work and helped to make Philadelphia a better place to live,” Sen. Kitchen said. “Residents of that section of the city can work with their new State Senator, Christine M. Tartaglione, or they can contact my office and we will work to make sure they are pointed in the right direction.”
Kitchen’s district office at 1701 W. Lehigh Avenue, Suite 104, continues to serve constituents in the district.
DeLISSIO HONORS AREA STUDENTS
State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio (D-Northwest) honored 12 local students for the 2013/14 school year.
DeLissio’s Peer to Peer and Unsung Hero awards are awarded annually to students who are nominated by their teachers, counselors and other school staff members.
The Peer to Peer Award is in recognition of a student who, through an established program or on his or her own, helps another student through friendship or through other assistance such as tutoring or informal or formal mentoring. The Unsung Hero Award is in recognition of a student whose good deeds and actions have made a difference in his or her school or community environment.
“We live in a world where much attention goes to those who excel academically and/or athletically. I believe we equally need to acknowledge those who display kindness, fairness, generosity, or acts of civic or community engagement, for it is these qualities that instill true leadership,” said DeLissio.
Awarded were Saul HS’s Robert Tinney (Peer to Peer) and Shkelqim Saiti (Unsung Hero); Shawmont School’s Olivia Cooper (Peer to Peer) and Andrew Dormer (Peer to Peer: AMY Northwest MS’s Mercedes Crawford (Peer to Peer) and Steven Mc Glade (Unsung Hero); James Dobson School’s Tiffani Loughery (Peer to Peer) and Mercedes Blades (Unsung Hero); Green Woods Charter’s Jessica Craighead (Peer to Peer) and Makyle Wyche (Unsung Hero); and Cook-Wissahickon School’s Gabrielle Edwards (Peer to Peer) and Shane Coyle (Unsung Hero).
GRATERFORD’S F.A.C.T. UNITES FATHERS, CHILDREN
Earlier this month, State Rep. Ronald G. Waters (D-W. Phila.) joined with the external team of the parenting program Fathers & Children Together at SCI Graterford for the fifth session of a program that allows children to bond with their incarcerated fathers.
Children participating in the FACT program will travel to SCI Graterford once a week until the end of August to spend quality time with their fathers. Children will be accompanied by their mother, grandmother or legal guardian while traveling to SCI Graterford. However, while the children are spending time with their fathers, the accompanying adults will be transported to a restaurant for dinner. During the meal, they will have the opportunity to relax, to discuss any concerns or issues they might have, and to learn about available resources.
Before their first excursion, children and their accompanying adults attended an orientation. FACT alumni discussed their experience with the program and answered questions. Waters spoke to the group about the positive impact a father’s presence can have on a child’s intellectual and emotional development.
The FACT program’s external team consists of Florence “Penny” McDonald, Regina Russell, Wesley Wilson Bey, Robyn Buseman, Dr. Minnie Moore-Johnson, Herbert McDuffy, Municipal Judge Jimmy DeLeon, Betty Lee, Michael Little, Dr. Lloyd Reid, Diane Sears, Tyrone “Cakes” Sims, Dr. Joi Spraggins, Samuel Staten, Jr., Bennie Swanns III, Dr. Jean Wright, Elaine Carter and Marci Brown.
In 2013, Waters introduced a resolution that would urge the Dept. of Corrections to consider establishing the FACT program at every state and county corrections institution in Pennsylvania. The proposal, HR 330, is awaiting consideration from the House Judiciary Committee.
For more information about the program, contact Waters’ district office at (215) 748-6712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRANKEL, STACK INTRO PATIENT TRUST ACT
State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) and State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) have introduced legislation to counter efforts to insert politics into the provider-patient relationship.
The “Patient Trust Act” would prohibit government entities from requiring providers to care for patients in a way that is not considered medically appropriate or forcing providers to tell patients anything that is not medically accurate.
The legislation is in response to laws that have passed in several states, including Pennsylvania, that force providers to practice medicine in a way that is not in line with basic medical standards.
“Patients trust that their doctor is telling them the truth, the whole truth, and that their health is the doctor’s primary concern. We should protect that trust,” Frankel said.
Stack insisted, “Injecting political ideology into medical decision-making is dangerous government overreach that must be stopped. It’s a sad indictment of our system that we need a law to prevent politicians from playing doctor, but we do.”
Five states require providers to give false information to patients about a link between abortion and breast cancer, although the American Cancer Society has found no such link. Meanwhile, a law passed in Florida would prevent pediatricians from asking about guns in the home, despite the fact the American Academy of Pediatrics considers it a best practice.
“We need to protect patients, and we also need to protect providers from criminal sanctions for doing the right thing,” Frankel said.
Shira Goodman, executive director of Ceasefire PA, commented, “As gun-violence prevention advocates, we know doctors and medical professionals are and should be sources of key information about how to keep our families safer.”
Stack’s bill is SB 1456.
WASHINGTON SAYS ACT ON GUN LEGISLATION
Citing a recent spike in summer gun violence, State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington (D-Northwest) urged Senate action on a key gun-safety measure.
Washington’s SB 189 would limit access to firearms by mentally ill persons who have been ordered to undergo involuntary mental-health treatment on an outpatient basis. The aim of this legislation is to limit harm to others as well as prevent an individual from causing serious bodily harm to themselves.
“While I support the rights of citizens to use firearms for recreational purposes, the fact remains that our laws make it too easy for certain people to buy guns,” Washington said. “We need to instead focus on helping those suffering from mental illness get the care they need to recover and work to keep our communities safer. SB 189 will go a long way to help accomplish this.”
Washington noted the American Psychological Association has recommended curbing gun purchases for those suffering from mental illness to improve public safety and community health.
“We have seen too many instances where guns get into the wrong hands and too many instances of the violence that result,” Washington concluded.
SB 189 awaits consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.