Venue to become Georgie Woods Entertainment Center in 2015
City Council on Thursday, March 15 voted to rename the Robin Hood Dell East. Effective in January 2015, the venue in North Philadelphia will be known as the Georgie Woods Entertainment Center.
Council unanimously supported the name change, which came over the objection of one man, Joey Temple, who urged Council to rewrite the bill renaming the entertainment venue so the name change would take place immediately.
“Why wait until 2015?” Temple asked Council during the public comment portion of the meeting. “I think Georgie Woods’ name should go up immediately.”
Temple, an ex-gang member, credited Woods with turning his life around and said Woods didn’t get the public recognition he deserved.
“Not a lot was done in his favor,” said Temple.
The bill’s sponsor, Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr., explained that city custom mandates a 10-year waiting period between the death of a notable Philadelphian and the naming of a public facility after him or her. Woods died in 2005.
“He would have been proud of the renaming of the Dell,” said Jones.
Jones also introduced legislation that would make the Police Advisory Commission permanent and expand its authority through a change to the city charter. He also called for an investigation into the commission, which has a backlog of 400 complaints.
“Maybe it needs a referendum for greater independence, or maybe the current structure needs to be tweaked,” Jones told the Tribune earlier this week. “Either way, people need to have confidence that their complaints will be heard — and if they’re legitimate, that some fair action will be taken. Police officers should also be confident that false allegations will be dealt with swiftly too.”
The proposal was referred to committee.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell took Mayor Michael Nutter to task for a ban on feeding the homeless outdoors in city parks.
“What if Jesus were around at this time, trying to spread some fishes and some loaves of bread? I guess he’d be in trouble,” Blackwell fumed. “It amazes me that we have to give, but the giving that one makes out of one’s own reserves is being regulated.”
Blackwell, well known for her advocacy for the homeless, chastised the mayor in a blistering seven-minute speech before council. She condemned the ban and related policies that would fine violators up to $150 after two warnings.
“It is unconscionable that we have decided that we’re not allowed to feed the hungry,” she said.
Nutter, citing health and safety concerns, announced on Wednesday that he had instructed parks commissioner to begin enforcing a ban on feeding the homeless in public parks within the next 30 days, as part of a new administration policy.
He pitched the policy as one centered on public health and safety concerns, and as way to assist people needing food and shelter.
“Aside from the dignity provided by sitting down at a given time in a given place for a nutritious meal, an indoor location enables the city and its partners to offer health, mental health, housing, a place to receive mail and other needed services to this very vulnerable population,” he said.
The mayor added that until the many groups that feed the homeless outside and those that have indoor facilities can coordinate their activities, the outdoor groups can feed people on the apron at City Hall.
They “will be required to sign up with the Department of Public Property and reserve the days and times for their activity,” said Nutter. “Those who wish to provide safe food will be welcome to do so, and we will try to coordinate their feeding to assure a more balanced, predictable schedule for the hungry.”
Finally, as council begins to dig into Nutter’s budget proposal, members voiced their opinions of the administration’s plan to change the way property values are assessed, switching the basis of taxes to full market value.
The administration plans to enact full valuation assessment later this year. Councilman Bill Green has urged the administration to delay a year to implement its plan in the name of bolstering confidence in city government.
However, the administration’s plan seems to have growing support among council members as they study revenue options. Full valuation would net about $90 million more dollars in revenue for the school district. The city would not receive any more than it does now, approximately $458 million.
“The administration is conflating two issues,” Green said this week. The “move to full value, which is required under state law, and revenue. They are separate and distinct issues. As we move to [full valuation] we should have that debate and make sure we have as much information as possible. As we talk about additional revenue … we should have a discussion about whether or not it is needed.”
Though the mayor’s budget does not include a formal tax increase, the city expects to collect about 8 percent more in property taxes next year as it moves to a tax system based on market values.
Administration officials are loathe to call that added revenue a tax hike.
“That would be a tax increase,” Green said.
The room was filled to overflowing with members of the community, friends and loved ones of the late Fatimah Ali, attending a fund raiser/tribute held in honor of the veteran broadcaster and journalist.
The fund raiser/tribute was held at Natalie’s Lounge, 40th and Market streets in West Philadelphia, and the place was packed with those whose lives were touched by Ali, some of whom have never met her personally but were moved by her work.
Those attending the event were treated to live music, poetry and had an opportunity to hear testimony of how Ali touched their lives.
“Today we are doing our own tribute to Fatimah Ali,” said Jonathan Bey, co-host of “Jazz and Conversation” on WURD 900AM. “I’ve known her for a long time but didn’t really get to know her until the last year of her life working at WURD.”
Bey, who hosts the weekly broadcast with Aqueela Jamal, said he was a regular listener of Ali’s show.
“I guess you could say that she was just one of those people who are ahead of her time; she just touched every facet of the community,” he said.
Also present were two of Ali’s children, Malik and daughter Khadeejah Ahmaddiya, both of whom shared their experiences growing up as her children.
Khadeejah, a professional dancer, was moved to tears when she recalled how her mother would encourage her to submit her poetry to publishers but Khadeejah had other plans.
During the tribute she read her poem “Shadows” in honor of her mother. This was the first time she ever publicly recited one of her own poems.
“Just to know that people still want to honor my mom just speaks volumes about what she really meant to the community,” Khadeejah said. “Of course she meant the world to us to everyone else it’s an honor and keeps my heart smiling.”
Malik said his mother put great emphasis on friends, family and community and that the outpouring of support evidenced by the numbers of those attending the event, was an example of just those things.
“Most of these people in here never met her but they respect her message and what she was about. It shows that her life and what she stood for met something,” he said.
Radio producer and community activist Joey Temple is believed to be the last person to spend time with Ali before her death and it was he who informed his colleagues about her passing.
“Whenever I go on the air, I will make sure that ‘Silver Rain’ [theme song for Ali’s radio show] and her voice will be heard,” Temple said.
He noted the event was organized by Jamal and Bey in order to help provide financial support to Ali’s children.
“More than anything, Fatimah spoke about her children; more than [she spoke about] community, more than problems of education, more important to her was to see her children grow. I think that’s the importance of this event,” Temple said.
Temple commissioned a portrait of Ali painted by a member of his family — prominently displayed at the tribute.