Silence is Acquiescence. Take Action. 

Act Now
As the Senate hearings and congressional retreats continue, we encourage you to take specific calls to action on certain presidential nominations including: Jeff Sessions nomination; Betsy DeVos nomination; Scott Pruitt nomination; Tom Price nomination. We also encourage you to contact your elected officials regarding a potential Affordable Care Act repeal. Only together, taking action, can we change the minds of our legislators.

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Welcome New Legal Director!

We are excited to welcome Mimi McKenzie to our staff as the new legal director! Mimi was previously a Lecturer in Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she taught Legal Writing, and she was an independent consultant primarily for clients of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP conducting interactive workplace training on employment law, human resource, and diversity issues. She began her law career as a litigation associate at Dechert LLP. Help us welcome Mimi by liking her post on our Facebook page.

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Good News for Community Gardens in 2017

Community Garden
Thanks to the work of our Garden Justice Legal Initiative and our clients and partners, the new year brings some welcome news for Philadelphia's gardening community: as of January 2017, 
qualifying community gardens and market farms can apply  for discounted monthly stormwater fees.  Working with local gardening organizations, City Council and Mayor Kenney, the Philadelphia Water, Sewer and Storm Water Rate Board  held hearings  on the proposed discount throughout the fall of 2016 before officially approving a 100% discount on December 22, 2016. Learn more about stormwater rates for residential and commercial customers on the PWD Stormwater Management page. You can also read about how green tools created during the first five years of Green City, Clean Waters are already helping to reduce pollution from runoff and sewer overflows by an estimated 1.5 billion gallons annually.

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Pa. Schools Need More Revenue, not Cost Myths

Staff attorney Michael Churchill had an op-ed published in the York Daily Record debunking the myth that the solution to an unfair school property tax system is to control education spending. In addition, the op-ed refers to our updated report on how much it would cost to adequately fund Pennsylvania's public schools based on the state's new formula (currently $4.1 billion). He wrote, "It is time for legislators to deal with what our students and state need and find a fair way to raise the revenues instead of perpetuating myths that all it takes is controlling costs and ending all property taxes."

Our Role in Philly's Fair Housing Plan

Fair Housing
In late 2016, Philadelphia became one of the first cities to implement the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulation, a new Rule authorized by the landmark Fair Housing Act of 1968. We played a role in strengthening the plan submitted by the City: Prior to the release of the draft plan, staff attorney Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg  composed a letter in October to the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), alerting officials to our concern that the plan would focus only on private actors, rather than disparities emanating from the City itself. After a draft plan was released, Dan regularly met with fair housing advocates and City officials, to advocate for goals to address our concern, and to request the addition of concrete, measurable goals that will demonstrate whether the City is living up to its responsibility to lessen discrimination. As noted  in an article at PlanPhillythe work of Dan and his fellow advocates paid off, with a final product that, "while not perfect, is a really strong statement of principles and values by the city."

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Board Member of the Month: Carlos Montoya

Carlos Montoya
Carlos Montoya, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel for the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils sports organizations, as well as the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, is our board member of the month. About joining the Law Center board, he said, "I became involved with the Law Center because its work is important, its impact is powerful, and the commitment of its talented staff is downright inspiring. Whether the Law Center is addressing national issues (such as improving access to healthcare) or local issues (such as assisting Philadelphia's urban farmers improve their communities), the staff's dedication is unwavering. In addition, serving on the board has provided such a great opportunity to work with a wonderful group of Philadelphia lawyers and professionals who dedicate their time and energy to serving the public interest through their work on the board."
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Pro Bono Spotlight: Michael Falk and Joshua Peles
Michael Falk and Joshua Peles

Over the last year, Reed Smith LLP attorneys Michael Falk and Joshua Peles contributed significantly to our supporting The Village of the Arts and Humanities. The Village, which started as a simple park building project in 1986, has evolved into an organization that teaches art, music and dance to its neighborhood residents; converts vacant lots into murals and mosaics; grows and cultivates gardens to help expand Philadelphia's parks and green spaces; and helps neighborhood men and women struggling to overcome dependency on drugs. The Reed Smith team has assisted, and continues to assist, The Village with various legal issues, including land acquisition, clearing title and removing liens on Village-controlled properties. Read more about Michael and Joshua on our website, and congratulate them by liking their post on our Facebook page

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