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Controversial Plan To Allow Advertising On Philadelphia Schools Put On Hold

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Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, in file photo. (credit: CBS)

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, in file photo. (credit: CBS)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council closed its 2013 legislative session with one key matter unresolved: whether to allow advertising on public school properties — to benefit the cash-starved district.

The proposal to allow ads on school properties had sailed out of committee earlier this month, and it was up for final passage this past week, on Council’s final meeting of 2013. But the sponsor, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, decided to delay that final vote because of feedback she’d received since the committee hearing.

“First of all, we read our emails, and we pay attention to folk on Facebook,” Reynolds Brown said. “And a number of legitimate considerations have come to my attention.”

Reynolds Brown did not elaborate on those concerns, but she did say time is needed to make sure the bill conforms with a related measure from Councilman Bobby Henon that would set new regulations for all billboards in the city. That proposal is also on hold, and both could see amendments in the new year.

“We want to make sure that our school advertising bill is in alignment with councilman Henon’s sign bill,” Reynolds Brown said. “We don’t want to be tripping over each other.”

Scenic Philadelphia, which usually opposes all outdoor advertising, was absent at the committee hearing on the school advertising bill. Its director, Mary Tracy, said she was unaware of the proposal at that time, as describes the bill as ‘terrible.’ Councilwoman Reynolds Brown alluded to “misinformation” being spread about the proposal, though she did not attribute that to any group or person. She hopes for final passage during Council’s Spring 2014 session.

During the committee hearing, a top district official said passage of the bill doesn’t guarantee that the district will follow through, because the district is looking into whether selling ads on buildings might jeopardize the tax-exempt bonds used to build them.

The plan would prohibit any ads featuring alcohol or tobacco.

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