City Hall stories to watch for in 2020

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — 2020 promises to be an active year at Philadelphia City Hall, with a new City Council, a new police commissioner and new initiatives aimed at curbing gun violence.

The news, of course, is impossible to predict, but ongoing stories are sure to develop in new ways this year. 

Philadelphia's record-setting homicide tally will likely spur new anti-violence strategies. 

Look for the return of focused deterrence, which concentrates on the most likely offenders with a combination of services to help them abandon crime and the threat of swift and sure punishment if they don't. 

The new police commissioner endorsed the technique in her debut press conference, having seen it work when she was deputy chief in Oakland, California. The Kenney administration also wants to revive it. Even the district attorney, who ended a flailing pilot project in Philadelphia when he came into office, has indicated he's willing to give it another try.

The Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, shuttered and bankrupt after an explosion and fire last June, will likely get a new owner early this year. Bids are due Jan. 10. PES has a week to evaluate the best one. And if an auction is needed, it would take place Jan. 17. All the bids are under wraps until then.

January will also see movement in the quest to give Philadelphia the country's first supervised injection site. A federal judge has ruled the site would not violate federal law. The nonprofit Safehouse expects to ask for a final order, next week, and the U.S. attorney would have two weeks to respond. Safehouse has a plan to open as soon as the case is resolved.

Later in the year, we'll see the federal corruption trial for electricians union leader John Dougherty and associates, including City Council Majority Leader Bobby Henon. Dougherty and Henon have pleaded not guilty, but the cloud over Henon is likely to prompt a change of leadership in council. 

Councilmember Cherelle Parker is said to have the votes needed to take over as majority leader, with Curtis Jones becoming majority whip. 

City Council will have four new members. Much has been made of the fact that they are all progressive Democrats, including Kendra Brooks, who took an at-large seat away from a Republican, running as a third-party candidate. But Council has pursued a progressive agenda for years and is likely to simply continue on that path.