It was January 2005, and City Council had just approved the authorization of a resolution forming a nuisance bar task force, “responsible for coordinating and enforcing a new state law that allows an administrative law judge from the Liquor Control Board to assess points against bars and delis that receive liquor code violations,” according to a South Philly Review piece at the time. Then-Councilwoman Anna Verna had led the charge, as many nuisance bars that had received complaints were in her South Philly district.
One of those working on the issue inside Verna’s office was Bob Previdi, the former Council president’s communications director. Previdi notes that in many cases, the nuisance bars should have been shut down, but bureaucratic loopholes allowed them to stay open.
“So, we tried to get those loopholes shut,” Previdi says. “It was the right thing to do.”
Six years later, when Verna retired, she was lauded in part for her work on closing nuisance bars.
Now, the former Councilwoman’s communications director is the policy coordinator for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, working with us to better present our issues city government—and especially to his former place of employment: City Council.
“Working on the nuisance bar bill was much like the work we do here,” Previdi says. “It didn’t always make the news and ultimately wasn’t really sexy stuff, but ultimately, like the Bicycle Coalition’s work with crash data, it made a parent feel better about their child walking or biking to school, and that’s what I’m interested in.”
Living in Chestnut Hill, Previdi has been involved with his local Registered Community Organization for several years and previously worked with the Pennsylvania Voter ID coalition, working throughout North and West Philadelphia. Before moving to Philadelphia, he worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City, for 14 years. He’s a cyclist, too, usually riding recreationally; his route: taking the Wissihickon trail down to Kelly Drive and ultimately South Philly (and back!) on weekends. He’s got a second bike he uses to get to and from small shopping excursions.
Previdi began at the Bicycle Coalition in February, and has since been working to introduce our widely-spread platform to members of Council, in addition to the mayoral candidates in this year’s elections.
At the top of Previdi’s priorities: Better bike and pedestrian infrastructure, which will help foster a space for the city to grow economically, and create safer neighborhoods.
“Councilmembers need to understand what’s happening on their streets in their own constituencies,” he says. “If I do my job properly, I’m effectively communicating the hazards and the opportunities to help their agenda of improving neighborhoods and making communities safer.”