Sean Collins Walsh
To plow through its pre-holiday deluge of bills, City Council in recent weeks has turned to using consent agendas.
That's a process in which members agree to vote on many bills at the same time and approve them all unanimously.
PhillyClout admires this efficiency ... so here's our omnibus blog post on today's doings on the fourth floor:
Sean Collins Walsh
Many of the city's top ethics officials gathered today to debate how the city should regulate gifts for municipal employees, and things got heated - well, at least by Ethics Board meeting standards.
Two Nutter administration officials, Inspector General Amy Kurland and Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman, urged the board to shoot down the proposed regulation, which would limit cash gifts to $50 and non-cash gifts to $200 in value.
"This regulation creates more problems than it solves," said Markman, describing hypothetical scenarios in which officials could solicit and accept gifts, like a $199 watch - something she would now advise against. "This is just plain NUTS!"
During a marathon public hearing before City Council’s education committee today, representatives from the School District of Philadelphia urged the city to seek a permanent funding method from Harrisburg for city schools.
Matthew E. Stanski, Chief Financial Officer for the school district, and Dr. Lori Shorr, Chief Education Officer within the Mayor’s Office of Education, both said that the city went from receiving $110 million a year from the Commonwealth to zero.
As it stands, the school district receives 57 percent of its budget from the state and 37 percent from the city.
Sean Collins Walsh
City Controller Alan Butkovitz said today that the city needs to do more to crack down on delinquent real-estate taxpayers.
"Taxpayers don't take seriously the fact that the city's got any teeth in enforcing collections, so everybody games the system," said Butkovitz, who today released a report that says the city and school district missed out on $120 million in taxes fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
One problem, he said, is that the city waits too long before notifying people that they are behind on their bills.
The field of eligible bidders seeking to buy Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) from the city is narrowed from 30, the Nutter administration announced today, though a spokesman wouldn’t say by how much.
Nutter Press Secretary Mark McDonald told the Daily News that there have been further developments in the potential sale of the nation’s largest municipally-owned gas utility, and that “qualified parties” now have “much more detailed information about the company.”
“We’ve now gone to the next level and reduced that number to a number that – for competitive reasons – we’re not able to disclose,” said McDonald.
Speaking publicly for the second time after the death of her daughter in the Market Street building collapse in June, City Treasurer Nancy Winkler yesterday questioned whether the tragedy could have been prevented by her own employer – the City of Philadelphia.
“How could L&I have granted a demolition permit in this instance if it did due diligence on those involved?” Winkler asked while testifying in a City Council hearing.
“How could L&I have permitted the demolition to continue up to and on June 5, given the fact the site had previously been inspected and cited for violations? How was it possible that a catastrophe could be risked on Market Street in plain view for weeks, of which the city received repeated warnings, and there was no public safety response?”
It's official -- former Republican City Councilman Frank Rizzo is now a Democrat pondering a run for mayor in 2015. That may be very good news for state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
Rizzo, who switched his registration to independent after losing the 2011 Republican primary election, was assisted in his party change today by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic chairman. Brady is tight with Williams, a likely candidate for mayor in 2015 who appears to have his chairman's support.
We asked Brady if a Rizzo campaign (a white candidate) could help Williams (a black candidate), potentially drawing away voters who might support another opponent in the Democratic primary election.
This is tremendous.