Archive: June, 2009
Councilman Jim Kenney vowed to continue to fight for a plastic bag ban today, after his plastic bag legislation failed in City Council.
An agitated Kenney accused Jeff Brown, owner of 11 Shoprite stores in the city, of lobbying Council members to oppose the ban, which failed 6-10. Kenney called on environmentally conscious residents to boycott Shoprite stores.
In City Council chambers, Councilman Darrell Clarke just introduced the Nutter administration's legislation that would change the city pension program to provide a lower level of benefits for new hired. Clarke stressed that he was introducing the bill on behalf of the administration.
The proposed plan would combine a traditional pension - at a lower benefit rate than current employees receive - with a 401(k) plan into which workers pay. Because today is the final Council session of the season, the bill could not receive final passage until fall. But if it were to pass, any workers hired after July 1 would be retroactively subject to the terms.
The legislation introduced today is needed to amend city law. But any change to worker pensions would also have to be approved by the city's four municipal unions, whose contracts expire June 30. Union leaders yesterday criticized the proposal.
City Council's final session before a three-month summer recess is under way with a slew of legislation up for final votes. Among all those bills are four of interest:
Councilman Bill Green's legislation to add more regulations to the use of Dumpsters.
Green's legislation to allow for the interior of buildings to be designated as historic. This bill was written to help preserve the interior of the Boyd Theater at 19th and Chestnut streets.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez's legislation to give consumers options when supermarkets or drug stores sell them expired goods.
Councilmen Frank DiCicco's and Jim Kenney's legislation to ban the use of plastic bags by supermarkets and drug stores.
UPDATE: Here's the result of those votes:
* The dumpster legislation was held.
* Historic designation passed 14-2.
* The expired goods bill passed 16-0.
* Plastic bags legislation failed to pass 6-10.
A big PhillyClout congratulations to Olivia Nutter who is set to graduate from the 8th Grade at the Masterman School today. According to the school calendar, the ceremony is this afternoon.
You may remember Olivia from the campaign ad she did for her dad two years ago. Many credit the charming teen with helping Nutter win the election.
The Coalition for Essential Services, a group that has been protesting budget cuts, are back in City Hall this morning complaining about plans to keep some public pools closed this summer. The group is holding a protest outside City Council's chambers before the last scheduled meeting before a three-month recess.
The city, coping with a $1.4 billion gap in the five-year financial plan, is opening 46 of the 73 outdoor public pools this summer. The coalition, which includes members of the city's municipal unions, want all the pools open, no cuts to recreation programs and "fair and just contracts" for city workers.
How to pay for all that? The group has advocated for raising the business privilege tax and wage taxes, ideas that Mayor Nutter and Council didn't go for this year.
Dave Davies takes a look at the state's Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which is luring supermarkets to the inner city.
The city wraps up its long-running dispute with the Philadelphia Eagles, walking away with $3 million from a fight where everyone claimed to be owed $8 million.
And a city police detective is accused of tipping off a drug dealer about a raid.
Today is the last day with the Nutter administration for Mark Alan Hughes, the mayor's director of sustainability, who announced his resignation last month. Hughes recently unveiled the city's sustainability plan, Greenworks.
So who will take over the job of greening Philadelphia? No word yet. Mayoral spokesman Luke Butler said Nutter will announce a new director soon. In the meantime, the staff in the sustainability office will continue the work.
Who do you think should be the city's Green Czar?
We got this press release earlier today:
MAYOR NUTTER ANNOUNCES $13.5 MILLION FROM RECOVERY ACT FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
Investments will save or create an estimated 350 jobs
Philadelphia, June 17 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced details today of $13.5 million in Recovery Act funds for public safety in Philadelphia including $2.5 million for a high-tech Real Time Crime Center at Police Headquarters, $3 million for crime prevention and re-entry services including green jobs training and a Mural Arts program for at-risk youth.
“These investments will not only save lives but save jobs,” said Mayor Nutter. “With this Recovery Act funding we are able to provide better equipment and training for our police officers, invest in our priority areas of opportunities for ex-offenders and green job training, and provide job opportunities for hundreds of Philadelphians. This will have a real impact on this city and our citizens.”
The programs selected by the City of Philadelphia not only include investment in equipment and training for Philadelphia Police Officers, but programs that will create an estimated 300 jobs and save 52 court employee positions.
The Nutter administration says that tomorrow they will transmit legislation to City Council that would change the city pension plan for any new city workers.
Managing Director Camille Barnett said the proposed plan would combine a traditional pension -- at a lower benefit than current employees receive -- with a 401K plan that workers pay into. New hires who want more than the pension offering could sign up for the 401K plan and the city would provide matching funds.
Because tomorrow is the final council session of the season, the bill could not recieve final passage until fall. But if it were to pass, any workers hired after July 1 would be retroactively subject to the terms, Barnett said.
Finance Director Rob Dubow said the plan would save the city $500 million over 30 years. "This is a financial move to ensure the health of our pension fund," he said.
The city is sending the legislation to Council just two weeks before labor contracts for the four municipal unions expire. According to the city, pension terms are set both through city ordinances and collective bargaining agreements. The police and fire contracts will be settled through arbitration, while the two non-uniform worker contracts must be negotiated.
Barnett said the legislation shouldn't be viewed as a message to the unions as contracts are negotiated. "The motivation is to bring the changes to the [pension program,]" she said.
Managing Director Camille Barnett sent this email to all city employees yesterday. The city has about 866 employees that are not union represented and 2,831 exempt employees who are not unionized. So they may have to cancel their summer plans if union workers hit the pavement.
Here's the note:
The City's labor contracts with its non-uniformed, unionized employees end at midnight, June 30th. While we hope that a strike can be avoided, the possibility of a strike cannot be ruled out at this time. The City of Philadelphia must ensure that, in the event of a work stoppage by either of the municipal unions, vital services continue. It is also important to inform employees how a work stoppage could affect their leave.
With these concerns in mind, please be informed that in the event AFSCME, District Council 33 or AFSCME, District Council 47 calls for a strike vote, all leave may need to be cancelled until further notice. The leave cancellation may occur regardless of whether the leave was previously approved.
We regret any inconvenience this may cause our employees.