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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: August, 2009

POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 3:42 PM

Legislation that would provide the city with requested budget relief may get final passage in the state Senate later today. Mayor Nutter -- who is in Harrisburg today -- has sent a formal letter to state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the Republican Majority Leader, asking for speedy approval.

Nutter notes that he did not want amendments attatched to the bill, but says he still would like to see approval today.

The new version of the bill includes amendments that would bar elected officials from the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) and would require the city to freeze the pension plan and create a lower-cost plan for all new city employees.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 12:55 PM

Former Mayor Bill Green, whose Democratic powerhouse family has ties with the Kennedys dating back to the 1950s, today remembered Sen. Ted Kennedy as a dynamic and vigorous lawmaker who dedicated his life to serving others.

“He had some holes ripped in his heart by assassinations,” said Green. “I think his strength and his greatness was that he allowed compassion, rather than cynicism, to fill those holes.”

Kennedy died this morning at the age of 77 after battling a brain tumor.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 11:51 AM

Here are some of the email statements we've been getting from local politicians on the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy:

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak:  “Today, America lost a man who helped shape the future of our country for a generation. Senator Ted Kennedy’s leadership on education, health care, civil rights, worker rights and so much more has helped millions of people make good on the promise of the American Dream to pass along a better nation to our next generation. He leaves behind a legacy of true patriotism. And we honor his legacy by remembering that we are in this together and by doing our part to make a difference. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Kennedy family who are mourning the loss of a dear father, brother, grandfather, and husband.”

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah: “Senator Teddy Kennedy’s vision, drive and effectiveness as the advocate for those who are underserved in our society has been an inspiration to me throughout my career, starting with my work as a young political activist in his 1980 Presidential campaign.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 8:06 AM

Three teens accused of last year's subway concourse slaying are found guilty.

Needed city budget legislation up for final vote in state Senate today. But the amdendments will slow the process.

There are two open slots on the School Reform Commission.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 11:45 AM

Mayor Nutter this morning dodged questions on the amended version of state House Bill 1828, legislation that would give the city much needed budget relief.

The bill gives the city permission to temporarily raise the sales tax and change payments into the pension fund -- measures needed to balance the budget. The revised version -- approved yesterday evening by the state Senate Finance Committee -- includes amendments that would bar elected officials from the controversial DROP program and would require the city to freeze the pension plan and create a lower-cost plan for all new employees. (Here's a summary of the amendments.)

"Our preference was no amendments to the bill. We wanted to stay on a particular time path," Nutter said. "I'm not going to parse through the different pieces."

POSTED: Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 11:35 AM

It's a mystery -- what happened to Foxwoods casino project proposed for the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store at Eighth and Market streets in Center City.  That may be solved Friday, when the casino investors have to defend their request to the state Gaming Control Board -- as we described today -- for an extension on the deadline to open their casino.  But for now, don't bother calling Foxwoods for information.

Brian Ford, CEO of Washington Philadelphia Investors [the local investors] hasn't responded to questions about whether the project is still going forward in Center City or returning to the state-approved location in South Philly.  The phone number for Foxwoods Development Co., the for-profit arm of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which runs casinos in Connecticut and joined forces with the local partners, redirects callers to Washington Philadelphia Investors.

Call that number and a Cavalier Phone answering system asks you to select a number based on what you want.  "For information about the status of the project, employment or vendor opportunities, please press 1," the system prompts.  Heck, we want information on the status of the project.  So we pressed 1.  The system then sent us to directory assistance.  We called back, pressed 1 again, and followed the directions.  Sure enough, the system provided us with our home phone number. So no help there, unless you're looking for a phone number. 

POSTED: Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 8:46 AM

Your attention please:  We have a missing casino project.  If anyone has seen Foxwoods, please direct it immediately to the city and the state Gaming Control Board.  Thank you.

Speaking of gambling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia told the state of Delaware yesterday not to bet on single-game events.

Dog-fighting is on the rise in Philadelphia as the SPCA helps break up another ring.  The Philadelphia Eagles try to address that problem, after signing the one guy most famous for the cruel endeavor.

POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009, 6:56 PM

The state Senate Finance Committee just unanimously approved House Bill 1828, which would give the city the authority to raise its sales tax by 1-cent on the dollar and defer some payments to the city pension plan.  The $700 million anticipated from those two measures would help balance the city's budget and avoid a fallback budget that calls for the layoff of 3,000 employees and cuts to many services.

Mayor Nutter was in Harrisburg for the committee vote and he thanked the senators for their support, calling the city's preferred budget "one step closer" to reality, according to Daily News columnist John Baer.  Nutter had called on the Senate to pass the legislation, approved by the House on Aug. 5, without any amendments.  That didn't happen.  Instead, the Senate wrote 50* pages of amendments into the legislation.  Click here to read today's story, where we predicted what the amendments would cover.

The legislation now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday for a hearing and could be considered by the full Senate for a vote later that day.  Since it has been amended, the legislation would have to go back to the House for reconsideration.  That's a tight timeline, since the city has said Aug. 31 is the deadline for the city to deliver its fallback budget to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.  House Democrats have said they will be ready to move swiftly on the legislation when it returns.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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