Sunday, March 1, 2015

Will City Go To Court To Get SEPTA Back to Work?

Mayor Nutter today said the city is reviewing whether it could seek an injunction to send striking SEPTA employees back to work.

Will City Go To Court To Get SEPTA Back to Work?

Mayor Nutter today said the city is reviewing whether it could seek an injunction to send striking SEPTA employees back to work.

“The standards for an injunction, based on previous court rulings are fairly high and fairly specific,” Nutter said. “We’ve been monitoring all the elements of the strike since Tuesday. But ultimately that’s a legal matter and a legal decision based on those standards.”

Nutter said the city was particularly concerned about the public health impact of the strike, given the public health emergency declared to deal with the H1N1 flu.

“The city solicitor, the law department, all of our public safety areas and public health areas have been monitoring the impact of the strike from, not just an inconvenience standpoint, but from a true impact of people trying to get to their doctor or to their hospital,” Nutter said. “There is a health emergency that was declared by the city and the state related to H1N1 and we’re very concerned that medical care may not be provided.”

But Nutter did not provide a time frame for the decision, saying it would depend on when the city met the necessary criteria.

“It’s a fact based decision. If you look at the rulings from the past, there are a series of factors you have to take into consideration,” Nutter said. “It’s not something to make a decision on today or at any moment. If you’re going to go, you should go with the best facts and the best case available.”

UPDATE, 11:55 a.m.: We just spoke with City Solicitor Shelley Smith, who made clear that the city does not plan to go to court right away. She said that to get an injunction, the city would have to show "clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public."

To show that, Smith said, the city would need to provide the court with witnesses who could testify that they could not get health care or access emergency services because of the strike. So far, they have no such examples.

"We've been monitoring for that kind of evidence and we have none," Smith said, noting that it will take more time and data collection for the city to know if they can go to court.

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@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
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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