Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, July 21, 2014, 4:10 PM
Gov. Corbett gave his John Hancock to the state budget on July 10. BRADLEY C. BOWER / ASSOCIATED PRESS
Gov. Corbett, still pushing for the state General Assembly to return from recess to take up legislation to change the state pension plans, today issued a new release about Moody’s Investors Service downgrading of Pennsylvania’s bond rating.

Corbett’s news release said: Today, Moody's Investors Service cited the commonwealth’s current pension crisis as a key reason for downgrading Pennsylvania’s general obligation rating to Aa3 from Aa2. While the commonwealth benefits from a strong economy and low unemployment, Moody’s stated that unfunded pension liabilities, projected to grow to $65 billion from the current $41 billion, will continue to be a major cost driver on the commonwealth.

What it didn’t say: Actually Moody’s was much more pessimistic about the state’s “strong economy,” citing the new budget signed into law by Corbett and “modest economic growth” in Pennsylvania as some of the reasons for the downgrade.

Moody’s said: The downgrade of the general obligation rating to Aa3 reflects the commonwealth's growing structural imbalance, exacerbated by the fiscal 2015 enacted budget that depends on non-recurring resources; a weak GAAP [generally accepted accounting principles] balance position that will further deteriorate based on the budget's one-time measures; and the expectation that large and growing pension liabilities coupled with modest economic growth will limit Pennsylvania's ability to regain structural balance in the near term.

POSTED: Monday, July 21, 2014, 9:13 AM

Philadelphians behind bars work to keep others from joining them.

The Rev. Kevin R. Johnson, the embattled pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church who briefly toyed with running for mayor, announced he is stepping down on Oct. 31.

Some tea party politicians want to get rid of the Export-Import Bank, which helps businesses like Bassets Ice Cream.

POSTED: Friday, July 18, 2014, 12:32 PM
Mayor Nutter (MATTHEW HALL / Staff Photographer, file)

Mayor Nutter's administration and the city's largest union presented arguments in Common Pleas Court today over whether the city has the right to impose contract terms to end five years of fruitless negotiations between the two sides.

AFSCME District Council 33, which represents 8,000 blue-collar city employees who will be impacted by the decision, has been working without a contract since July 2009. Nutter has been seeking changes to pension benefits and overtime rules and the right to furlough workers, and the union has steadfastly rejected those proposals. 

In January 2013, the mayor presented D.C. 33 with a "final offer." After the union turned it down, the city asked the Supreme Court to grant it permission to implement the terms of the offer, arguing that negotiations had reached an impasse. (The union says there is no impasse and continues to make minor counteroffers.)

POSTED: Friday, July 18, 2014, 9:58 AM

A shadowy political-action committee, funded entirely by local building-trade unions, spent $354,032 in the two weeks before the May 20 Democratic primary election to help state Rep. Brendan Boyle win his party's nomination for the 13th District seat in the U.S. House. Also in Clout today, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics looks at #McConnelling. And U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan objects to refurbishing the White House bowling alley.

Counsel offers closing arguments in the federal trial of five Traffic Court judges.

Byko: Welcome, foreign felons.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 11:43 AM
South Philadelphia’s Cheerleaders Gentlemen’s Club (File photo)

Ruling from the bench after a brief hearing, Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler this morning rejected the city's attempt to impose a tax on lap dances in strip clubs.

Mayor Nutter's administration was appealing a decision by the Tax Review Board, which said the city's application of the amusement tax - 5 percent on admission charges - to lap dances at certain strip clubs was inappropriate.

She sided with lawyers for the strip clubs, who argued that the clubs already pay the amusement tax on cover charges, that "interior activities" are not subject to the tax and that the city was applying the tax inconsistently.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 11:13 AM
The PGW plant on Venango St. in Port Richmond. ( Clem Murray / Staff Photographer )

UIL Holdings Corp., the proposed buyer of the Philadelphia Gas Works, announced this morning that it will stick with the $1.86 billion deal for now.

The Connecticut company, which Mayor Nutter's administration selected out of 33 bidders, is legally allowed to walk away from the proposed deal as of yesterday. 

In a statement, UIL CEO James Togerson said: 

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 8:57 AM

'Brutal Attack:' Person questioned in death of art-school graduate who was stuffed in bag, by William Bender and Vinny Vella. 

Deadline on PGW sale passes, so what's next? Sean Collins Walsh explains. 

Capitols: Separate but equal? Mirror image is worth shattering, from John Baer. 

POSTED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:03 AM

Columnist Helen Ubinas says we shouldn't just blame the parents when searching for answers in the deadly fire that killed four children in Southwest Philly.

Mayor Nutter says the city's July 4th concert wasn't as potty-mouthed as many thought.

The editorial page says Gov. Corbett did the right thing by taking on the legislature with his line-item vetoes last week.

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
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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
 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
 Follow Sean on Twitter

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