Archive: February, 2013
Crime has some Philadelphians wondering if the city's bad points outweigh the good.
Meanwhile homicides are down compared to last year's bloody start.
Axis Philly found that 40 percent of the city's new assessments are off.
In Friday's Clout column: state Treasurer Rob McCord disputes a claim from state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams that he would step aside if U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz decides to challenge Gov. Corbett next year. Also, District Attorney Seth Williams squares off with his likely GOP foe for a second term. And 58 potential candidates are interested in three seats on Traffic Court, even though it is very likely the General Assembly will remove those seats as part of a plan to abolish that court.
A federal judge sides with Mayor Nutter after Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia sought to lift a ban on their members making political contributions through the lodge's PAC. The union says it will appeal.
The Actual Value Initiative, which is readjusting city property tax bills based on a reassessment, is real to residents now that the new bills are arriving. City Council scrambles to deal with the ensuing anger.
City Council members are often judged by their legislative prowess, but Thursday night the singing, dancing, guitar playing legislative body was cheered --and occassionally laughed at all for a good cause at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
At the first-of-its-kind fundraising event, "Council's Got Talent" members helped raise $30,000 for Philabundance to help fight hunger while putting on an entertaining show.
Council president Darrell Clarke, sporting the usual black suit, stood behind a podium with the 5 CDs which consisted of a range of staffers including Council's Chief Clerk, sergeant at arms and others. Clarke and staff sung John Legend's Green Light, but a remixed version that described the green, yellow and red light on Council's hand-held timer that signals public speakers as to when their comment period has concluded.
Has an employer ever asked for your Facebook or Twitter password?
Well doing so is illegal in at least two states: California and Illinois. Now City Councilman Bill Greenlee is joining the bandwagon of legislators who say employers should butt out of employees’ personal lives.
“They shouldn’t be forced to give up their social media account where employers or prospective employers can look into what really is their private business which might divulge their political beliefs, their religious beliefs, their sexual orientation, that kind of thing. And that shouldn’t really be the employers business to know,” Greenlee said.
As City Council prepares for one of the most intense budget seasons, members are looking for ways to protect homeowners under the Actual Value Initiative, a new property-tax system based on market values.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced legislation today that creates a hardship deferment that would allow eligible homeowners to defer any amount over 2.5 times their previous tax bill until they can afford the bill or until the house is sold.
"Should all property owners pay their fair share? Absolutely," said Johnson, whose 2nd district which includes South Philly, Point Breeze, the Graduate Hospital area, is one of the hardest hit under AVI. "But realistically, these residents did not create this system and we need to recognize that some folks simply just cannot afford such a drastic increase all at once."
Daniel Alvarez, an assistant district attorney for about eight years who worked in the gun unit and then the child support enforcement unit, is expected to be the Republican candidate for district attorney in Philadelphia this year. Democrat Seth Williams, who was an assistant district attorney and district attorney during Alvarez's tenure, is seeking a second term.
Alvarez is now in private practice. Linda Kerns, a family law attorney, was being courted by local Republican leaders in December to enter the race. Kerns said Thursday that she has decided to back Alvarez for the office, calling him "an upright, moral citizen who is dedicated to his work and family."
Candidates need 1,000 signatures from registered voters in their political parties on nominating petitions to qualify for the ballot. Tuesday was the first day to circulate petitions. March 12 is the deadline to file those petitions.
Sean Collins Walsh
The Actual Value Initiative, which begins next year, could mean increased tax burdens for many Philly small businesses.
Landlords also say they are getting the short end of the stick with AVI and may have to pass the cost on to renters.
Meanwhile, some in Council tell the administrtion they don't want to look like the bad guys when they adopt a tax rate higher than 1.25 percent - the figure that the administration has been basing many of its estimates on but that few believe will be the final rate.
Is survivalist/ conspiracy theorist a target?
School District saves 10 schools.
Matt Ruben talks about what the new property-tax system means for taxpayers.