Archive: April, 2009
Mayor Nutter has stressed since taking office last year his administration's determination to crack down on ethics violations and cooperate with federal investigators on corruption cases. To that end, Mayor Nutter is about to host a news conference with U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid on two indictments unsealed today.
* Brenda Wilkins, a 62-year-old real estate specialist with the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp., is accused of using her job in 2005 to transfer ownership of a PHDC-owned property valued at $65,000 to a middleman for $1 who then sold the property for $1 to Wilkins' daughter. Wilkins faces 24 to 30 months in prison if convicted.
* Dorena Kearney, 52, is accused of stealing $138,000 in government grants to The Colours Organization, a non-profit set up in the city in 1991 to establish "progressive educational advocacy and support mechanisms" for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people of color. Kearney, of Lindenwold, N.J., has been the agency's executive director since 2004. The thefts apparently occured between 2004 and 2007. She is accused of using agency credit cards for personal expenses like a vacation cruise and dog grooming. She faces 12 to 18 months in prison if convicted.
City Solicitor Shelley Smith today told a government watchdog group that she agrees with a 2006 opinion from former Mayor John Street's city solicitor that elected officials enrolled in the controversial DROP program can run for re-election, retire for one day, collect the pension payment and return to work.
"The DROP ordinance, as enacted by City Council, does not distinguish between elected officials and other City officials; does not prohibit retirement between the time of the general election and the time of retaking office on the basis of that election; does not prescribe any particular length of retirement for an official, subsequent to participation in the DROP; and does not bar any City official from returning to City office post-retirement," reads the letter from Smith to Committee of Seventy President Zack Stalberg.
The Committee of Seventy last month asked Smith to revise the legal opinion submitted by former solicitor Romulo Diaz in June 2006 that said that it was legal for Council members in the Deferred Retirement Option Program to resign for a day, collect the payment, and then return to elected office. Councilwoman Joan Krajewski did just that in 2007, winning an eighth term, retiring for one day and collecting $288,136.
As we told you in today's Daily News, the Board of Revision of Taxes is dropping in the laps of Mayor Nutter and City Council the potential results of a controversial change in the way the city taxes property ownership. You can read the BRT's news release after the jump.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
BOARD OF REVISION OF TAXES SUBMITS FIRST-EVER ACTUAL MARKET VALUES FOR MORE THAN 577,000 PROPERTIES CITYWIDE
Check out this report from PA2010, which says that U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak might be the most likely candidate to run against Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic senate primary in 2010.
A poll by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that city residents support bringing casinos to Philadelphia by a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent. In addition, 60 percent support the current proposal to locate one of the two casinos planned for the city on the Delaware riverfront while 35 percent oppose that. The plan to place the second casino on East Market Street was not so popular, with just 39 percent of the respondents in favor while 57 percent are against it.
The Pew poll, released last week, also showed that a majority of Philadelphians opposed Mayor Nutter's plans to increase local taxes to help close a $1.4 billion gap in the city's five-year financial plan.
You can view the poll here. After the jump, you can read more from Pew about the casino issue in the poll.
President Obama and Vice President Biden this morning opened their arms to newly declared Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter, the Associated Press reports. Praising his political record and success in battling health problems, Obama called Specter "one tough hombre."
Check out the AP report here.
Lots of stories today on Sen. Arlen Specter's plans to switch to the Democratic party. Will Bunch says the move is all about survival. John Baer says it's all over for any Democrats considering running in 2010. And the DN editorial board questions: does Specter now automatically get the Democratic nomination?
Will the city switch to "actual value" property tax assesments in 2010?
City Council suggests their own plan to close the budget gap, through a five-year increase of the sales tax.
We just got this press release from City Council -- an hour after their budget hearings ended for the day.
Sounds like they're actually playing hardball with the mayor over how to manage the $1.4 billion five-year budget gap. Council is suggesting that by extending the temporary sales tax hike from three years to five and by combining it with other efficiencies, the city could avoid Mayor Nutter's propsed two-year property tax hike.
UPDATE: We just spoke with Nutter, who said he was surprised by Council's announcement. Nutter said he met with Council leadership this morning to talk about their ideas, but thought they still needed to be developed. He said Council had agreed to work with the mayor's staff to figure them out.