Archive: August, 2009
PhillyClout has learned that one victim of Monday's budget cuts was the Office of Consumer Affairs. Director Lance Haver's lone staffer was laid off this week. As a result, the office will no longer field consumer complaints.
The office will remain open, but will focus on studying consumer issues, according to the mayor's press office.
We caught Haver on the phone, who said that, at least for now: "we can’t take complaints because we’re not sure we’re going to be able to resolve them."
U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter denied former state Sen. Vince Fumo’s request for bail pending appeal or an extension of time to report to prison in a decision handed up this afternoon. Fumo must report to the Bureau of Prisons on Aug. 31 to begin serving a 55-month sentence for his conviction on federal corruption charges.
Buckwalter said Fumo met only two of the prerequisites for bail pending appeal -- that he was not likely to flee and he didn’t pose a danger to the community. But the judge said that wasn’t enough.
Buckwalter said Fumo did “not present any substantial issue for review” by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
At this morning's press conference, Mayor Nutter explained the timeline for the 3,000 employee layoffs outlined under the Plan C budget. That budget will soon be enacted if Harrisburg lawmakers don't approve legislation allowing Philadelphia to temporarily raise the sales tax and change payments into the pension fund.
- Tomorrow: The layoff registers for the city's 12,000 workers -- which rank employees based on a number of factors, inluding seniority -- will be complete.
- Sept. 11: The Office of Human Resources will approve the register.
- Sept.17: Unions will be notified of layoff plans.
- Sept. 18: Employees will be notified.
- Oct. 2: Layoffs will be effective.
Mayor Nutter this morning transmitted a copy of the revised five year plan – also known as Plan C or the doomsday budget – to City Council.
Plan C will be enacted if the city doesn't soon get approval from the state for a temporary sales tax increase and some changes to payments into the pension fund. Those moves are worth $700 million over five years. Much of the detail has been reported before – layoffs of nearly 3,000 city workers, along with closures of libraries and recreation centers, as well as a reduction in trash collection – but the plan shows exactly how the cuts will unfold.
Over the course of the five years, the bulk of the cuts come in the first two years when the city’s cash flow problems are the most severe. For example, the Free Library, Fairmount Park and the Recreation Department will be cut back drastically this fiscal year and next, before seeing funding return in the third year of the plan. But for the next two years, the Park will have just 22 staffers, the Free Library will have 138 and Recreation will have 28.
Harrisburg gadfly Gene Stilp had a plan: He was going to deliver 300 vacuum cleaners this morning to U.S. District Justice Ronald Buckwalter to protest the 55-month prison sentence for former state Sen. Vince Fumo. The U.S. Marshals Service had another idea: Not going to happen. They reached a compromise: Stilp parked his flat-bed truck loaded with vacuum cleaners one block away from the federal courthouse at 6th and Market streets and didn't try to deliver them to Buckwalter's office. The truck sported a large sign that said "Judge Buckwalter: No delays, the short sentence sucks."
Fumo's indictment showed that he used money from a non-profit agency he helped start to buy 19 vacuum cleaners, one for every floor of every house he owned. Stilp, who has filed a judicial complaint accusing Buckwalter of basing his Fumo sentence on the "old boy network" of well-connected people who wrote letters asking for mercy, also objects to Fumo's request to delay his Aug. 31 deadline to report to prison.
Stilp said he decided to respect Fumo's privacy and stay away from an engagement party the former senator threw in South Philly last night. So what do you do with 300 vacuum cleaners if you can't deliver them to a judge? Stilp says he will offer them as parts to a vacuum cleaner repair store.
Former state Sen. Vince Fumo throws an engagement party for his fiance, 12 days before he is due to report to federal prison. Prosecutors go to court, arguing that Fumo's appeal is really a ploy to delay that 55-month prison term.
Another day, another prediction of dire consequences in Philadelphia if the state Senate doesn't act soon of legislation needed to balance the city's budget.
Councilman Bill Green takes his call for better Dumpster regulation in Philadelphia to a Center City alley, where he finds plenty of props to make his point.
As we reported earlier, Mayor Nutter plans to provide the five year Plan C to City Council tomorrow. He'll also hold a briefing in the morning to explain how implementation will happen. From his public schedule:
ITINERARY OF PUBLIC APPEARANCES
Mayor Nutter said today that if the city does not get requested budget relief from state lawmakers, the city will slash basically all funding for the First Judicial District, District Attorney's Office and Public Defender.
Nutter said funding for all three agencies would be eliminated for the rest of the current fiscal year if Plan C went into effect. Nutter did not go into details on how the cuts would take effect, instead stressing that they could be avoided if the state Sentate approves legislation that allows the city to temporarily raise the sales tax and change payments into the pension fund.
"We need action, we need action now, without delay so we do not have to implement Plan C," said Nutter, who was joined by District Attorney Lynne Abraham, President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe and Chief Defender Ellen Greenlee.