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Archive: February, 2013

POSTED: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 12:33 PM
Many observers praise the newest Councilmembers - Bill Green, Curtis Jones Jr., and Maria Quinones Sanchez, above - for lighting a fire under their Council comrades. Sanchez credits the leadership for being open to new ideas. (Jessica Griffin / Staff, File)

Small commercial properties will see increases to their tax bills under the Actual Value Initiative, a new property-tax system based on market values.

In light of that, City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez wants to aid small business that could get hit twice under AVI.

Last year to raise money for schools, Council increased the use-and-occupancy tax which is 5.5 percent of the value of the business portion of a property.

POSTED: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 8:20 AM

Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan, who brushed aside video evidence when he acquitted ex-cop Jonathan Josey on Tuesday of assaulting a woman last September, is married to Philadelphia Police Officer Nancy Farrell Dugan. Should he have recused himself?

The Actual Value Initiative's homestead exemption is supposed to give Philly homeowners some tax relief, but many don't know they're eligible to sign up. Meanwhile, some properties have been approved for the exemption even though they're not eligible. And Councilman Mark Squilla, whose district will be hit hardest by AVI, wants to phase it in over time.

Councilman Jim Kenney and the administration are pushing to make the Inspector General's Office permanent - but what should the office inspect? Not Council, if they have anything to say about it. (They do.)

POSTED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 11:42 AM
Prison Commissioner Louis Giorla, pictured here at Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

Philadelphia Prison Commissioner Louis Giorla on Wednesday defended the city’s controversial inmate healthcare provider, Corizon Healthcare, in his first public comments on the company since the city agreed to renew its contract for $42 million per year despite a lower bid from another company.

“During the company’s tenure, health services at the Philadelphia prisons have undergone significant changes and improvements,” Giorla said at a hearing organized by Councilman Jim Kenney. “When we compared the providers, we felt that Corizon was more capable of rendering the services,” he said after.

Giorla declined to answer many questions posed by Council members, citing the potential for a lawsuit from a Corizon competitor that made a lower bid. The contract, which the city can choose to extend for up to four years, will be signed March 1, he said.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 10:53 AM

The cop captured on video punching a woman was acquitted. Ronnie Polaneczky said the verdict was a real slap in the face. Meanwhile Christine Flowers says due process goes beyond the camera.

Mayor Nutter has a plan to save $85 million.

Where's the additional tax relief for renters?

POSTED: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 6:22 PM

Call it the "Philadelphia of the future."

Mayor Nutter addressed the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce today at the annual Mayor luncheon where he released a report that showed the city could save $85 million over five years through cost-saving measures and improved revenue collection.

With hopes of improving collection rates, Nutter said the city is moving to establish a Chief Revenue Collections Officer, who would oversee collection efforts and create more efficient practices. 

POSTED: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 8:44 AM

SEPTA, once under a mountain of debt and under the FBI microscope, is now considered one of the country's best transit agencies, recently winning the industry's "Oscar."

Fresh off his guilty plea to the feds, John McDaniel, former campaign manager to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, has agreed to a settlement with the city Ethics Board that was announced Monday for making contributions higher than the legal limit and mischaraterizing items on campaign-finance reports.

And there's no reason to panic if you haven't received your AVI assessment yet.

POSTED: Monday, February 25, 2013, 4:39 PM
John D. McDaniel leave Federal Court in Philadelphia, Pa. on February 14, 2013. McDaniel, former campaign manager to City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal wire fraud charge in the theft of more than $100,000 from Brown's campaign fund and another political action committee heavily funded by the Laborers Union. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

John McDaniel, the former campaign manager for City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, entered into a settlement agreement Monday afternoon with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics. McDaniel admitted to:

  • Giving Brown $4,600 in campaign contributions in 2011, $2,000 more than the $2,600 per year limit, to cover election expenses. 
  • Giving Brown $3,750 in cashier's checks and checks drawn from his personal bank account to help her pay Board of Ethics fines in 2011 for violations of the city's campaign finance law.
  • Making 40 "material omissions and misstatements" in filing reports for Brown's political action committee and Progressive Action PAC, a political action committee funded by the Laborer's District Council.
  • Committing five violations of the city's ban on political activity by employees. He continued to coordinate Progressive Agenda PAC finances in 2012 after Mayor Nutter gave him a $87,125-per-year job supervising volunteers at the airport.

McDaniel, who pleaded guilty in federal court two weeks ago to stealing from Brown's political action committee and from Progressive Agenda PAC, agreed to pay a $12,450 fine. The settlement agreement said that fine will be waived if McDaniel, due to be sentenced May 14, is sent to federal prison.

Charles Gibbs, McDaniel's attorney, said the settlement showed that McDaniel was taking responsibility for his actions. "He understands that he committed certain violations of the city code and city charter," Gibbs said.

POSTED: Monday, February 25, 2013, 10:59 AM
State Sen. Mike Stack is handing out "Stack 2014" buttons. (Chris Brennan)

The May 2014 primary elections for governor are 15 months away but, judging by our email inbox, prospective candidates feel like they are right around the corner.  We've entered the "Hey, look at me!" phase of the political calendar.  Consider:

  • State Sen. Mike Stack is chatting up reporters about his interest in running for governor, trying to put himself in context with two Democrats considered top-tier candidates: U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and state Treasurer Rob McCord.  Stack won another four-year term for his Northeast Philadelphia district last year and won't have to run for re-election until 2016. He is handing out campaign buttons that say "Mike Stack 2014 for Pennsylvania."
  • Tom Knox, the Philadelphia millionaire who finished second in the 2007 Democratic primary for mayor, put out a news release Monday morning touting his hiring of Frank Keel, who does public relations work for unions and politicians, as a signal of his "serious intent to mount another campaign for political office." Which office?  Who can tell?  Knox briefly ran for governor in 2009 and 2010 and then flirted with running for mayor in 2011 as a Democrat and then an Independent.  Knox says he is taking a "very serious look" at challenging Gov. Corbett's bid for a second term but is also looking at "other opportunities."
  • Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor, who is mulling a primary challenge to Corbett next year, issued a news release Monday morning to "clarify PA's economic performance.  Castor noted that Corbett recently claimed that Pennsylvania has created more private-sector jobs than surrounding state, a claim challenged by the Associated Press in Harrisburg.
  • While many people are seeking attention for the top of the ticket, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli sent out a LinkedIn message Sunday announcing that he is "seriously considering" a run in the 2014 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.  Morganelli was the Democratic candidate in 2008 for state Attorney General, losing to Corbett.
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 brennac@phillynews.com
 Follow Chris on Twitter

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
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

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