Archive: October, 2011
Karen Brown, the Republican candidate for mayor, taught math and science to 8th graders at St. Kasimir’s Academy for 10 years, but she could use a brush-up on her constitutional law. In an interview prepared for broadcast Tuesday night, NBC 10’s Steve Highsmith asked her about the Occupy Philadelphia protest outside City Hall. Brown criticized Mayor Nutter’s handling of the situation, while saying she supports the demonstrators’ Fifth Amendment right. (That would be their protection against self-incrimination, not their freedom of speech.)
Here’s the full exchange:
Highsmith: “Occupy Philadelphia, the tent at city hall and surrounding area. What would you do about that? “
Brown: “I wouldn’t have done what he [Nutter] did. I know that they have a right to be there and I encourage them to assert their Fifth Amendment right but I would have never given them the opportunity to stay there. Camping out it’s going to be a bad situation no matter how you look at it. The longer they stay, the bigger they get, the harder it’s going to be to remove them. He should have let them protest during the day and should have told them, you need to go home at night. They should have not used City Hall as their bed and breakfast. “
Troy Graham @troyjgraham on Twitter
If there's one good thing about the Phils getting knocked out of the playoffs, it's that Mayor Nutter won't have to choke down any of the weak, beer-like products that emanate from the fine town of St. Louis.
As per usual mayoral tradition, Mayor Nutter and his counterpart in St. Louis made a beer wager on the Phils-Cards series. Thanks to that squirrel, the Cardinals somehow managed to triumph in five games, and now the mayor of St. Louis (whatever his or her name is) gets to sample some of Philly's finest brews.
Tomorrow, Nutter will join the Phillie Phanatic and Tom Kehoe, the jolly brewmeister of Yards Brewing Company, to fulfill the bet by packing some suds for the journey to St. Louis. (Both mayors also agreed to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, which is far more socially conscious but not nearly as fun as watching baseball and drinking beer).
If the Phils had won, Nutter would have gotten a shipment of Budweiser, which seems silly considering that Budweiser is just about the most ubiquitous beer on the planet. And, it hardly seems like a fair wager, putting up such a mass-produced product against the finer microbrews of our fair city.
No matter who wins the races for City Commissioners in November, one thing seems certain: The office is going to save some money.
The three elected Commissioners perform the crucial task of overseeing city elections.
Last week, Republican Commissioner Candidate Al Schmidt said he would take a 10 percent pay cut if elected. Now Democratic candidate Stephanie Singer says she would decline the most recent pay raise for that office. In July, Commissioners’ salary rose from $117,991 to $120,233.
Both Schmidt and Singer also said they would not use city cars.
As if Mayor Nutter needed the push, Former President Bill Clinton will come to town four days before the general election to stump for incumbent.
Clinton will be at Temple University's Mitten Hall on October 29 in an open rally for the mayor.
Nutter has a healthy relationship with the Clintons; he backed Hillary for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, much to the chagrin of the city's black political establishment.
Perhaps the Secretary of State will show up to help Nutter in his quest to beat Republican Karen Brown in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 6 to 1.Here's the press release from the Nutter campaign.
Republican City Commissioner Candidate Al Schmidt says he would take a 10 percent pay cut if elected. He also would not use a city car and questions the auto usage of sitting commissioner Joseph Duda. Schmidt also pledged to reduce his salary by 25 percent in election years, when sitting commissioners have reduced duties because they are on the ballot.
Read the release here:
Schmidt Pledges Personal Pay Cut, Refuses Taxpayer-Paid Car
(NORTHEAST) – Al Schmidt, Republican candidate for City Commissioner, today pledged to take a voluntary 10% pay cut for the duration of his term if elected, and to increase that cut to 25% in election years when Commissioners are not allowed by law to perform all their duties as they are seeking re-election.
Troy Graham @troyjgraham on Twitter
A Council committee added a sunset provision to the proposed new curfew law today after hearing testimony that curfews are ineffective and violate the rights of minors.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who introduced the bill on Mayor Nutter's behalf, said the administration would be asked to provide data in two years to demonstrate the curfew's effectiveness.
The curfew law, if passed, would expire in December 2013. Based on the data, Council could then makes changes, Brown said.
Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, also warned the committee that the bill is "almost certainly unconstitutional."
If you’re an ordinary Philadelphia voter, you go to the polls once or twice a year and the experience is routine: the poll workers find your name among the registered voters, ask you to sign in and take you to a voting machine, where you duck under a curtain, push buttons for your candidates, open the curtain and go on about your business for the next six months.
If there’s a single person to thank for that routine, it’s someone that most Philadelphians never heard of – Robert Lee Jr., officially listed on the city payroll as “voter registration administrator,” but unofficially, the guy who’s been minding the nuts and bolts of the city election machinery since the 1980s.
Lee had bosses – the city commissioners, especially chairwoman Marge Tartaglione, the leader of the city commissioners since the mid-1970s, who lost her re-election bid last May. But it was Lee who handled the details of the city’s transition from mechanical to digital voting machines and brought in a new imaging system to keep track of voter signatures, among other accomplishments.
“He was the blood and guts of that department,” said a former colleague, Bill Rubin, now a City Council candidate.
Lee retired from the job last month, several weeks after reaching his 60th birthday. He’ll collect a pension of close to $72,000 annually, but he’s walking away from nearly $250,000 in potential deferred-retirement payments, after signing up for the DROP program just last year. It appears he’s taken Tartaglione’s defeat as a personal affront, he holds the media at least partially responsible, and he has no desire to continue the job under new bosses.
Lee refused to say anything about his departure to the reporters he has helped for years, explaining the intricacies of the election process, from voter registration through vote counts. “I’m a private citizen now,” he told the Inquirer last week. “I don’t have to talk to you.”
The city’s DROP pension program has drop-kicked another politician.
Councilman Jim Kenney, whose father was a battalion chief in the fire department, was the only at-large Democratic candidate not endorsed by Local 22, the Philadelphia Firefighters' Union.
And there was only one reason, said Mike Bresnan, Local 22’s recording secretary: Kenney’s initial call to abolish the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.
The plan, better known as DROP, allows city employees to collect a large lump-sum payment when they retire. People who enroll in DROP also get their regular pension payment, but one that is usually less than they would have collected otherwise.
Mayor Nutter vetoed a bill that would have gradually reduced parking taxes from 20 percent to 17 percent, arguing that it would cost the city too much at time when it is struggling to raise revenues.
Councilman Jim Kenney, who had introduced the bill, said he would not try to override the veto because he did not think he had enough votes. The bill originally passed Philadelphia City Council 12 to 5, but Kenney said he believed the mayor had since convinced some council members to change their minds.
Kenney said he didn't agree with the mayor's reasoning. The bill would not take effect until 2014, he said, and would reduce the tax gradually - by one percentage point a year for three years.
Kenney's promise to revisit reducing the tax in January, when Council will have several members, elicited an unusually passionate response from Councilman Brian O'Neill.
The push to require paid sick days in Philadelphia took a step forward Wednesday when a City Council committe passed a bill that would require it for city contractors.
Council's Committee on Commerce and Economic Development unanimously passed the bill, which would require companies that do business with, or get financial assistance from, the city to pay for up to seven days of paid sick time.
The bill, introduced by Councilman Wilson Goode Jr., followed an effort by Councilman Bill Greenlee to require paid sick leave for anyone who worked in the city. Mayor Nutter vetoed the bill, saying that while he supported the idea, he did not think Philadelphia should pass legislation that might make it less competitive than surrounding cities that do not require paid sick leave.
A vote by the full council on Goode's paid sick leave is expected Oct. 13.