Archive: May, 2009
More from Jeff Shields:
Today's lively City Council meeting - see previous blog post - was preceded by a most curious invocation.
It was delivered by Terrence D. Griffith, pastor of the First African Baptist Churt and chair of the PAC run by the Black Clergy of Philadelphia. Griffith, who was among those raising questions in a story today about the internal workings of the Nutter administration, was the special guest of Councilman Bill Green. Here's what he said:
Despite a budget agreement to be introduced in City Council today, Council members were poised this morning to defy Mayor Nutter yet again, this time on Nutter's appointments to SEPTA and the Philadelphia Board of Ethics. It's another possible indication of how the mayor's political strength is being tested, as reported in today's Inquirer.
In a 9 a.m. committee session, Council members criticized Nutter's deputy mayor for transportation, Rina Cutler, and promised not to support her nomination to the SEPTA board until she came before them in private to explain her positions on a number of issues.
The district attorney's race is about to potentially get even more interesting.
Thanks to a hefty contribution that Dan McCaffery - one of six candidates - contributed to his campaign committee Monday, the city's millionaire's provision has officially kicked in.
That means that for the rest of 2009, the contribution limits are now double what they were: $5,200 for individuals and $21,200 for political committees and others.
Mayor Nutter's spokesman, Doug Oliver, says in an email that there's no final agreement yet with City Council on the budget, despite the apparent existence of a deal in principle on property and sales taxes.
"Nothing has been finalized," Oliver said. "There are still some moving pieces, and we're still talking with Council leadership. We're cautiously optimistic that we will find common ground and able to move forward with one voice."
Nutter is on his way to the National Constitution Center to testify during a U.S. Senate hearing on the 2010 census.
Mayor Nutter and City Council have reached an agreement in principal on the city’s budget which would wipe out the Mayor’s proposed property tax increase and instead raise the city’s sales tax a penny on the dollar for five years, five sources familiar with the plan confirmed this morning
After a weekend of negotiations between the administration and Council leadership, budget hearings in Council Chambers this morning were canceled as Council President Anna Verna briefed Council members in small groups. Nutter’s embracing of Council’s reliance on sales tax rather than property taxes to close a $1.4 billion gap over the next four years represents a major shift for the administration, which had criticized the proposal.
Council had pushed for a five year sales tax increase, from 7 percent to 8 percent (the state gets 6 cents on the dollar, the rest goes to the city) to avoid Nutter’s temporary but steep increase in property taxes ¬¬– 19 percent over current levels beginning July 1, and 14. 5 percent over current property tax rate in July 2010. Because the revenue to offset the recession over the next two years would not come in quickly enough, Council had proposed borrowing about $240 million, either with a bond or a bank loan, to be spent over two years but repaid over five years.
So what was Pete Matthews really thinking when Mayor Nutter during his March budget speech took aim at the city’s four municipal union leaders, saying, “It’s time for leaders to lead, not follow the screaming masses?”
For the mayor to stand up there and insult the union leaders as he did was ridiculous. I have not spoken to the mayor since,” said Matthews, who leads AFSCME District Council 33, the city’s largest union with 7,200 members.
That was the some of the red-hot rhetoric that spilled from Matthews’ lips this morning as he testified before City Council on next year’s budget proposal. Whatever working relationship Matthews and the mayor had last year seems to have disintegrated — and it was a messsage Matthews was keen on communicating as the union’s contract ticks toward a June 30 expiration date.
If nothing else, they have guts.
At least six of seven members of the city's Board of Revision of Taxes will attend a press conference at the agency's headquarters in the Curtis Center this afternoon at 2 p.m.
Will they resign, as Mayor Nutter requested this morning? Will they be defiant? Stay tuned.
Mayor Nutter has just endorsed Alan Butkovitz in his race to keep his job as city controller.
It is the first endorsement Nutter has offered in a local election since become mayor. He did not rule out weighing into the district attorney's race or those for judge. "At the moment," Nutter said, "this is the announcement I'm making."
Nutter praised Butkovitz for the "voluminous" number of audits he has done, some of which have helped the city save money. He also thanked the controller for working with him on a proposal now in Harrisburg that would save the city money by extending the time to pay pension costs.