Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two sets of city gift rules creating confusion

The Nutter administration fears there could be confusion among city workers over which gifts rule to follow. City Council passed its ordinance Thursday that limits non-monetary gifts at $99 per donor per year but the mayor's executive order bans all gifts.

Two sets of city gift rules creating confusion


City sanitation workers (and other employees under the administration): No, you may not take candy or anything of value as a gift for doing your job.

The Nutter administration fears that this message might have been lost when City Council passed its ordinance Thursday that limits non-monetary gifts at $99 per donor per year.

In 2011, the mayor signed an executive order that prohibits any city employee in the executive and administrative branch (translation: all city employees not working for city council or the row offices) from soliciting or accepting any gift —- anything of value, including gratuity, favor, entertainment, food, drink or loan —-from anyone who does business with the city, whose activities are regulated by the city, is seeking legislative action or whose interests may be affected by the employee’s official duties.

So, Mayor Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald took issue with Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco’s comment in our story today on council passing an ordinance Thursday that bars city officers and employees from receiving or seeking any cash but allows them to receive non-monetary gifts up to $99.

“If I want to give [to] my trash guys, there’s a limit,” Tasco said. “But no one is giving out $99; they probably give candy or something to say thank you.”

McDonald said Tasco was wrong because the sanitation worker could not accept such a gift.

Tasco’s spokeswoman Crystal Jacobs said the councilwoman was not thinking of the mayor’s executive order when she made her comment and that she was trying to make the point that the new legislation would now “make it clear what city employees can and cannot accept.”  

“What happens when he leaves?” Jacobs said, referring to the mayor’s executive order .

Once Nutter leaves office, the next mayor could rescind the executive order.

But until then, there will be two sets of rules and city administration employees must abide by the mayor’s stricter version of the rules.

The city’s new chief integrity officer, Hope Caldwell, said she will be meeting with the city’s largest departments such as sanitation and license and inspection to explain that neither deputy mayors nor trash collectors can accept any gifts.

“When you have two different set of rules and they collide, yes, there’s going to be confusion,” Committee of Seventy vice president Ellen Kaplan said.

 Click herefor's politics page.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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