Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 11:25 AM

(NOTE: Previous post had an inaccurate headline. Not everyone needs to hire an attorney to get any sheriff's sale monies they are owed.) 

Former Philadelphia property owners who lost their homes to a sheriff’s sale must claim sale proceeds, if any, individually, Commonwealth Court ruled last week, dismissing a class action suit appeal.

Joseph O’Hara and his company Finn Land Corp., the representatives in the class in the 2011 lawsuit, sued the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office for failure to distribute millions of dollars to former property owners who were owed proceeds. The lawsuit was based on a City Controller’s audit of the sheriff’s office that questioned the use of $53 million in custodial funds. A later forensic audit concluded that the “primary source” of $5.2 million in unclaimed bank balances between 2006 and 2010 were undistributed excess sale proceeds.

POSTED: Thursday, July 31, 2014, 5:07 PM

For all the hype last year over the creation of a land bank, the Philadelphia Land Bank board’s first public meeting Thursday was quite the snoozer.

Gone were the big signs and the yellow t-shirts. In were the bored faces and plain work attire.

Since Mayor Nutter signed the land bank legislation in January —— creating a new quasi-government body whose mission is to return thousands of vacant parcels to productive use —— staff at the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, where the land bank will be housed, has been doing some preliminary work. But the board, an interim one, had not yet had an official meeting. 

POSTED: Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 5:22 PM
Mayor Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke and other officials at the ground-breaking of the 11th and Cecil B. Moore athletic field.

A scrappy North Philadelphia football field that is home to one of the country’s best Pee Wee football teams is getting a $2.5 million makeover.

The new synthetic turf field will serve as the home field of the Blackhawks Athletic Club, which won the 2010 football team won the 2010 pop Warner Pee Wee National Championship, and will also be used by St. Joseph’s Prep sports teams. 

City officials, including Mayor Nutter and Council President Darrell L. Clarke, attended the ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday at the 11th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue field. 

POSTED: Friday, July 25, 2014, 4:13 PM
Mayor Nutter posted this photo on Twitter. "Great conversation with Mayor @Anne_Hidalgo, discussing climate change, bike share, student exchanges and jobs," he wrote.

The news that the Republicans have chosen Cleveland for their 2016 national convention has buoyed hopes of Philadelphia’s tourism infrastructure that the Democrats will select Philadelphia for their convention.

“We think New York is our number one competitor,” Julie Coker Graham, vice president of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Pennsylvania Convention Center Board at its monthly meeting Friday. She said that because the Republicans chose Cleveland, it is unlikely that the Democrats will choose Columbus, Ohio. That leaves Philadelphia, Birmingham, Phoenix and Brooklyn in the running.

The Democratic National Committee’s site selection team, she said, will travel by bus from Brooklyn to visit Philadelphia on Aug. 13 and 14, staying at the Radisson Blu Warwick. If the Democrats do pick Philadelphia for the 2016 event, she said, most of the convention action would take place at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, but the Convention Center would host many caucus meetings.

POSTED: Thursday, July 24, 2014, 11:15 AM
Mayor Nutter posted this photo on Twitter. "Great conversation with Mayor @Anne_Hidalgo, discussing climate change, bike share, student exchanges and jobs," he wrote.

Mayor Nutter and a delegation of Philadelphia business leaders arrived in Paris early Thursday morning for a six-day visit the administration is billing as a “business development trip … focused on promoting cycling, commerce and investment in the city.”

The administration said the mayor will be meeting with his Paris counterpart, Mayor Anne Hildago; professional cycling executives; and chief executives of “a range of French businesses,” including Saint-Gobain, which has its North American headquarters in Valley Forge.

Nutter has taken previous, official trips to London, Tel Aviv and Tianjin, China, and his staff said the Paris voyage “builds on the goals and successes” of those sojourns, which promoted the city as “a world-class destination for tourism and an excellent location for businesses to consider.”

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 10:40 PM
File photo: The large vacant lot at 1801 West Courtland St. is shown in the foreground with the homes on Gratz Street in the background on April 25, 2014. An audit raises the question of whether the city overcharged property owners for clearing vacant lots. (CHARLES FOX/Staff Photographer)

If you were one of hundreds of bad neighbors who let your vacant Philadelphia property get so run-down a few years ago that the Department of Licenses and Inspections cleaned it, sealed it and sent you the bill, here’s a question:

Were you overcharged?

An audit by the City Controller’s Office for fiscal year 2012 found that L & I overcharged at least four property owners by 34 percent for cleaning and sealing their properties. Controller Alan Butkovitz said Wednesday that his office sampled four bills sent to owners -- and found all four were overcharged. Butkovitz said the billings totaled $1,176 when they should have been $878.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 6:32 PM

Just in time for the 2015 election cycle, the city Board of Ethics is looking to close some potential loopholes in Philadelphia’s campaign finance regulations.

Given the “high rise,” in independent campaign contributions and coordinated expenditures nationwide, the ethics board’s director of enforcement Michael Cooke said the board should add specific language to the existing regulations to make clear what counts as a contribution and for what purposes.

Some of the changes suggested at Wednesday’s meeting include:

POSTED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 12:49 PM

Hundreds of young poets from all of the country are descending upon Philadelphia this week for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.

The festival, in its 17th year and a first for Philadelphia to host, kicks off Wednesday evening at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Center for Performing Arts Zellerbach Theatre.

Mayor Nutter and event organizers are hoping that much of the city’s youth come out to watch or participate.

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