Thursday, November 26, 2015

POSTED: Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 8:02 PM
Comcast Senior Vice President David L. Cohen (right) and John Dougherty, business manager for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, discuss the union's strike at NBC10. (Chris Brennan / Inquirer)

They gathered to cheer Philadelphia Gay News Publisher Mark Segal. But some also came to jeer Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David L. Cohen.

Segal was feted Wednesday by friends at the launch party for his new book, And then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality, at the Independence Visitor Center.

Outside, members of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers protested loudly, with one man shouting into a bullhorn while others passed out fliers. The union represents about 65 camera operators and technicians who went on strike two weeks ago at the Comcast-owned television station.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 10:40 PM

Tuesday was the first time all five mayoral candidates (yes, there are five), took the stage together to discuss their ideas. The debate was rather tame. But there were some interesting and funny comments. Here are some top moments, in no particular order, from the first general election mayoral debate:

  1. Smaller City Council. Jim Foster, an independent candidate and longtime gadfly, said that as mayor he would cut City Council to 10 members and their overall budget. (That would mean Council members would have to essentially vote themselves out by approving to put such a measure on the ballot for a charter change.) Foster also went after city officials and the Democratic party, saying that city departments are “silos of incompetence” and that the city political system “is in ruins,” usually as answers to unrelated questions. 
  2. Urban Republican. Melissa Murray Bailey, the Republican candidate, got some laughs when an audience member yelled he couldn’t hear her and she said “Thanks for wanting to hear me.” The long shot candidate closed out by telling the audience that even if they are Democrats, they can still vote for her. She is a self-described “Urban Republican,” who until very recently was a registered Democrat.
  3. Unions rule. Jim Kenney, Democratic candidate and prohibitive favorite, didn’t have any Old Kenney type comments. But he did blast the employers of the airport cleaners who tried to unionize and were penalized for it. “Their employer fired them, cut their hours and gave them bad shifts,” Kenney said as he spoke of his “unabashed support” for workers unionizing.
  4. Independent mobilization. The go-to answer for Osborne Hart, a Walmart worker and a Socialist Worker Party candidate, was “Independent mobilization.” To the question on how would he convince parents to stay and keep their children in public schools, Hart answered: “There’s plenty resources but it has to be mobilized and that happens through independent mobilization.”
  5. $15 or higher taxes. Wearing tie that emphatically demanded a $15 minimum wage, independent candidate Boris Kindij spoke several times about raising the minimum wage. His plan for businesses is they would either pay the $15 minimum wage and the city reduces its business income and receipts tax (BIRT) or the city increases your BIRT. Oh, and he also wants to create Public Security Public Agency that will employ up to 10,000 people. 

Click here for's politics page.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 2:01 PM

The narrow and long gravel lot at 22nd and Market sat empty Tuesday as two committee members of the June 5th Memorial Park asked for the public’s help in funding a memorial.

The memorial to honor the six people killed and the 13 that were injured when a wall collapsed on the Salvation Army store at that corner on June 5, 2013 has a $1.4 million price tag, Jerry Sweeney, CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust and a committee member of the memorial park fundraising group, said Tuesday. The committee is $400,000 short of the total needed and Sweeney said construction cannot begin until all the money is in the bank.

Nancy Winkler, City Treasurer and mother of Anne Bryan who died in the collapse, said she would like to have the entire $1.4 million by November so that the memorial could be complete by the third anniversary.

POSTED: Friday, September 4, 2015, 3:11 PM
City Hall in Philadelphia. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Philadelphia’s overtime expenses increased for the fourth year in a row.

The city spent $159 million in overtime in fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, according to the city’s fourth quarter report. The total spent was $37.6 million over what had been budgeted. 

Overtime as a percentage of wage and salaries has increased each year since 2011, hitting 10.6 percent this past year.

POSTED: Thursday, August 27, 2015, 10:14 AM
After reading the Controller’s review, Department of Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Carlton Williams called the statement by the inspector “ridiculous.” (FILE: TOM GRALISH / Staff photographer) (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer, file)

As part of the city Controller’s Office ongoing investigation into the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, the office found that overtime was prevalent within the department’s Construction Site Task Force.

The task force, which was created in 2013 following the fatal building collapse at 22nd and Market, spent a total of $130,000 in overtime in 2014, according to a review by Controller Alan Butkovitz. The overtime was used by 17 members of the 30-person task force, with one inspector earning $50,000 in overtime that year.

The recently completed six-page review mostly focused on the demolition contractor that was placed on a city master demolition list months after the illegal demolition of several properties. But Butkovitz said that while his office was looking through thousands of emails regarding the illegal demolitions in Fairmount, the office found emails sent by L&I supervisors implying that overtime was unlimited.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 3:29 PM

The city awarded $23 million more in contracts to minority and female-owned businesses than last year, according to a study released by the mayor’s office Wednesday.

The Fiscal year 2014 Annual Disparity Study analyzes how many city contracts go to minority, women and disabled-owned businesses and the availability of the businesses in different markets.

The city awarded $267 million in contracts to the minority and female businesses representing 29 percent of the contracts for which such businesses are available, the Office of Economic Opportunity reported.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 6:03 PM
Republican Melissa Murray Bailey and Democrat Jim Kenney.

Jim Kenney is ready for his long as his is the only face in the camera's frame.

Kenney, the Democratic nominee for mayor of Philadelphia, had been haggling with NBC10 about camera angles for an upcoming debate, according to campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.

Kenney was fine with close-ups and reaction shots but didn't want the television station to use a "one particular shot, a split-screen close-up" when he or Melissa Murray Bailey, his Republican opponent, were speaking, she said.

POSTED: Thursday, August 6, 2015, 11:00 AM

As I mentioned in today’s Inquirer, the city might have missed a few checks during its recent tax lien sale.

Aside from not realizing that certain properties, including the Fraternal Order of Police’s new headquarters, were under appeal, city officials also didn’t do a thorough check of who was buying the liens.  

One of the top five lien buyers at the June 29 sale was Julio Goncalves, a real estate investor who lives in the city’s Lawncrest neighborhood. He snatched up 16 liens for a total of $111,216. Goncalves, however, is delinquent himself on a few of his properties.

About this blog

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

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