Archive: November, 2011
The head of the city’s Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council says he is sympathetic to the objectives of Occupy Philly, but he wants the protesters to move so that he can put some of his 70,000 members to work on the Dilworth Plaza construction project.
“We are in full sympathy with the advocates for fairness that are down on Dilworth Plaza,” Pat Gillespie said.
“We have a dilemma, though, that we have a contractor ready to get started on a project that will employ a significant portion of our members, and unemployment in the building trades has been running at 35 to 40 percent over the last couple of years.”
Also Wednesday, Mayor Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald said the city had closed the entrances to City Hall that abut Dilworth for safety reasons, including a planned “Day of Action” Thursday by Occupy groups nationally that includes a 4 p.m. march in Philadelphia.
Gillespie said he has gone to Dilworth a few times to talk to protesters and understands their desire to protest economic injustice.
With only 140 votes separating GOP at-large City Council candidates David Oh and Al Taubenberger so far, election officials said Wednesday that they would start their final count in the race Monday.
It's not clear how long the final accounting will take. Officials from the City Commissioners office said they are still tracking down 73 cartridges from Tuesday's polling places and also need to count absentee, overseas and military votes.
Both Oh, a lawyer who currently holds the lead over Taubenberger, came to the Commissioners' meeting at City Hall Wednesday.
The race for president of Philadelphia's City Council just got a little narrower.
State Rep. Dennis O'Brien, who won a GOP at-large Council seat Tuesday, said Wednesday he will back Councilman Darrell Clarke for president of that body.
O'Brien said he sided with Clarke over his primary rival for the presidency, Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, because he felt they could work together on key issues. O'Brien is a key advocate for children with disabilities, and he said Clarke had promised he, too, would work to help them.
If that voice on the other end of the line sounds familiar, it just might be because it really is former President Bill Clinton. After bad weather forced him to cancel a recent visit to Philadelphia to rally for Mayor Nutter, Clinton recorded a pro-Nutter phone message that will go to about 200,000 voters.
"He has the vision the leadership and the experience to continue leading your great city," Clinton say sof Nutter in the pitch.
Heard in the Hall is awaiting word on how much the calls cost the Nutter campaign.
The Republican Party has two candidates for city commissioner in next Tuesday’s election – Joe Duda, the 16-year incumbent, and Al Schmidt, who’s been active with an insurgent group critical of the party leadership. So what does the party leadership do with its sample ballots? Schmidt’s name is on there, in the same blue ink used for most of the other candidates. Duda’s name and ballot position are in red ink, standing out from the others.
All a matter of routine, says party leader Vito F. Canuso Jr., whose election as party chairman was overturned by Republican State Committee last year because of various irregularities. Schmidt was his opponent.
“We decided to put the names of incumbents in red ink,” Canuso said. “We always do it that way. The incumbents are the ones who have not tried to stab anybody else in the back, who haven’t violated Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, don’t speak ill of other Republicans.”
Al Schmidt, who is battling incumbent Joe Duda for the Republican slot in the city commissioners’ office, has done two separate mailings trying to tie Duda to the hated DROP program, which provides lump-sum payouts to city employees who sign up and retire within four years. It’s quite a stretch, considering Duda has never signed up for DROP and says he never will, even if re-elected.
Schmidt claims his mailers are legit, because Duda is eligible for DROP and hasn’t signed a waiver with the pension board, disclaiming future interest. But any city employee with 10 years' experience is eligible for DROP, once he reaches age 55 or 60. And under the city pension code, anybody who waives benefits has a legal right to change his mind, pension officials say. So Duda’s vow not to sign up is worth more than the paper Schmidt wants him to sign.
Dennis Cogan, the lawyer for jailed former State Sen. Vincent Fumo, says he wasn’t misleading the Inquirer in May when he said his client no longer controlled the political action commmittee that bears his name.
“He has nothing to do with the PACs anymore,” Cogan said at the time. “He has extricated himself from that world and doesn’t intend to go back to it.”
On Friday, federal prosecutors released a filing aimed at increasing Fumo’s sentence on fraud and other charges. The document contains e-mails from the former senator in which Fumo demonstrably takes quite an interest in the PAC. In the emails, however, Fumo also clearly wants the PAC to stay largely inactive in the political arena.
Joe McColgan, an at-large Republican City Council candidate, picked up $5,000 from Local 98, the Philadelphia electricians' union run by John Dougherty, according to the most recent campaign-finance filing.
Dougherty is said to be backing Council candidates he believes will support Darrell Clarke for Council president. Dougherty and McColgan did not respond to requests for comment on the contribution or on the presidents' race.
Philadelphia Phuture, a Dougherty PAC with a phonetically phunny name, also paid for mailers this week attacking McColgan rival David Oh. Oh did not return a request for comment, but in the past, he has said he has not yet made a decison on the council president's race.