Archive: March, 2013
Troy Graham @troyjgraham
One thing was clear from Council’s first day of budget hearings Monday – many of the members believe the administration’s drive to win the right to furlough non-uniformed workers is an unnecessary impediment to negotiating contracts with the municipal unions.
Council President Darrell L. Clarke noted that the city’s five-year financial plan – the official topic of Monday’s inaugural hearing – doesn’t anticipate the need to furlough workers. He also said the unions prefer lay-offs in times of economic stress because members then can collect unemployment benefits.
“I don’t understand why that continues to be a sticking point,” he said. “One, we don’t need them. Two the preference with the unions is if you want to lay me off, lay me off.”
Anne Marie Coyle, one of three dozen Democratic candidates for Common Pleas Court, is the big winner of this week’s judicial sweepstakes. A drawing at the Department of State in Harrisburg gave her the top ballot position for the May 21 primary election, usually a major factor in securing a seat on the bench.
Tracy B. Roman drew the top position among 20 Democratic candidates for Municipal Court, as well as the #2 position for Common Pleas Court.
Here are the full lists, in order of ballot position:
The city of Philadelphia could do more to collect unpaid taxes.
That simple concept emerged during an afternoon of City Council hearings Wednesday on Philadelphia’s tax delinquency problem.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz cited Philadelphia Gas Works as evidence that collections can be improved.
Troy Graham @troyjgraham
A coalition of 21 neighborhood groups is seeking a broad array of information on how the citywide reassessment was conducted.
The group, under the banner of Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers, includes neighborhood associations stretching from Overbrook Farms and East Falls to Kensington and South Philadelphia.
In a letter Monday to the city’s chief assessor, Richie McKeithen, the group asked for information on how the city determined the new assessments that are key to Mayor Nutter’s property tax reform effort, including:
Leaving his cabinet behind to deal with issues like municipal labor contracts, property tax assessments and his new city budget proposal, Mayor Nutter plans to spend the next five days in Florence, Italy, comparing notes on “the creative economy” with a delegation from the U. S. Conference of Mayors and an organization of Italian counterparts.
The full tab for airfare, lodging and meals will be picked up by the Conference of Mayors, at no cost to city taxpayers, said Mark McDonald, the mayor’s press secretary. (Unless you factor in the city’s annual dues to the Conference of Mayors, which ran to $45,569 in 2012, according to the city’s expenditure data.)
At 10 a.m. Thursday – that’s Italian time, not the moment that Philadelphia City Council convenes for its weekly festivities – Nutter will be joining a panel discussion on culture and sports as contributors to economic development. And somewhere during the five-day conference, McDonald said, Nutter will get together with the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, to celebrate its sister-city relationship with Philadelphia, dating to 1966.
Troy Graham @troyjgraham
City Council earlier today held the first of two days worth of hearings on tax delinquency in Philadelphia, spending more than an hour asking questions of city Revenue Commissioner Keith J. Richardson.
The six freshmen members of Council introduced six separate resolutions earlier this year calling for hearings into various aspects of the city’s efforts to collect taxes from delinquent property owners, especially in light of the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), Mayor Nutter’s property tax reform effort slated to come online later this year.
Richardson began with lengthy testimony, lauding the administration’s tax amnesty program and other measure taken in the last two years to step up tax collections.
At least one Philadelphia lawmaker – state Rep. W. Curtis Thomas – is making a bid to save Philadelphia Traffic Court.
Thomas announced a proposal today to turn six Traffic Court judgeships into court masters, who would conduct fact-finding hearings on alleged traffic violations but leave it to a Municipal Court judge to determine whether a driver is guilty or not.
Thomas said he was as angry as anyone else about the Traffic Court’s ongoing corruption problems – most recently, the federal indictment of nine current and former judges for alleged fraud and conspiracy in a massive ticket-fixing operation.
Council President Darrell Clarke said he knew the union protests at Councl Thursday would be loud, but the reality was much worse than he had imagined.
That's saying something from a guy who witnessed John Street duke it out with Francis Rafferty as well as the raucous hearings surrounding the building of the stadiums. “I’ve got to say that the magnitude, I did not anticipate.”
He called it “an unprecedented environment.”