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Archive: June, 2009

POSTED: Thursday, June 18, 2009, 10:22 AM

Mayor Nutter's latest pick for the Philadelphia Board of Ethics appears headed for confirmation as a City Council committee gave the Rev. Damone B. Jones Sr. unanimous support this morning.

Jones, pastor of Bible Way Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, appeared sympathetic to Council complaints that the Ethics Board is too focused on penalizing elected officials for ethics missteps, which sometimes involve technical issues. Jones said he would focus on preventing ethics violations with education to avoid recent controversies.

"There's supposed to be a training component that should be...rather intense, so we can be proactive rather than reactive," Jones said.

POSTED: Thursday, June 18, 2009, 10:13 AM

Mayor Nutter's latest pick for the Philadelphia Board of Ethics was confirmed by City Council this morning.

The Rev. Damon Jones Sr, pastor of Bible Way Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, appeared sympathetic to Council complaints that the Ethics Board is too focused on penalizing elected officials for ethics missteps, which sometimes involve technical issues. In testimony before a Council committee prior to the vote, Jones said he would focus on preventing ethics violations with education to avoid recent controversies.

"There's supposed to be a training component that should be...rather intense, so we can be proactive rather than reactive," Jones said.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 2:53 PM

Not to be alarmist, says a city official, but if you are a non-union city employee you might want to reconsider your summer plans.

With contracts expiring July 1 with four municipal unions, city Managing Director Camille Barnett is planning ahead and sent this email to city employees. Those who would be affected include 2,831 exempt employees - such as those who work directly for Mayor Nutter - and about 900 others who are not represented by any union.

Here's the email:

POSTED: Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 3:46 PM

In hopes of saving $500 million over 30 years, Mayor Nutter plans to send legislation to City Council tomorrow - which is Council's final session before the summer recess - that would create a two-tier pension system for union employees.

Under the proposal, which Nutter alluded to in his budget speech in March, new city workers hired as of July 1 would be enrolled in a pension program that is a hybrid between a defined contribution and defined benefit plan. All current municipal union workers participate in a defined benefit plan. The change means new hires would have a lower level of benefits, although they could increase what they get by putting in more of their own money.

Council will not vote on the plan tomorrow; in fact, no vote could occur until the fall.  If approved, it could become retroactive to July 1.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 3:18 PM

A week after the Eagles were ordered to pay the city $8 million, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court has told the city it must now send the team $5 million. The ruling puts to rest a dispute stemming from a 2001 pre-season game, which was canceled due to poor field conditions at Veteran's Stadium. Afterward, the Eagles withheld payment of $8 million in revenue owed the city, claiming the city's failure to keep the field in decent condition cost the team money. The city sued, and the team countered with a lawsuit of its own.

“I am pleased that this matter has finally been concluded," Mayor Nutter said in a statement. "Just over a week ago Judge Sheppard ordered the Eagles to pay the City $8 million and today he has ordered the City to pay the Eagles $5 million, resolving both pieces of this case. I look forward to continuing to work with the Eagles as partners in the community to improve the lives of Philadelphians in neighborhoods across this city. Finally I wish them the best in the upcoming season.”

The team also appears happy to finally put the matter to rest.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 11:06 AM

Mayor Nutter is in Harrisburg again today, walking the state Capitol hallways with city Finance Director Rob Dubow.

Their goal - as it was in at least two prior visits in as many weeks - is to convince Pennsylvania lawmakers to give a nod to a proposal to increase the city sales tax by one percent for five years. They also want lawmakers to approve two pension-related changes. Together, those actions would balance the budget that Council passed and Nutter signed.

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 4:56 PM

The battle lines have been drawn on the transfer of the Foxwoods Casino plan from the South Philadelphia waterfront to the Strawbridge & Clothier building at 8th and Market streets. Casino Free Philadelphia founder Jethro Heiko once worked alongside City Councilman Frank DiCicco to get Foxwoods off the waterfront. The uneasy allies are allies no longer, as indicated by this exchange on YoungPhillyPolitics.com in which DiCicco's lawyer -- that would be his son, Christian DiCicco -- demands that Heiko apologize for "malicious, false and defamatory statements." 

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 4:23 PM

The anti-casino movement, like 'em or not, has always shown intself to be resourceful, witty, and sometimes very effective. Here's their latest tact -- Casino Free Philadelphia and the No Casinos in the Heart of Our City Coalition will open up an office at 718 Market Street -- within a block of Foxwoods' proposed site at the old Strawbridge & Clothier building in the 800 block of Market Street. The anticasino-istas will offer a "circus" as an opening celebration on June 25, complete with "The Incredible Two-Faced Mayor" and "City Council Contortions."

The office even has a name -- The No Slots Spot.

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Troy Graham and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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