Archive: December, 2012
Call it the new office with the funny name. Mayor Nutter on Monday signed an executive order formally creating the Office of New Urban Mechanics, which will serve as “an internal innovation hub connecting city departments and agencies with outside entities to create, support or pilot small-scale projects to work towards solutions for civic problems,” according to a city press release.
What kind of civic problems? Well, since the Office of New Urban Mechanics has been up and running for a few months already – Monday’s order simply made it official – its co-directors Story Bellow and Jeff Friedman – already can put to a few examples. One is Neighborhow where people can find out, for example, how to get a street or yard tree.
Friedman has been working for the city since 2008, previously working as the Philly 311 Project Manager. He is paid $105,000. Bellows joined Philadelphia in April from Washington, D.C., where she was director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. She is paid $95,000.
Mayor Nutter on Friday appointed a fact-finding group headed by Philadelphia Managing Director Richard Negrin to review reports of problems during the presidential election, including the high number of provisional ballots used by voters.
"On Election Day, there were reports questioning the integrity of the voter registration lists, the supply of provisional ballots, and the preparedness of some poll workers to address new state voter laws," Nutter said.
He said City Commissioners Stephanie Singer, Al Schmidt and Anthony Clark, who oversee city elections, had agreed to cooperate with the fact-finding.
The City Commissioners on Wednesday offered a a look at the initial findings of an internal review of the high numbers of provisional ballots cast in this year's presidential election.
The review by Greg Irving, Acting Voter Registration Administrator for the Commissioners, has not yet reached a conclusion as to why 27,355 voters cast provisional ballots this year, about twice as many as in 2008. Voters cast provisional ballots when their names are not in polling books where they vote.
The high number of provisional ballots in 2012 led to widespread criticism of the three City Commissioners, Anthony Clark, Al Schmidt and Stephanie Singer. They have been trying to figure out what happened.
The president of a local union on Tuesday filed a request in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court for a temporary restraining order to stop the Nutter administration from implementing salary increases and imposing benefit concessions on 856 city employees until the public has time to file objections that would then be heard by the Civil Service Commission.
Michael J. Walsh is president of Local 2186, which represents supervisors in the Philadelphia’s libraries and Health, Human Services and Parks and Recreation departments. Walsh’s filing argues that the pay and benefit changes should have been available for public comment for 30 days and then heard by the Commission.
The Nutter administration says that procedure has never been followed for a pay plan for civil-service employees. Judge Idee Fox will consider the issue Friday.