Archive: March, 2013
Now that New York is on the verge of approving mandatory paid sick leave for workers, what will happen in Philadelphia?
For the second time, Philadelphia City Council passed a bill requiring companies to pay workers when they are sick. The first time, Michael Nutter vetoed it, and the bill’s sponsor, Councilman Bill Greenlee, could not gin up enough votes for an override.
In its most recent testimony on the bill, Nutter administration officials maintained their position that while they support paying workers when they are ill, they think it’s unwise for Philadelphia to pass such legislation in isolation when surrounding suburbs do not require it.
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The field of Democratic candidates for vacancies on Philadelphia courts has shrunk significantly, with 20 lawyers giving up their races for Common Pleas Court or Municipal Court, or both, after getting low ballot positions in the random drawings conducted by state election officials last week.
The withdrawals leave 25 attorneys going after six nominations for Common Pleas Court, and a dozen competing for three vacancies on Municipal Court.
Another man is dipping his toe into the pool of potential candidates in the 2015 mayor’s race, and it’s a familiar name -- former City Councilman Frank Rizzo, son of the late, legendary cop-turned-politician who served as Philadelphia mayor from 1972 through 1979.
“I’m going to explore that possibility and maybe get myself involved in that next mayoral primary, as a Democrat,” Rizzo said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I have spoken to some people about it and I was received very well.”
Rizzo, who turned 70 in early March, was a Republican Council member from 1996 through 2011, winning one of the two Council-at-large seats reserved for non-Democrats. (That’s not how it reads in the City Charter, but that’s how it’s worked since Democrats took control of the city in the 1950s.)
Michael Williams, an attorney and former minority-contracting official in the Street administration, pulled out of the race for city controller Wednesday and declared his support for incumbent Alan Butkovitz.
“Our city faces difficult decisions regarding Actual Value Initiative (AVI) property tax increases, labor contracting negotiations and streamlining or eliminating bureaucratic red tape,” Williams said in a press release announcing his decision. “Alan clearly shares my passion for all the issues that are important to me. I know that he is the only candidate who will make these issues central to his campaign.”
Butkovitz has been a strident critic of the property tax reassessments mailed out last month by the Nutter administration and spoke in March at a labor rally where Mayor Nutter was excoriated for asking the state Supreme Court for permission to impose contract terms on 6,800 members of AFSCME District Council 33.
Troy Graham @troyjgraham
In a budget hearing today, Council members lobbed at administration officials a number of questions skeptical of the citywide reassessment key to Mayor Nutter’s property tax reform effort.
Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr. went so far as to label the process of assigning a market value to each of the city’s 579,000 parcels a “wild-assed guess.”
And Council President Darrell L. Clarke, using the example of a Francisville community leader whose home was assessed at $455,000, told the Office of Property Assessment’s chief assessor, Richie McKeithen, “You’re basically speculating.”
The 2013 Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic will start and end at the Manayunk wall but will skip the Art Museum and Ben Franklin Parkway in favor of a more compact course.
But at least the June 2 race will actually happen, surviving a threat to its existence when previous organizers could not find a coprorate sponsor. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and other civic leaders organized to save the iconic event, famed for its leg-burning climb up Manayunk’s hills, recruiting Parx Casino and New Penn financial as sponsors.
The race will end atop Lyceum Ave., part of the steep climb known as the Wall, which organizers hope will provide dramatic finishes for the crowd.
For the first time in the race’s history, prize money will be equal for men and women racers at $30,000 each.
The women's race begins at 8:30 a.m. and consists of five laps of the 12-mile circuit followed by the men's 10-lap, 120 mile race at noon.
Riders will still cycle along Kelly Drive and through Fairmount Park, but the abbreviated course aims to consolidate crowds and reduce city charges for closing streets, police overtime and cleanup.
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Former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo’s palatial Spring Garden mansion nearly quadrupled in value under the city’s new property assessment system.
Philadelphia’s assessors now say the 27-room Victorian brownstone is worth $2.6 million, up from just $675,000 under the old system.
The new assessments don’t take effect until 2014, and it’s still not clear what the tax rate will be. But if the city taxes properties in 2014 at 1.32 percent with a $15,000 homestead exemption, as Mayor Nutter has proposed, Fumo’s tax bill would rise from $21,105 to $33,673.
Besides the comeuppance for Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who promised us an early spring, Monday’s modest snowstorm represented money in the bank for the city treasury – a reminder that the city has saved money on snow removal this year because there was so little snow to clear off the roadways.
City budget director Rebecca Rhynhart put a number on it -- $4 million. That’s what the city budgets each year to hire private contractors to clear especially-heavy snowfalls from city streets, when there’s too much snow to be handled by the city Streets Department. The city spent its budgeted amounts this winter for salt and Streets Department overtime, Rhynhart said, but there was no need to bring in private snow plows. The $4 million budgeted will flow directly to the city’s year-end balance on June 30 -- as long as the city endures no major snowstorms between now and then.
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