Archive: June, 2011
The final tally on which Council members are going to accept the 1.9 percent cost-of-living raise they are entitled to collect starting July 1 is now available.
We wrote in today's print story, found here, that 10 of the 17 members are returning the raise to the city's general fund or donating the money (about $2,300 for most members) to charity. (Ignore the slight math error early in the story that suggests there are 18 Council members. If Heard in the Hall was good at math, we wouldn't be journalists.)
As of Wednesday, four Council members were taking the raise - Blondell Reynolds Brown, Maria Quinones Sanchez, Frank Rizzo and Frank DiCicco - and three members hadn't yet informed the Council President's office of what they wanted to do with the money.
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It's that time of the year again: The post-belt-tightening-budget season when City Council members, who just agreed for the second straight year to raise property taxes in Philadelphia, must declare whether they will now accept a cost-of-living salary increase for themselves - or not.
Council President Anna C. Verna's office advised members they have until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to decide whether they will (a) indeed accept in their paychecks what this year is a 1.9 percent COLA; or (b) deduct the extra money and return it to the city's general fund or to a pet charity or cause; or (c) accept just a portion of the COLA and direct the rest elsewhere.
Any member who does not respond will simply get the COLA. (With the COLA, the new salary of most Council members would be $120,232, up from $117,991 last year; salaries are slightly higher for the five members of Council leadership.)
Wealthy businessman Tom Knox says he won't run for mayor in November - and has changed his voter registration back to Democrat from Independent.
Knox - who came in second to Nutter in the 2007 mayor's race - had switched to Independent before last month's primary. The reason, he said then, was so he would be positioned to challenge T. Milton Street Sr., Nutter's only rival, in case Street won.
Well, that didn't happen, so Knox this afternoon said he was keeping his word.
Lost in the hustle of Thursday's last Council session before the summer recess (including the passing of the city budget and a property tax hike, plus the mayor's veto of DROP reform) was the final passage of two bills that sparked considerable debate and drew protesters to City Hall.
Both were sponsored by Councilman Frank DiCicco and concerned the economic health of Center City.
One creates a commercial advertising district in Market East, allowing developers to erect digital billboards several stories tall if they invest at least $10 million in the properties. The area east of City Hall has been depressed for decades despite being home to a number of historically significant buildings. Anti-billboard activists and some neighborhood opponents feared a gawdier version of Times Square would be the result.
Newsflash! There IS a mayor's race going on! And there is a Republican party in Philadelphia!
With City Council members poised this morning to give final approval to a property tax hike as a means of funding the city's schools, a handful of Republicans are passing out no-tax flyers at the Northeast corner of City Hall, and some other nearby spots.
Mayor Nutter, a Democrat, backs the property tax increase, though a sugary-drinks tax was his first choice.
Two notaries connected to allegations of fraud in last year's elections for Republican committemen have permanently surrendered their notary licenses after an investigation by the state of Pennsylvania.
Carmella Fitzpatrick, who works for Republican City Committee, and Jeanine DiGiannantonio, who works for the Philadelphia Parking Authority, a haven for GOP patronage jobs, both turned in their notary licenses after an investigation by the state into questionable signatures on petitions in races for Republican Committeeman in May 2010.
Fitzpatrick and DiGiannantonio notarized the petitions during an intense battle for control over the Republican City Committee, run by Michael Meehan, the third generation of his family to have that role. Committemen elect ward leaders, who, in turn elect the party's top leader.
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