Mayor slaps down City Council vote measure; Council committee approves LGBT legislation

MAYOR NUTTER yesterday rejected a request from City Council that he issue an executive order allowing some city employees time off with pay so that they can vote on primary and general election days.

Council unanimously passed a resolution earlier yesterday asking for the executive order on the basis that roughly 500 first responders and other municipal employees work 12 hours or more per shift or live 30 minutes or more from their workplaces, making it difficult for them to get to the polls.

"Some municipal employees do not have the luxury to go vote," said at-large Councilman Ed Neilson, who sponsored the resolution.

"With their hours being 8-to-8, we're just asking the mayor to be a little flexible with them to make sure they can exercise their right."

Nutter, through spokesman Mark McDonald, said an executive order was not necessary to get city folks to the polls.

"For the very small number of city employees with work schedule issues related to election day, they can discuss with their supervisors any schedule issues so that they can vote without any impact on their pay," he said.

"I am unaware of the councilman talking to the mayor about this issue. If he could identify any workers who have unique circumstances, the administration will certainly work with supervisors and managers to be flexible and accommodating so that everyone can vote," he added.

The primary election for Philadelphia mayor, City Council, commissioners and judges is May 19. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In other business, Council's Committee on Law and Government approved an ordinance that calls for making permanent the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs.

After the full Council and Mayor Nutter approve the measure - which is expected to happen later this month - voters in November will be asked if the city's home rule charter should be amended to establish the office permanently.

"We know that Philadelphia has an international reputation as a city that both celebrates diversity and has no tolerance for intolerance. This bill offers the LGBT community a permanent set and voice at the table," said at-large Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the legislation's sponsor.

The LGBT office was created by Nutter in 2008 by executive order. It could, however, be shut down by a future mayor without the charter change.

The office, according to the city's website, provides services and information to LGBT people through outreach and public education, while advising the mayor and city government officials on the needs of LGBT residents.

 


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