Nutter, FOX News, and the SEPTA Strike

The mainstream press across Philadelphia is turning commuters against transit workers. Instead of practicing journalism and explaining to the public why transit workers have gone on strike, they have instead given a platform to one side of the contract negotiations and helped the Mayor pit working people across the city against the drivers and engineers who get us to work everyday.

aNUTTER failure

Although Chicago rivals Philadelphia in corruption — the Windy City is opposed to casinos and yet was able to transform their waterfront and garner national attention without gambling. Even in tough economic times Chicago’s notoriously corrupt Mayor Daley is clear on his views about casinos in Chicago. He recently held a press conference to dispell any rumors that sites identified for Chicago's Olympic bid might now be developed into casinos ....

MAYOR DALEY: “I don’t know why everybody is going around thinking that casinos are the answer to all the problems of society”
REPORTER: “So no way, no how?”
MAYOR DALEY: “I would be against it completely”

Legal or not - Do BRT payments violate the law?

It’s a question that Parents United for Public Education, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, and the Education Law Center are considering right now.

At issue is this section of state law, 72 PS 5341.21, which states that responsibility for the expenses of the BRT lies with the county:

§ 5341.21. All salaries provided for in this act and the proper expenses of the board shall be paid out of the treasury of the county.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association said they aren’t aware of any other county in the state which charged a school district for property tax assessments. Why us?

What Stinks About Philadelphia...? Is it the Economy or Attitudes?

What Stinks About Philadelphia...? Is it the Economy or Attitudes?

Smiling is infectious. You can catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today...I started smiling too!

I always loved that poem. Makes you wanna smile, and it is so true. Yet I find, in Philadelphia, this does not seem to hold the same truth. The streets are talking and Philadelphia is not the city that loves you back...

The City of Brotherly love has been named one of the most bloodiest cities, with murder rates and job-loss on the rise, no wonder everyone is on edge. I wonder, is or will Philadelphia ever be a great American city? Are our attitudes towards one another keeping us stagnant, and segregated? Or is it the challenges of the preceding economical conditions and we are stuck in a perpetual cycle?

When Budget Choices Arise, Think Long Term

The current administration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art has been indifferent to our calls for justice (except for granting our folks up to three days of paid sick leave in Sept 2008). I've dealt with a lot of institutions in our city who are short changing workers and I can say, without a doubt, that all of them have acted more reasonably. However, if you look back at the history of the guards at the museum, it becomes more clear where they have gotten this attitude from.

Our city's last major budget crisis occurred in 1992. Mayor Ed Rendell had just won his election and started his first days in office with a city that was, much like today, in deep fiscal trouble.

He was fighting to take away a lot from the city's municipal workers. The unions fought hard and even went on strike. Mayor Rendell was able to get many of the concessions that he wanted. The unions lost much and to this day, the city union leaders vow, "never again."

Reformers Should Attack Fumo's Policy Legacy Not Just His Sentence

Nutter came out swinging today against the sentence of Fumo and Arnao. Nutter, like many pundits, focuses on the punishment rather than the crime and in doing so continues to follow rather than lead the public in the necessary efforts to root out corruption and patronage in our city.

Rather than working towards eradicating poverty and bridging the many divides that exist in Philly Fumo worked to enrich himself and his friends. His reverse Robin Hood approach, best exemplified by the Gaming Act and the proposed casinos in Philadelphia, has done nothing to improve our schools, our quality of life or our economy. Instead Fumo's approach to policy was guided by a machine politics built on a foundation of corruption and patronage, the very things Nutter championed against as a candidate.

Mr. Nutter Goes to Harrisburg

It's Our Money's Ben Waxman had a nice set of factors that might make the sales tax hike get accepted in Harrisburg called "Selling the Sales Tax," including my favorite weird rationale that started with Mrs. Verna: the higher rate will help business elsewhere.

Who thinks this will pass? Why do people think the silence has been deafening on this phase of the process? And hey, Ben, who the heck is CleanUpPhilly?

Where do we go from here? Down to the lake I fear.

For the record this is my screed on the sales tax issue right now.

The question unasked in all of this is: How in the face of declining receipts at a 7% rate, will more revenue get collected at a higher 8%? State-wide, receipts from the sales tax dropped $100 million below estimate, to about $600 million. In Philly itself the decline is 6.7%.

City Leaders: Take the BRT off the School District payroll

With the news that the Mayor and City Council are in a fuddle over what to do with the Bureau of Revision of Taxes, here's one place to start:


Why is it relevant to the situation before the city?

  • According to the District's FY10 budget book (p. 332), the BRT expenses have actually increased this year by 17% and will again next year a nominal amount. Their behavior can't be rewarded.
  • The School District houses 80 employees, between a third and 40% of the total number of BRT employees. That's a sizeable figure.
  • Because city ethic laws prohibit political hires, many of the most political people on the BRT land on the school payroll - like ward leader Donna Aument, or "clerks" Helyn Cheeks, David Shadding, and Lorenzo McCray all of whom were mentioned by name in Monday's unbelievable "BRT serves as political jobs bank" story. In fact, according to our studies, at least 40% of School District employees, hold political positions as ward or committee leaders.
  • Putting them back onto the city payroll clears a $4.5 million burden on the schools - AND helps offset the fact that the city is delivering $10 million less in funds to the schools anyway - AND forces the political hires off the BRT payroll or loses them the plum political assignments that appeared to be the primary qualification for "clerkship."

There's no question something needs to be done about this agency - especially and because of the Mayor's proposed property tax hike and the Actual Value Initiative. But calls from one extreme (abolish the BRT!) to another (let's wait!) shouldn't hide the fact that one move could strike a quick blow to the BRT's system of operation.

What happened behind closed doors at the School District?

(Cross-posted at the Notebook's blog)

Anytime the School District has to summon a line-up of politicians to testify on its behalf, you know something’s up.

On Wednesday night, a group of political heavy-hitters opened the School Reform Commission meeting to urge the SRC to vote in favor of the District’s controversial strategic plan – Imagine 2014. Meanwhile CEO Arlene Ackerman issued dramatic statements that emphasized just how much pressure the District was exerting on the SRC for its vote:

"Tonight is the night that we demonstrate to [children] that we care . . . Tonight is the night the School Reform Commission acts on behalf of all of our children," Ackerman said during the meeting, which drew a capacity audience to the District's headquarters on Broad Street near Spring Garden.

And vote they did, 4-0 with hardly a question asked. Not one clarifying remark was made by a single commissioner to explain why each had voted on a plan that had generated lukewarm enthusiasm and enough controversy to result in last-minute plan adjustments, community meetings, a new budget, and political muscling.

Which makes one wonder: what happened behind closed doors to put the muzzle on the SRC?

“And now for our next trick”: City leaders on using casinos to make government irrelevant

After all, last fall’s show about making the Gallery the sworn choice for a Center City slots joint was a tough act to follow. No plan, no design, no studies, no financing, but Council was able to ram through rezoning a 16-square block area before they could blink.

A city planning commission vote was such a rubber stamp at least two Planning Commission members voted not to oppose the project by shrugging their shoulders. After 1,000 people marched in the streets and 60 citizens gave five hours worth of testimony at a packed Saturday Council hearing, Council committee members unanimously voted to move a motion forward and left the room before we had picked up all the signs and banners from the seats. Council acted similarly in waiving requirements to speed up the final casino zoning vote. Except for a brief comment by Councilman Curt Jones Jr. and a classic reprimand by Council President Verna – “nothing you say can change this vote” – nothing referenced the concerns that a distraught community had raised for weeks. The same held true for the Mayor when he came in on a Sunday morning to sign the legislation for the Gallery zoning into law, less than 24 hours after meeting with community members.

So how can City leaders possibly top that?

Let’s review the huddle conversation.

School Chair Out? Politics All In for Philly Schools

In a shocking turn of events, both the Inquirer and the Daily News are reporting that School Reform Commission Chair Sandra Dungee Glenn may be off the SRC. Media reports say that she may be replaced by attorney Robert Archie.

A few weeks back, on the Public School Notebook’s blog, I wrote about the baffling secrecy and lack of transparency around choosing the members of the School Reform Commission, the city/state oversight body for the Philadelphia public schools.

In fact, a School Reform Commission appointment is probably one of the least transparent processes in the School District of Philadelphia. Decided upon in backdoor rooms, at the sole discretion of either the Governor or the Mayor, lacking any written set of responsibilities and expectations, and largely absent public standards for avoiding ethical and financial conflicts of interest, the Commission appointments have long baffled most parents and education observers.

Unfortunately, if true, the departure of Sandra Dungee Glenn won't do much to alleviate those concerns. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Nutter Is Wrong to Reverse His Position on Casinos

Michael Nutter had it right when he was a candidate. He not only actively supported keeping casinos out of neighborhoods he rightly stated that casinos are bad economic development and that he would not use their revenue for government services, no matter how worthy these services are. As a candidate and in his first year as Mayor, Nutter was poised to become a champion, to stand up to the predatory gambling trade and the corrupt governor, Senator, legislature and Supreme Court that has been pushing for years to make Philadelphia the largest US city to host casinos.

Deux Credit: Mayor Takes on Tax Delinquents

Following up on Brady's post ("Due Credit") on the ACORN action (and it looks like he beat me to it this morning, as I was typing) against the Eagles for the $9.6+ million owed in back luxury box revenue, I wanted to post on Mayor Nutter taking it to another set of tax deadbeats

Syndicate content