Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s “Peace Not Guns” organization might’ve been nebulous, but the money it received was real — and much more than the councilman has previously admitted.
On June 19th, Philadelphia City Council voted to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, passing a bill introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney. But Mayor Michael Nutter opposes the bill, and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has said that he will continue to make marijuana arrests, even if the bill is signed into law. In the month following the bill’s passing, 264 citizens were charged with the crime.
[UPDATE: 12:07 p.m.] Mayor Michael Nutter has issued a statement praising UIL Holdings for not backing out of the PGW sale, and essentially letting everyone know where the bottleneck is:
“This incredibly important issue is squarely in front of City Council and both the Company and our Administration have been providing voluminous amounts of information to City Council and its consultant, Concentric Energy Advisors,” Nutter said in the statement. “We eagerly await Concentric’s report and the opportunity to present our case for selling PGW to City Council and the public.
“We stand fully prepared to provide Council with any further information or analysis it might need as it conducts its vital and historic due diligence on this matter. We look forward to the introduction of the legislation and the announcement of a schedule of Council hearings. Philadelphians have an absolute right to know the basic details of the transaction and how it will impact them as consumers and also how it will affect the dedicated workforce and retirees of PGW, the fiscal impact on City government and its Pension Fund and the city’s economy.”
Full statement below:
On the eve of a deadline that would allow Connecticut-based UIL Holdingsto back out of an agreement to purchase PGW for $1.86 billion, the Inquirer reports that the studies commissioned by City Council to evaluate the deal will end up costing $522,750. That’s nearly $100,000 more than the $425,000 Council had previously announced it was going to be paying Concentric Energy Advisors. The reason? Council modified its original RFP:
In February, Mayor Michael Nutter announced the sale of PGW for $1.86 billion. But City Council has questions, and didn’t review the sale before the summer recess. That delay matters: Since Council hasn’t taken any action yet, UIL Holdings can back out of the proposed sale after July 15.
Now, of course, the latest twist: City Council is spending $20,000 on radio ads defending the delay. Wait, what?
When I first heard the (now disputed) news that then-Councilman Mike Nutter had (allegedly) tried to fix tickets at Traffic Court, my first thought wasn’t about hypocrisy or injustice or anything like that.
Instead, it was: So what?
This isn’t the right reaction, I know, but mostly because of all the institutional signals involved. State officials disbanded Traffic Court because it was a beehive of corrupt officials making sure their friends never had to pay a speeding fine, and right now they’re prosecuting nine former judges from the court for their participation in the whole mess.
And this is normally the kind of thing I’d hate: One class of justice for the well-connected and another, harsher version for the 99 percent? Let’s go Occupy Wall Street!
Instead I’m … shrugging. And worried. What will Helen Ubiñas think of me?
[UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.] According to Councilman Jim Kenney’s director of legislation, Jim Engler, as per the Philadelphia Charter, Mayor Nutter does not have to take action on the just-passed marijuana decriminalization bill until Council is back in session in September. (The mayor has the option to sign or veto the bill, or do nothing which would also result in the bill becoming law without his official endorsement.)
“We’re writing a letter to the mayor asking him, since the voice of council has been heard and the bill has been approved by more than 12 members, that he begin implementing the bill and policy change as soon as possible,” says Engler.
The bill includes a three-month time period before it becomes law, which Engler says is something that is normally done with bills that require implementation. “Instead of waiting and twiddling our thumbs all summer long, we’re asking that if he’s going to make a decision one way or another, he should let us know now.”
[Original: 2:36 p.m.] You can breathe a little easier today, stoners, and not just because you probably are into vaping now. Philadelphia City Council voted today to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of weed. Even the heaviest stoners rarely buy more than an ounce at a time, so this bill is good news for Philadelphia potheads from the casual smoker to the wake-and-bake stoner.
The bill was first introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney in May. Under Kenney’s bill, Philadelphians caught with up to an ounce (30 grams) of marijuana would not be arrested. After they paid a $25 fine, they’d have the charge expunged from their record. (Presumably, their weed would also be confiscated.) Since June 2010, Philadelphia has treated possession of up to an ounce of weed as a summary offense punishable with a $200 fine and a three-hour class on drug abuse.
On Thursday, Philadelphia City Council officially passed legislation authorizing a bike share program in Philadelphia. A Council committee had approved Philly’s bike share program earlier this month.
“I am thrilled with the passage of this bill. Bike sharing is a huge win for Philadelphia on so many levels: health and wellness, tourism and hospitality, the environment and sustainability and so much more,” Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said in a statement. “There is a huge opportunity for innovation; by studying what has worked in other cities, Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to implement the most comprehensive, effective bike sharing program in the nation.”
When City Council ends its spring session today, it will leave one major piece of unfinished business behind: Whether or not to approve the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to a Connecticut company.
As CBS Philly reports: “With Council adjourning today until the fall, that means Council won’t be holding a public hearing on the PGW sale until long after July 15th, the date on which the prospective buyer, UIL Holdings of Connecticut, could opt out of the deal.”
Councilman Jim Kenney says he’ll try on Thursday to get a vote on his bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.