Council Won’t Finish PGW Sale Review Before Recess

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.”

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Clock Is Ticking on PGW Sale

Mayor Nutter wants action. City Council won’t be rushed.

Whether or not the mayor is an irresistable force, the council certainly is proving to be an immovable object. Faced with a July 15th deadline for the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works — after which, proposed purchaser UIL Holdings can simply walk away — the Council has responded by … not really responding. (UIL has not said if it will walk away.) Council President Darrell Clark says a full review is more important than externally imposed deadlines.

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Who Didn’t Get Money Because Kenyatta Johnson’s Peace Not Guns Did?

K-Johnson-Peace-Not-GunsAs reported by both AxisPhilly and the Philadelphia Daily News, Kenyatta Johnson is in a bit of hot water (and even more this morning). His “organization” Peace Not Guns [PNG] (“It’s just a concept, really”) was representing itself and soliciting donations as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, when in reality it had never received such designation, and had in fact never filed the necessary IRS forms to do so. Johnson’s chief of staff, Christopher Sample, admitted as much to AxisPhilly. “There are no financials for it at all … We don’t raise any money for it.” But that’s not true: PNG was able to secure a number of donations, both financial and in-kind.

As a grant writer with nearly a decade of experience, I found the story to be deeply troubling, especially because Johnson claims to have completed the “Governing for Non Profit Excellence Certificate Program” offered at the Harvard School of Business. The remains of the Peace Not Guns website (tip of the hat to Philadelinquency) adds that he focused on “board leadership and development and strategic planning and performance management.” It is very difficult for me to believe that a man with these credentials simply forgot to file the tax forms necessary to operate legally, as Johnson claims. (As an aside, I called the Harvard Business School to confirm Johnson’s receipt, but citing privacy, they would neither confirm nor deny. At press-time, my request to Councilman Johnson’s office for a copy of the certificate has been unanswered.)

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Committee of 70 Presses Council for PGW Sale Hearing

Just a few weeks after its first attempt, the Committee of 70 has renewed its campaign to get City Council to hold a hearing on the proposed PGW sale before it recesses for the summer. Why? Because the proposed buyer could, reportedly, walk away from the deal on July 15th — and the Committee doesn’t want to see the deal scotched without going through an actual public process.

Here’s the text of a letter to Council President Darrell Clarke, just released by the Committee:

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City Bill Protects Breastfeeding Mothers

CBS Philly reports City Council is ready to pass a bill that strengthens protections for nursing mothers:

Under the measure, it would be against the law for a Philadelphia employer to not accommodate a woman’s need to lactate or express breast milk at work. That means companies must provide nursing mothers with the appropriate time and space to pump while on the job.

“No one would prepare a meal in a bathroom; therefore, women should not be expected to express milk in an unsanitary environment like a bathroom,” said Dr. Esther Chung, the medical director of the Newborn Nursery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

A committee approved the bill Monday; it now heads to the full council for vote.

Mayor Nutter Harshes Our Mellow

CBS Philly reports that Mayor Nutter stands in the way of a marijuana decriminalization bill being promoted by Councilman Jim Kenney. The bill would make possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana — about an ounce — a simple “code violation,” punishable only by a $25 fine.

Officers would still have the discretion to make an arrest, though, and that’s the basis of the Nutter Administration’s objection.

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Council Committee Authorizes Bike Share Bill; System to Start With 60 Stations in Spring 2015

Before a crowd of bicycle pin-clad enthusiasts, City Council’s Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities held a public hearing today on a bill authorizing our first ever bike share, which is scheduled to come in spring 2015.

Headed by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the purpose of the hearing was to authorize the city to enter into an agreement with Bicycle Transit Systems, a Philly based company, to plan and operate a bicycle sharing program, and with B-cycle to provide bicycles, stations and tech platforms. The system will initially boast 60 stations spanning locations like the Navy Yard and Temple.

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Council Will Consider PGW Sale on Its Timeline — Not the Mayor’s

CBS Philly reports that the City Council will adjourn for the summer on June 19th without deciding whether to approve the sale of Philaelphia Gas Works to a Connecticut company — even though the company can, under contract, walk away from the deal if it’s not finalized before July 15.

Council President Darrell Clarke said that deadline was agreed to by Mayor Nutter and the company, UIL Holdings. The council had no input. And that’s not the only problem, he says.

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Report: Councilman’s Nonprofit Is a “Phantom”

AxisPhilly is raising questions about Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s “Peace Not Guns” nonprofit. The organization’s site “also states that it is a registered 501(c) 3, which means that it has permission from the federal government to raise and spend money without anyone—either donors or the organization—having to pay taxes.”

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