Bill Would Require “Labor Peace” at City-Subsidized Hotels

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia’s hotel workers might decide to go on strike someday, but they won’t do it on the taxpayer dime if Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. has his way.

Goode last month introduced a bill (below) that requires hotels which receive support from City Hall — either by leasing public land to the project, or through financing assistance — to assure labor peace by having a collective bargaining agreement in place before the project receives approval. The agreement would have to include a “no strike” pledge on the part of the union representing the hotel’s workers.

Goode this week was careful to stress the bill wouldn’t affect hotels undertaken entirely as private projects.

“If there is no (city) financial interest, then it’s not a problem,” he said.

The bill comes at the end of a year in which the Pennsylvania Convention Center — subsidized by taxpayers — sought and got an agreement with most of the unions working at the center. That followed longtime complaints by the center’s leaders that unions were proving problematic in the task of luring and retaining big events to Philadelphia.

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Philadelphia Sued Over City Council Speech Rules

"Justice" engraved on Philadelphia's City Hall

Photo | Jeff Fusco

A Philadelphia man has sued the city in federal court over the public comment rules at City Council meetings.

Patrick Duff, 38, argues city policy on public comment at City Council meetings violates the First Amendment and the state’s Sunshine Act. Duff’s lawsuit says city policy only allows for public comment on topics on the City Council agenda. Duff believes the city must allow citizens to comment on any subject at City Council meetings.

Four years ago, a lawsuit forced the city to have public comment at City Council meetings at all. For the past 60 years, City Council had limited public comments to committee meetings, rather than its general sessions.

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Philadelphia City Council Passes Hate Crimes Bill

Philadelphia City Council today unanimously passed a hate crimes bill that adds additional penalties for criminal conduct motivated by hate for someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The bill was introduced after the assault on a gay couple in Center City last month.

Pennsylvania does not include sexual orientation in its hate crimes law.

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Nutter Slams City Council Over Rejection of PGW Sale in Inquirer Op-Ed

In an opinion piece published in the Inquirer today, Mayor Michael Nutter ripped City Council over its rejection of the deal to sell PGW to UIL Holdings Corporation, a gas company based in Connecticut.

It’s headlined, “Council, do your job on PGW.”

Nutter is particularly incensed that City Council did not even call for a hearing on the sale of PGW. (“What makes far less political sense was Council’s decision to never give the UIL deal a hearing,” our own Patrick Kerkstra wrote yesterday. “It just looks awful.”)

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Council Calling SRC, Teachers Back to Bargaining Table

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

It’s not easy to get unanimity from the Philadelphia City Council. But every single member has signed on to sponsor a resolution asking the School Reform Commission and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to call a truce in their battle and head back to the negotiating table.

“Everybody knows in our city, you’ve got to negotiate,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who introduced the resolution, then got each of her colleagues to sign on as sponsor. “Our school system’s in too much trouble not to negotiate to resolve these issues.”

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Analysis: What the PGW Flop Means

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia’s bid to become the nation’s next great energy hub is a stool built on three legs. The pitch goes a little like this.

“Hey petrochemical and energy behemoths, Philly is the city that loves you back. 1) We’re just 100 miles from the Marcellus Shale, the biggest gas reserve in the nation. 2) We’ve got infrastructure! Ports. Rail lines. Refineries. Proximity to markets. 3) The political climate is warm and welcoming. Come on down. You’re going to get those approvals, you’ve got a political class anxious for jobs and economic development. No undue hassles here!”

On Monday, in rejecting the privatization of the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works, City Council gave a swift kick to that third leg of the stool.

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Councilman Wants to Outlaw Selling Your Public Parking Space

Monkey Parking A Philadelphia City Councilman wants to outlaw a new app that allows you to sell your public parking space to the next driver. Councilman Bill Greenlee says MonkeyParking, already in service in other cities, should be against the law in Philadelphia.

Here’s how MonkeyParking works: You note your public parking space in the app. When you want to leave, your space goes to the highest bidder. If you’re driving and you need a space, instead of circling around the block a bunch of times, you tell MonkeyParking how much you’re willing to pay for a spot and the app directs you to a user nearby who’s about to leave their spot.

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Nutter Still Wants PGW Sale Hearing

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Though seemingly dead for good after a City Council announcement on Monday, there may still be life in the proposal to sell Philadelphia Gas Works to a private company.

Mayor Nutter, for example, hopes the deal can be resuscitated — saying the proposal should’ve received public hearings before a decision was made.
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Councilman Calls for Hearing on Bed Bugs

Photo by Piotr Naskrecki, courtesy of CDC/Harvard University.

Photo by Piotr Naskrecki, courtesy of CDC/Harvard University.

Councilman Mark Squilla is calling for a City Council hearing on bed bugs, saying he’s heard anecdotal evidence they’re becoming more prevalent in Philadelphia, particularly in the city’s rowhouses.

“Neighbors have had bed bugs, and it’s creeping into their properties,” he tells KYW Newsradio, “and those people can’t afford to get the bed bugs exterminated.  If you have a person who is on a fixed income, and they found out they have bed bugs, the cost could be thousands of dollars in extermination fees, not counting materials you might have to buy to encase your mattresses and get rid of some of the stuff you have.”
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