Despite some glimmers of last-minute hope a few weeks ago and Doug Oliver’s endorsement of a sale earlier this week, Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposed deal to sell Philadelphia Gas Works to a Connecticut company for $1.86 billion — already comatose after City Council President Darrell Clarke announced in late October that Council would not touch the matter — has ended not with a bang, but a withdrawal.
In the wake of non-indictments of police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City, protests erupted around the city last night. Photographer Roger Barone captured the tense juxtaposition of the protests and the city’s 21st annual tree lighting ceremony in the City Hall courtyard.
All photos copyright Roger Barone/Talk Radio News Service.
As tenor Justin Gonzalez finished singing his rendition of “Oh Holy Night” from the stage overlooking the massive unfriendly audience at City Hall, he held the final note for as long as his breath could sustain him.
Nevertheless, his voice was no match for the chants, jeers, and “boos” from hundreds of protestors who showed up at Philadelphia City Hall’s annual Christmas tree lighting on Wednesday night to vocalize their outrage over the Michael Brown ruling in Ferguson and, that same day, the lack of indictment of a cop who choked Eric Garner to death in New York. The crowd — whose members held signs that read “Dear White Supremacy: I’m Still Here,” “Police Shooting is Legal Lynching,” and “Stop Killer Cops,” among many others — was in stark juxtaposition to the faux snowflakes, lively Christmas tunes, and children’s choirs that took to the stage.
“Look, we’re here in peace!” said one singer, part of a trio of young females who began their performance by putting their hands in the air as a sign of solidarity with the protestors. The crowd did not buy it.
You can relax, taxpayers: City Hall probably won’t be sending bill collectors after you anytime soon.
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Mayor Nutter has joined with mayors of two dozen other large American cities to offer President Obama support in his efforts to reduce deportations of immigrants residing illegally in the United States.
“The president’s action on immigration will strengthen our cities. It will keep families together, grow our economies and foster additional community trust in law enforcement and government,” the coalition said in a statement. “We are ready — and together we’re rolling up our sleeves to turn this policy into a better reality for millions of hardworking people in the communities we serve.”
Saying it would “make a significant and honorable contribution to our quality of life,” a task force today formally recommended to Mayor Michael Nutter that the city pass a bill requiring Philadelphia employers to offer paid sick leave to workers. (See the report below.)
The recommendation had been expected since Mayor Nutter reversed course over the summer — after vetoing two sick leave bills — and said he would support such a measure, pending a report from a task force on the topic.
“I do not want to put Philadelphia at a competitive disadvantage. However, our city’s economy continues to grow and is stronger than it has been in a long time,” Nutter said in a press release accompanying the task force report. “It was the right time for a comprehensive review of the likely impact of paid sick leave employees, businesses and the entire city.”
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The Inquirer’s Tricia Nadolny has a great look today at efforts to pass a $15 minimum wage in Philadelphia. It probably wouldn’t be universal — City Council wants to protect small businesses from the expense, but is happy to let larger corporations bear the burden — and there are significant legal hurdles to overcome.
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When Mayor Nutter reversed course this year and said he was suddenly in favor of mandating that Philly businesses offer paid sick leave to employees — a policy he had vetoed twice in recent years — he didn’t just sign one of the bills he previously punted: He sent the idea to a task force for examination.
That task force is just about complete with its work KYW reports. But familiar divisions remain over the issue.
When Alan Butkovitz (kind of) exited the mayoral race last week, it was widely taken as a sign he was clearing the way for Council President Darrell Clarke to make a run. But Clarke’s interview with the Inquirer, published Sunday, doesn’t make him sound like a man burning to run for the city’s top spot.