On Thursday I reported that a group of same-sex couples were going to protest Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban by strolling into City Hall to request a marriage license. The whole thing happened this morning, and this is what NBC 10 reports happened to one of those couples, Bob and Bill Sullivan of South Philadelphia:
When I was a rookie reporter making the rounds in small-town Kansas, I returned to the newspaper offices one day and told an older reporter that the fine folks at the Fire Department had shared a cup of coffee with me. The older reporter was livid: “Never take a cup of coffee!” he ordered me.
We were journalists, he said, and journalists shouldn’t take so much as a packet of sugar from the people we covered—no reason ever to give the public the idea that we were compromised in the news we were giving them.
I still think that reporter was perhaps a bit extreme in his outlook—a cup of coffee was never going to buy me off—but I think the impulse was a good one. Serving the public interest (as journalists believe they do) means holding oneself to a higher standard.
Which means it’s a no-brainer to outlaw gifts to Philadelphia city employees.
UPDATE [2/15/2014, 2:05 p.m.): Just got this email update from Bill Sullivan: "We rescheduled the event for Tue., Feb. 18, at 10 a.m. We're going to room 413 for the license at 11 a.m."
UPDATE [2/13/2014, 9:02 p.m.): This event has been cancelled due to weather. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates on when it will be rescheduled.
Tomorrow — on Valentine’s Day, if you’re not keeping track — a group of same-sex couples will convene at City Hall to request marriage licenses.
One of those couples, Bill Sullivan, and his partner of 20 years, Bob, made history when they became the very first same-sex couple to marry in Vermont in 2009. They lived there for a few years as husband and husband before returning to Philadelphia, where they both grew up. “We were never political people,” he says. “But when we moved back to Pennsylvania our marriage became nullified. That’s when we decided to get active.”
Bill Green’s move to head the School Reform Commission means there is now officially an open seat on City Council. The Daily News reports that Council President Darrell Clarke “holds the power to call a special election for someone to finish the last year-and-a-half of Green’s four-year term.”
The Daily News reports today on the Nutter administration’s attempt to change city work rules, noting that city workers get a ton of paid time off. Because they’re city workers.
Look no further than the city of Philadelphia, where the typical municipal worker gets almost 50 days of paid leave and uses an average 38 days per year – more than the average state or local government employee and far more than private-sector workers, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Most city workers get paid for 11 holidays, up to 15 sick days, two to three weeks of vacation and other days for funerals and administrative leave. Longtime employees can get up to five weeks of vacation and 20 sick days. Police officers get a day off for their birthdays.
Police get off for their birthdays! That is the most incredible perk. The police union did a good job in negotiations in that sense, at least. The paper also notes city workers are off for Good Friday.
The State Senate has confirmed at-large Councilman Bill Green as new School Reform Commission chair by a vote of 44-2. Philly’s Vincent Hughes and Chesco/Montco’s Andrew Dinniman dissented. Farah Jimenez, who leads a West Philly non-profit that addresses homelessness, was also confirmed as a new member of the five-person board.
We gave politicians the right to be corrupt. We did it when we gave them the power to pass legislation that benefits no one but themselves. It is a power they flaunt and abuse regularly when they give themselves pay raises, manipulate campaign laws and grant themselves immunity from insider trading laws.
Philadelphia is especially adept at abusing its ability to pass laws that benefit the members. The Council sets its own budget, giving the members cars, expenses, cell phones and staff with no hearings or oversight. And, of course, there is the DROP boondoggle that allowed council members to dip into the city’s pension fund without retiring.
Now Council is about to abuse its power by changing the rules again.
Two weeks ago, the Daily News reported that the pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church, Kevin Johnson, was exploring a mayoral run (i.e. running for mayor). Philly Mag then ran this interview with him, in which he sounded very much like a candidate. This morning he sent an email to supporters declaring he had changed his mind. Here it is.
For those of you who know Kimya and me, you know that our first priority is our family and the second is the congregation at Bright Hope Baptist Church. We take the responsibility of being parents very seriously, and their development is paramount for us.
Last night, I shared with my officers that I will not explore a run for Mayor of Philadelphia in 2015.
While I will continue to serve in various capacities in our great City, at this time, my responsibilities as a father and pastor will be my focus.
I pray God’s richest blessing upon you and your family.KRJ
Sometimes, I like to play the lottery.
Not often. Usually when the jackpot gets north of, say, $200 million. Like everybody else, I start to think of life with money: Buying a nice house, sending the kid to a fancy college, maybe starting a vanity magazine or website where I hire all my writer friends, maybe even hire a personal trainer. Mostly, though, I refrain: I’ve heard the statistics — the ones about how you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than to win the lottery — and figure I’m probably not going to be the person who beats the odds.
So it’s with a certain level of hypocrisy that I offer the two facts and one suggestion for your consideration: