Mayor-Elect Kenney Picks Finance, Commerce Bosses

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney revealed on Monday the members of his administration who will be in charge of finance and commerce.

He named Rob Dubow, the current finance director for Mayor Michael Nutter, the city’s chief financial officer. It’s an interesting pick, given how much Kenney’s former colleagues on Council have grilled Dubow during past budget hearings. Then again, Kenney has praised Nutter for keeping the city afloat during the Great Recession, and Dubow was a huge part of that.

Kenney chose another Nutter official, budget director Rebecca Rhyhart, to be his chief administration officer, a new cabinet-level position that will “focus on improving the way the city allocates resources, acquires goods and services, and the way it hires, trains and compensates employees,” according to a press release from Kenney’s team. Read more »

Nutter, Kenney Back Wolf’s Welcome of Syrian Refugees

Jim Kenney and Mayor Nutter. | City Council Flickr

Jim Kenney and Mayor Nutter. | City Council Flickr

The cause of Syrian refugees has become controversial in the wake of last weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris, but Philadelphia’s incoming and outgoing mayors both say they would welcome such refugees to the city.

Mayor Nutter joins Gov. Wolf in supporting the relocation of refugees from Syria to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia,” spokesman Mark McDonald said today in response to a Philadelphia inquiry.

Lauren Hitt, a spokesman for Mayor-Elect Jim Kenney, noted that Kenney had offered a statement supporting Wolf early in the week.  Read more »

Jim Kenney Taps Philly’s 1st-Ever Chief Diversity Officer

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia’s public workforce does not reflect the diversity of the city. Thirteen percent of city residents are Latino, but only 5 percent of city employees are Latino; likewise, though 7 percent of city residents are Asian, only 2 percent of city employees are Asian. Additionally, people of color and women are underrepresented in the best-paying positions in local government.

On Tuesday, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney announced that he is tapping Nolan Atkinson, Jr. to become the city’s first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to address “the barriers that keep the city’s workforce racially and economically divided.”

Atkinson is an attorney who has worked for years help make the legal profession in Philadelphia more diverse. Per Kenney’s team:

Atkinson currently serves as the first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of the Philadelphia office of Duane Morris LLP. Atkinson is also the former chair and a founder of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, Inc., a consortium of law firms and corporations committed to increasing ethnic and racial diversity in Philadelphia’s larger law firms. Atkinson has won many accolades for his work in diversity and inclusion, including the inaugural Diversity Leadership Award from the American Bar Association. Atkinson has also served in government. In 2008, he was appointed to Mayor Nutter’s Advisory Task Force on Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform, and he served for twelve years as a Commissioner of Lower Merion Township.  Atkinson also successfully petitioned to have his great-grandfather posthumously admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, a right he was refused in 1847 due to racial discrimination.

Read more »

The No-Bullshit Guide to Sanctuary Cities

Immigration has been a long-debated issue in American politics, especially in the past decade. However, upon Donald Trump announcing his candidacy for President and calling Mexican immigrants “drug dealers” and “rapists,” the already controversial topic has grown even more contentious.

Most immigration policy is the province of the federal government. But not all. Take sanctuary cities. Loosely defined, these are cities that have decided not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, or to cooperate at least a little less than the feds would like.

Philadelphia is a sanctuary city. Or at least, it has been one.

The status of sanctuary cities has become a point of debate in the presidential contest, particularly on the GOP side. Louisiana Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said that mayors of such cities should “absolutely” be arrested.

Now, six weeks before he leaves office, Mayor Michael Nutter is thinking about rolling back Philly’s status as a sanctuary city. But what exactly does the term mean, and what are the details? Here’s everything you need to know. Read more »

Pro-Immigration Groups Rally Against Nutter’s Proposal to Reverse “Sanctuary City” Policy

Photos by Holly Otterbein

Photos by Holly Otterbein

More than 50 people gathered at City Hall Monday to condemn the Nutter administration’s proposal to reverse an executive order that limits cooperation between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration agents.

“I am deeply disappointed,” said Rabbi Linda Holtzman. “I thought I lived in a city where a mayor might keep his promises. Shame on you, Mayor Nutter.” Read more »

Philly’s Political Elders Lament the Lack of Millennials Running for Office

Photo by Bradley Maule

Photo by Bradley Maule

Mayor Michael Nutter is in that glorious final phase of his tenure where he’s calling things exactly as he sees them. With seven weeks left in office and very little to lose, he’s taking on everyone from mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr to elections chief Anthony Clark to the School Reform Commission.

One of his most intriguing targets has been millennials. Over the last few months, he’s been shouting from the rooftops that too few young people are running for elected office in Philadelphia. “Where are younger people?” he asked at Philly Mag’s ThinkFest last week. “Are they even thinking about running for office?”

He’s even gotten mean about it: “I’m increasingly concerned that many young people are just finding other avenues. And, you know, having 9 million followers on Twitter is not your level of political engagement.” Read more »

WATCH: Mayor Elect Jim Kenney Sings “The Animal Song” at Philly Zoo Gala

Philly mayors like to sing (see here, for instance), and Mayor Elect Jim Kenney is no exception. Last night, he attended the Philadelphia Zoo’s annual Global Conservation Gala, where he treated the audience to a talk/sing rendition of “The Animal Song.” The tune appeared in zoo commercials around the country in the early 1960s promoting a Zoo Key program for kids.

Read more »

Porngate Investigator Steps Down Over Conflict of Interest

In this Sept. 13, 2011, photo, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin poses for photographs with the court's other justices at Philadelphia's historic Old City Hall. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, it was deferring action on explicit emails involving Eakin to the Judicial Conduct Board, which is currently investigating. The court issued a statement that said it was taking that approach based on the recommendation of a law firm it hired to review the email scandal involving Justice Michael Eakin. The law firm said Eakin sent emails that included one depicting a topless woman and others with "purported jokes and banter that are offensive." (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today:

Porngate investigator Robert Graci stepped down after the Daily News revealed that he once campaigned for Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, a/k/a the guy he was supposed to be investigating.

“Maybe State Attorney General Kathleen Kane was right about that old-boys’ network in Pennsylvania politics,” the Daily News reports. “Apparently, it even reaches into the state Supreme Court. Wednesday, the chief counsel for the state’s Judicial Conduct Board stepped aside from an investigation into a Supreme Court justice’s raunchy emails after the Daily News reported that he was a friend of the justice’s and had played a lead role in his re-election campaign.”

All of the women on City Council are holding District Attorney Seth Williams’ feet to the fire over Porngate.

The women of City Council are joining with the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization of Women on Thursday to condemn “the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails” swapped by former state prosecutors who now work for Williams, Philly Mag’s Citified reports. After conducting a review of the email chain this summer, Williams said he wouldn’t fire the prosecutors and would instead only force them to undergo “sensitivity training.” Council members Cindy Bass and Maria Quiñones-Sánchez said this week the prosecutors should be canned. “These people make judgement calls on people’s lives every single day,” said Sánchez. “There’s so much questioning of our judicial system, from the police to the attorney general, and we don’t need to further complicate that with the perception that people making decisions about which cases go to trial think it’s okay to do what they did.” Read more »

ThinkFest Recap: Mayor Nutter Says Jim Kenney Can Be “Even Better Mayor Than I’ve Been”

Philly Mag deputy editor Patrick Kerkstra and Mayor Michael Nutter at ThinkFest.

Philly Mag deputy editor Patrick Kerkstra and Mayor Michael Nutter at ThinkFest.

Did you miss ThinkFest live? Watch it here.

Mayor Michael Nutter said Friday that Jim Kenney can do an “even better” job than he did by expanding upon recent gains in the city, such as the uptick in the high school graduation rate and the decline in homicides.

“He can build on that foundation,” he said, “and be an even better mayor than I’ve been.”

During a wide-ranging discussion with Philly Mag deputy editor Patrick Kerkstra, the topic of the next mayor naturally came up a lot. Nutter said he believes Kenney will be a good leader because he “has that passion for the city.” He said he was able to see what Kenney can do “up close and personal” on City Council. He also praised St. Joseph’s Prep, where the two men went to high school and learned “fundamental core values.” Read more »

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