Mayoral Campaign’s First TV Ad Bought by Special Interests

[Editor’s Note: This is a continuing story that will be updated throughout the day.]

Today marks a turning point in Philadelphia’s mayoral race: The first TV ad is on the airwaves. The spot is a soft-focus introduction to former City Councilman Jim Kenney, “one of Philadelphia’s most progressive voices,” says the narrator.

But Kenney’s campaign isn’t behind the ad. Instead, a labor-affiliated super PAC known as “Building a Better PA” is responsible for it. That makes this a turning point in city politics, too: This appears to be the first time in a Philadelphia mayor’s race that the inaugural TV ad of the season was aired by an outside group, rather than a candidate. In other words, it’s a super PAC, not Kenney himself, introducing the candidate to many voters.

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Michael Nutter Wants 16 Times as Many Police Body Cameras Next Year

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

For the past few months, a police district in North Philadelphia has equipped about 30 cops with body cameras as part of a pilot program. If Mayor Michael Nutter gets his way, police around the city will be provided with an additional 450 body cameras in the coming year.

Nutter has set aside an extra $500,000 in his proposed 2015-16 budget to purchase, store and install the cameras.

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Third Annual United Negro College Fund Mayor’s Masked Ball

uncf-mayors-masked-ball-940x540

On Friday night, Philadelphia hosted its 3rd Annual United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Mayor’s Masked Ball at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The UNCF provides scholarships for 60,000 students attending 900 colleges and universities. It also provides financial assistance to 38 higher-education schools in its network, all of which are historically black colleges and universities. The Masked Award (Mankind Assisting Students Kindle Educational Dreams) honorees this year were Craig L. Adams of PECO, who was the co-chair of the inaugural gala, Joseph M. Casey, SEPTA General Manager, and former school superintendent Dr. Constance Clayton. There were several notables in the audience, including legendary singer Billy Paul, Tuskegee Airman Pierce Ramsey, Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller, First Lady of Philadelphia Lisa Nutter, Mayor Michael Nutter, Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO, UNCF, and Stephanie Humphrey, QVC host and mistress of ceremonies for the evening’s ceremony.
Photos after the jump »

44 Taxes We Pay as Residents of the Great City of Philadelphia

Governor Wolf introduced his budget on Tuesday. And in it he proposed an increase in spending, no pension reform, no long-term deficit reduction and no cuts in costs. And although he’s lowering business and real estate taxes, there are proposed increases in our state income and sales tax. Mayor Nutter introduced his budget yesterday. And he wants a 9 percent property tax increase (oh, and good luck with that). Now the mayoral candidates are talking about a plastic bag tax.

And why not? We Philadelphians are used to taxes. It’s no big deal.

In fact, depending on whether you live and/or work and/or run a business in the city, you might be paying as many as 44 different taxes, fees and tariffs every single year — maybe more! Don’t remember them all? Who could blame you! So here’s a list to refresh your memory. And please let me know if I’m leaving anything out. I’m definitely forgetting something, right? Read more »

The Brief: Michael Nutter’s “Historic” L&I Investment

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Watchdogs have said for years that Philadelphia’s Licenses & Inspections department is dangerously underfunded.

It was a victim of the recession, enduring cutbacks in staff under Mayor Michael Nutter. During his budget address Thursday, Nutter proposed an additional $5.5 million for the department next fiscal year, which would translate into 43 new employees. By 2018, he said L&I plans to boost its staff by 20 percent.

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5 Things Michael Nutter Wants You to Know About His Property Tax Hike

Matt Rourke | AP

Matt Rourke | AP

Mayor Michael Nutter proposed a budget Thursday that would total $3.95 billion, expand the use of police body cameras, most likely eliminate the need for a tuition hike next year at the Community College of Philadelphia, and increase spending on the city’s long-underfunded Licenses & Inspections department.

But all eyes went to only one part of his plan: a 9.3 percent increase in property taxes. Nutter wants to use that to give $105 million to the city’s cash-strapped schools.

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Mayor Nutter Recognizes Gloria Casarez in Final Budget Address

This morning, Mayor Nutter delivered his annual budget address—the last one during his tenure as Mayor of Philadelphia.

Before he got started, he took a moment to recognize Gloria Casarez, the City’s first director of LGBT affairs, who lost her life last fall after a long battle with cancer, and a handful of other female government employees who lost their lives in the last year.

Mayor Nutter at the 2014 LGBT History Celebration at City Hall, Casarez looks on. | Photo by Bryan Buttler

Mayor Nutter at the 2014 LGBT History Celebration at City Hall, Casarez looks on. | Photo by Bryan Buttler

Before we begin, I’d like to have a moment of silence to recognize three tremendous public servants who we lost over the last year: Gloria Casarez, the first Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, Joan Markman, our first Chief Integrity Officer, and Lieutenant Joyce Craig, the first female firefighter to die in the line of duty.

These three extraordinary women were exemplary public servants, consummate professionals and dedicated leaders. Let their lives and their service act as a continual reminder to all of us to do our own jobs better and let us keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

For more specifics on the Mayor’s budget address, head to our News blog.

Councilman Jones: Nutter’s Property Tax Hike Proposal a “Heavy Lift”

Councilman Curtis Jones. Photo | City Council Flickr

Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.; Photo | City Council Flickr

Before Mayor Michael Nutter even gave his final budget address Thursday, there were signs his plan to raise property taxes was on life support.

Nutter is going to propose this morning a 9.3 percent increase in the property tax rate to provide an infusion of cash to the city’s financially troubled schools. The Philadelphia School District is facing an $80 million budget deficit in 2015-16, and has asked the city for an extra $103 million.

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Follow Live: Mayor Michael Nutter’s Budget Address

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Just days after Governor Tom Wolf announced his first state budget — which includes proposals that could completely overhaul Philly’s tax structure — Mayor Michael Nutter is announcing his final city budget this morning at his annual budget address. Among Nutter’s expected proposals are an already-controversial property tax hike to fund public schools. Philly Mag’s Holly Otterbein and Patrick Kerkstra are on the scene and will be providing live updates. Follow along below: Read more »

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