The Brief: Carpenters Tell Democrats to Steer Clear of Convention Center

Plus, the first televised mayoral debate is tonight.

1. The Philadelphia carpenters union is asking Democrats to stay away from the Pennsylvania Convention Center during the party’s national convention here next year.

The gist: Last year, four labor unions signed onto new work rules at the convention center by management’s deadline. The carpenters union was not one of them, and it has been locked out ever since.

A spokesman for the carpenters explained that union leader Ed Coryell’s letter to Democrats is an attempt to ask “our allies to stand with [us].” Pete Peterson, a spokesman for the convention center, countered that carpenters union leadership is growing “desperate” and “just saving some face.” He also said the convention center has already scheduled events as part of the Democratic National Convention.

Why it matters: When Democrats were eyeing Philadelphia as a potential site for the DNC, observers speculated that they might pass because of labor strife in the city. Televised images of unions picketing outside of DNC events wouldn’t look too great for Democrats. The carpenters’ letter makes one wonder: Is that a possibility now? Or is Coryell “just saving some face” with his members? Or is he simply trying to use the upcoming DNC as leverage to get his guys back to work?

2. For the first time this season, a mayoral debate will be broadcast on live TV.

The gist: It will air tonight at 7 p.m. on NBC10. It’s the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s debate. All six Democratic mayoral candidates are invited, and they will be asked to “address issues critical to the business community.” Jim Rosenfield will moderate.

Why it matters: Between this debate and the kickoff of political ad season, the general public should finally start tuning in — somewhat, at least — to the Philadelphia mayor’s race. We wouldn’t be surprised if candidates tossed out a couple new ideas tonight to impress viewers. Also, pay close to attention to which candidates attack others. It may be an indication of who they see as occupying the same political “space.” We’re betting that Nelson Diaz will go after Jim Kenney (to try to chip away at his support among progressives), while Kenney and Lynne Abraham will go after each other (because they appeal to the same white rowhouse voters), and Milton Street (if he attends) will go after everyone (because he’s Milton Street).

3. Shocker: None of the mayoral candidates back Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposed property tax hike.

The gist: Nutter wants to raise property taxes by 9 percent in order to give $105 million to Philadelphia’s cash-strapped school district. The Democratic mayoral candidates have other plans (that don’t involve massive property tax increases) to provide extra money to the schools.

Why it mattersTom Ferrick lays out the proposals offered by the mayoral contenders. He says “all of them assume that the mayor’s office comes equipped with a magic wand to make a reluctant City Council and a suspicious state Legislature suddenly compliant — and only too happy to do whatever the mayor asks.” In other words, they may not be the most feasible plans in the world. His analysis is worth a read.