The Brief: Shane Montgomery’s Mom Presses for More Surveillance Cameras in Philly
1. The mother of Shane Montgomery testified in favor of a bill that would beef up the number of surveillance cameras in the city.
The gist: Last year, 21-year-old college student Shane Montgomery apparently drowned in the Schuylkill River after drinking at Kildaire’s Irish Pub in Manayunk. Kildaire’s did not have a working outdoor camera, and Montgomery’s body wasn’t discovered until weeks after his death. In the wake of the tragedy, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. introduced a bill in February to require all city establishments that serve alcohol to install a surveillance camera outside. NewsWorks reports that Montgomery’s mother, Karen, told Council on Monday, “I have no delusions that any camera would have saved my Shane. However, I am convinced without a doubt that had video shown his direction upon leaving his last stop, the suffering endured during searches without direction would have been lessened.”
What it means: Council will have to weigh two factors while considering this bill: On one hand, additional cameras throughout the city could help families like Montgomery’s and fight crime. Michael Resnick, the city’s public safety director, said at Monday’s Council hearing that since two surveillance initiatives were launched in Philadelphia, “There have been approximately 1,700 videos released to the public, which has led to approximately 450 arrests and 750 investigations cleared.” At the same time, Jones’ legislation is an unfunded mandate for businesses throughout the city. Sande Freidman of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association’s local chapter said the bill “targets the hospitality industry, restaurants specifically, to implement yet another fiscally burdensome mandate at a time where taxes are rising.”
2. Another member of the Philadelphia delegation pleaded guilty to corruption charges.
The gist: On Monday, Democratic state Rep. Michelle Brownlee pleaded guilty to a conflict-of-interest charge and resigned. Brownlee is the fourth Pennsylvania legislator to plead guilty in a sting case in which an undercover agent posing as a lobbyist offered lawmakers cash in return for favors. The other three are — you guessed it — Philly Democrats. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Brownlee will likely be able to keep her state pension as a part of a deal with prosecutors.
What it means: The perp walk by four city lawmakers couldn’t come at a worse time for Philly. Harrisburg is in the midst of intense budget negotiations that could completely transform the city’s underfunded schools and uncompetitive taxes. As Patrick Kerkstra wrote in Citified last week, “It sure would help [Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf], and by extension, Philadelphia, if the city’s delegation in Harrisburg featured an array of powerful pols working in unison to help the new governor’s boundary-pushing budget get passed. But that’s not the delegation Philadelphia has. Not by a long shot.”
3. The firefighters union has a new leader.
The gist: The Daily News reports that Joe Schulle, president of Philadelphia’s firefighters and paramedics union for the past two years, stepped down Monday. Union members voted for Andrew Thomas, a 23-year veteran of the department, to succeed him. While running for president, Schulle promised to mend the relationship between the union and Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, which had turned sour under the leadership of his predecessor Bill Gault. Shortly after Schulle became president, Nutter dropped his appeal of a firefighters arbitration award.
What it means: Guess who swore in the new labor leader? Jim Kenney, the city’s presumptive next mayor and a son of a former firefighter. It’s a symbol of just how close Kenney and the union are. The firefighters endorsed Kenney in the mayor’s race, and if he is elected as expected, he will inarguably have a much different relationship with the union than Nutter had. The upside is that there would likely be much less labor unrest under a Mayor Kenney. The downside is that it might be harder for him to say “no” to the union’s demands.
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