Nutter Still Wants PGW Sale Hearing
Though seemingly dead for good after a City Council announcement on Monday, there may still be life in the proposal to sell Philadelphia Gas Works to a private company.
Mayor Nutter, for example, hopes the deal can be resuscitated — saying the proposal should’ve received public hearings before a decision was made.
“Everyone can then come in and have their position known whatever the case might be,” said Nutter. “That’s the democratic process; that’s how we do things in this city. This is highly unusual, very questionable and raises the issue of when and how was this decision made by a body that is clearly required to operate under the Sunshine Act and actually take positions and make decisions in a very public way. That clearly did not happen.”
Nutter, still fuming over City Council president Darrell Clarke’s decision to scuttle the PGW sale without a public hearing, is hoping that public pressure will force City Council to reverse course.
“I’m hopeful that the public will continue to demand that there at least be a hearing, and that councilmembers take an actual vote, one way or another,” the mayor said today. “People still want to know: What was this all about, why did everything get shut down so unceremoniously, without any kind of public hearing or debate or discussion?”
But Council President Darrell Clarke told the Inquirer Tuesday the mayor may have inadvertently sealed the fate of the deal.
Clarke, in a Tuesday interview, traced his own dissatisfaction to a moment in February when Nutter addressed PGW’s future at a Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce luncheon and spoke of partnership with Council on the sale.
“That kind of upset me,” said Clarke, who explained that in his mind there was no partnership yet at work.
The Daily News says Philly is getting blasted in Harrisburg:
State House Majority Leader Michael Turzai (R-Allegheny County) blasted City Council today for failing to hold hearings or call a vote on the proposed $1.86 billion sale to UIL Holdings of Connecticut. He came just short of telling members that they’ve made their bed.
“By choosing parochialism over people or the good of the city and region, Philadelphia City Council sent a very clear message to Harrisburg, the business community and its residents that it’s unwilling to take control of itself. Instead, once again, Council chose to come to Harrisburg and state taxpayers to solve its self-induced crises,” he said.
Meanwhile, UIL Holdings — the company that had planned to buy PGW, sounds ready to wash its hands of the matter:
“In light of the City Council’s announcement yesterday, we are trying to understand the City Council’s concerns and what it is trying to accomplish,” stated James P. Torgerson, President and Chief Executive Officer of UIL. “We were expecting the City Council to convene to consider and vote on a transaction that would be a win-win for the City of Philadelphia and for UIL. We are disappointed by the City Council’s announcement yesterday that it plans for no public consideration or vote on the transaction and no opportunity to refute the characterizations by Concentric, the City Council’s consultant, of UIL’s commitments to the many considerations and objectives that are important to the City Council.”
“We will determine whether to exercise our contractual right to terminate the agreement with the City and make a determination on future action within two weeks,” added Torgerson. Since July 16, 2014, UIL has had the contractual right to terminate the agreement with the City of Philadelphia to acquire PGW, because the City Council had not enacted an ordinance approving the acquisition by July 15, 2014. Without further action by either party, the acquisition agreement will terminate automatically on December 31, 2014.