Mayor: Council Is Fibbing! Council: Nuh-Uh!
So City Council has just released a rebuttal to a rebuttal to a letter summarily rejecting the sale of PGW. At least, I think that’s where things stand. It seems like everyone has a lot to say. Maybe — and I’m just spitballing here — a hearing on the proposed sale would have been a good place to air some of these issues out?
There will be no hearing on the sale, of course, which is at the root of this dysfunctional display. After two years, $21.3 million spent by the leading bidder, and two expensive reports from different analysts, Mayor Nutter figured he would at least get a Council hearing on the potential sale. Council President Darrell L. Clarke and the rest of council leadership — in what increasingly looks like a big political misstep — figured if council didn’t want the deal, why waste time with hearings?
You’ll find Council’s latest salvo below, as well as the Nutter administration’s effective, if dense, six pages of spin on the sale, which was first published last week by the Philadelphia Business Journal.
The dueling memos boil down to this: The Nutter administration claims it gave council more than ample opportunity to influence the PGW sale process, and that council could still amend the deal even now. In council’s view, the administration’s overtures amounted to sheer tokenism.
Setting aside the merits of the deal for a moment, it’s hard to know who has the right of this process-tastic question of who was invited to what meetings and whether those invitations were heartfelt and genuine. And I, for one, have less than no interest in getting to the bottom of that pool of pettiness.
This right here, this exact kind of back-and-forth bickering, is a pretty perfect case study in how the “Pox On Both Your Houses” sentiment is born.
Gluttons for punishment should check out two recent well-done Inquirer stories on the broken deal. The first, from Andy Maykuth, looks at the behind-the-scenes influence Liberty Energy had in sinking the PGW deal. Liberty, which was founded by, as Maykuth calls him, “Russian-born, Harvard-trained former Enron executive” Boris Brevnov, hired a ton of lobbying and legal talent as it quietly made its case as an alternative to Nutter’s proposed sale of PGW to UIL. And in this morning’s Inquirer, Chris Hepp, who has a stronger stomach than I, went deeper on the council/administration back and forth.
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