Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nutter Vetoes Bill

As expected, Mayor Nutter vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have required many businesses to allow their employees to accrue paid sick time.  
Because City Council does not meet again until Sept. 8, the bill's sponsors have the summer to lobby for the 12 votes necessary to overturn the mayor - but that could be a daunting task.
The bill passed this month with the minimum of nine votes amid the horse-trading of several contentious tax-increase proposals.
One of the votes in favor was cast by Councilman Bill Green, who opposed paid sick leave, but supported the bill in a deal to prevent the mayor's soda tax from passing.
Councilman William K. Greenlee, who sponsored paid sick leave along with Majority Whip Darrell L. Clarke, said he was disappointed the mayor did not give the bill more consideration.
"I was hoping we could have a conversation first," he said, shortly after Nutter notified him of the veto. "There was a lot of time and effort put into this, so I don't feel like having a conversation would have been out of line."
Nutter announced his decision in the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue offices of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, while a hastily organized gathering of about 30 protesters waited by the elevators.
"The paid-sick-leave bill . . . would put thousands of jobs at risk and discourage businesses from coming to the city of Philadelphia," Nutter said. "I do not believe this is the time or place for this legislation."
This was the mayor's second veto in a week. On Thursday, he turned aside Council's bill to overhaul the controversial DROP pension program. Nutter favors ending the program.
His DROP veto is likely to be overturned in September, since the bill passed with a comfortable 14 votes.
Paid sick leave was backed by a broad coalition of advocacy groups as a public-health issue and a matter of basic fairness.
The business community was nearly universal in opposition, saying employees would abuse sick time as "unscheduled, paid vacation." A handful of business owners testified at Council that they would leave the city if the bill passed.
Greenlee said there were 19 changes made to the bill to appease business concerns.
"We tried to address the major stuff they came to us with, except 'Don't do it,' which is what they really wanted," he said.
The debate often pitted employers against employees. Restaurant servers were big backers, while owners were lined up against.
Garth Weldon, chairman of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, said the industry was struggling with higher food prices. He applauded the veto.
"It's still a very tough business environment," said Weldon, who is a partner of The Prime Rib, a 225-seat eatery in Center City. "Anything that can help us in small businesses keep afloat without an additional cost is good."
But Marianne Bellestorte, senior director of policy for PathWaysPa, an organization that provides services and advocacy for women, children, and families, said a poll taken by advocates found 71 percent of city residents were in favor of the bill.
"I'm very disappointed that the mayor is not with the 71 percent of Philadelphians who support paid sick leave," she said. "We're going to fight for paid sick time until everyone has access to it. It's a public-health issue."
Nutter said that he supported the intent of the legislation but that the bill should be enacted on a state or federal level. If only Philadelphia had a paid-sick-leave requirement, the city would be at a "competitive disadvantage" in the region, he said.
"I care a great deal about paid sick leave, but I care even more about people getting paid," Nutter said. "People need jobs, and that's our number-one priority."

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 215-854-2730,,
or @troyjgraham on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Phillies-Red Sox Drawing Attention

Red-hot tickets for Red Sox series

Shane Victorino, among other Phillies, wants to quell the overflowing excitement over the three-game series with the Red Sox that begins Tuesday night. The hype is more for the fans and the media, he says.
The first and third games in the series are fantasy baseball pitching matchups: Cliff Lee vs. Josh Beckett in the opener and, on Thursday, an afternoon matinee starring Cole Hamels and John Lester. Wednesday, it's hot rookie righthander Vance Worley vs. John Lackey.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Ramsey Worried About More Shootings

After a weekend with 5 people killed and 32 wounded in shootings, Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey is worried more shots may be fired.
In all, there were nine incidents involving gun fire, including shootings at a bar and a city rec center.
One gunman at the top of the police department's list of suspects is a man caught on tape after opening fire on a bar crowd in Nicetown.
"This was just a blatant disregard for human life. He could have shot and killed eleven people," Ramsay said. "They were all patrons inside, laughing , joking , dancing just having a really good time and this is tragic that this individual just fires randomly into the bar. "
The bar shooting came on top of another spree shooting near a rec center at 33rd and Diamond. An earlier fight ended in a brawl and subsequent shooting that left one man dead and three girls, ages 5, 10 and 15 wounded.
Ramsey's now concerned about retaliation shootings. He took the occasion to address criticism of the city's stop and frisk policy, which resulted in an out of court settlement that will have police stops more closely monitored.
"You have to take a look at what's going on in many of our communities. Its a very serious problem we have to address."
With families mourning and multiple gun shot victims recovering across the city, Ramsey and Mayor Michael Nutter asked for the public's help on Monday.
The commissioner is putting on the full court press to apprehend these shooting and murder suspects.
Ramsey and Nutter are working on a new crime plan and some new tactics. We could hear about that plan fairly soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011