BY JOE SHEA STIVALA/ CITY COUNCIL: Councilman Jim KENNEY’S thought the real-estate tax rate ought to be about 1.0 is a GOOD START. The proposed 1.3 would be DEVASTATING to homeowners and commerce! Actually, the tax rate would be best at about $700-800 per $100,000 of the value of your home. Remember during the Board of Revision era – they looked at determining the value of real estate in the marketplace for taxing purposes, not to meet a Mayor’s spending needs. Now with MAYORAL CONTROL of that office (now called OPA or “Ohhh-pah”), the tax rate can be set to give the Mayor ALL he wants to spend. KENNEY correctly says a hard look at HOW the money is spent is in order…. Another CONCERN is the massive decline in voluntary payments to the City in lieu of taxes from large EXEMPT institutions. These payments were once large and civic-minded. Now they pay like the 1%.
The Jannie BLACKWELL measure on notification of neighbors, for input on development, had to override a mayoral veto for passage. Councilman Bill Green should NOT have voted with the Mayor on the bill. It can be remembered and might come up in a mayoral campaign…. Kenney is wrong to try to make the Office of INSPECTOR GENERAL permanent. We already have too many investigators. The City CONTROLLER and DISTRICT ATTORNEY already do the job! With too little corruption, they will be tripping over each other. For cases that “fall between the cracks” – set up a SMALL unit with the DA or Controller. The Inspector General’s office says it pays for themselves. How much does the City save when an employee is fired for a between-the-cracks case, and sues – then gets his job back – with BACK PAY and benefits? As a POLICE CHIEFS Life Member, I often had lunch with former Inspectors General who had a WEE-sized staff. The size of this unit is much LARGER – more salary and benefits. The KENNEY proposal should NOT PASS.
Councilperson MARIAN TASCO has been named to the National League of Cities Community & Economic Development Steering Committee, where she will make policy in the housing, parks, economy and the new field of international business…. MORE HAPPY NEWS: FEB. 6 is the birthday for Milt BORNSTEIN, extraordinary scholar; and State Rep. Brendan BOYLE. Also Judge John BRAXTON – an incredible fellow of unending energy for the common good. On the 7th it will be the birthday of State REP. Kevin BOYLE. No, he was not born a day apart from his brother.
The Democratic STATE COMMITTEE will meet on the 8th-9th in Hershey…. State REPS. Louise BISHOP and Mike McGEEHAN are promoting their child sexual-abuse bill, a key, timely issue. The public needs this measure!
The Inquirer-Daily News drivers voted on a two-year contract with management. So I guess the owners won’t want to sell. Joe INEMER, business manager of Local 16N (printers) says the publications’ most-valuable ASSET is its PEOPLE. Agreed!… State Sen. Anthony Hardy WILLIAMS has co-introduced legislation to change how judges are chosen. Did he not introduce a similar bill before?? Williams, a nice guy who is mentioned as the leading contender for Mayor of Philly, should DROP IT. We do not want another 1% MAYOR. The concept of having the Governor select names for judges, with Senate confirmation is LAZY and ROYALIST government. It SHUTS OUT too many potentially qualified persons from the SELECT FEW LIST. In America, we leave selection to the PEOPLE. This is not DOWNTON ABBEY!
And now Gov. CHRISTIE moves to privatize the New Jersey Lottery. Fresh and with a glow from hurricane-relief efforts, he follows Corbett in this endeavor. Lawmakers and citizens: SUE him to stop it. Privatization does not save money, and gives a one-shot big cash high to state coffers. CHRISTIE, who has been low-key of late, will have to return to the old bluster mode if he wants to be a presidential or VEEP candidate…. GOV. CORBETT, in an interview, seemed more concerned for the well-being of the State Attorney General Kathleen KANE in her look at the Penn State matter. He says she needs to be “careful.” He says he did not think that she had “ever been involved in a Grand Jury.” If so, SO WHAT (?). A one-time prosecutor said Kane risks hurting office morale. BLARNEY! He says she could turn up evidence that could undermine pending prosecution actions. If she turns up new evidence, then that is HELPFUL!
WHO was voted the Third Best Mayor in the World by the 2012 World Mayor Project? No, it was not Nutter. It is Joko WIDODO, Mayor of Jakarta, Indonesia. “Mr. Fix-it”, as he is known, is out AMONG the people, talking with them about education and health care, and fixing problems. For Jakarta’s big flooding problems (like Eastwick); he has a plan. Transit, he got federal money. But in Philly, It may be time to change the charter for a stronger CITY COUNCIL, weaker Mayor form of government…. Hats off to State Rep. Mike O’BRIEN, who has been a foremost people’s advocate on your A.V.I. REAL-ESTATE TAX INCREASE. O’Brien grilled the City Finance Director, Rob Dubow, on the delay in presenting your new market value. “Quiet” Dubow said City Council will get the values next week. BUT ARE THEY GOOD VALUES? If they do not reflect sales in the last three years of comparable properties and BOOM SALE YEARS of 2006-08 or 2006-08 mixed with current sales; then they should be THROWN OUT. (It will have been a wasted year.) It is UP TO CITY COUNCIL to check this!! It can be easily done by checking sales. Bankers, appraisers and assessors use the most current three years.
The mayoral investigation of the Provisional Ballot issue continues with a MEASLY two hearings for the public, one in City Hall and another in a church in North Philly. No, not other neighborhoods? It will be interesting to see if the “public” are the usual talking heads, which can be relied on for a quote. Some POLS say the probe is just a TAKEOVER to remove elected Commissioners (?). Can’t they get (or want to) it straight? The Founding Fathers wanted elected officials. If you don’t agree, then MOVE out of the USA! Start making BETS on if a recommendation to eliminate elected Commissioners in favor of drones will be in the final report.