Story Archive September 19 2012

Editorial: It’s paypack time, Mr. Mayor

Back when he was running for mayor in 2007, Michael Nutter was all reform, all the time. The former city councilman touted his image as a maverick, a rare breed of politician who thinks outside the box to serve the public.The Democratic candidate’s efforts to exploit his dogged determination to clean house in City Hall were so effective that he won every ward in the city, including those in the Northeast, where Mr. Nutter’s Republican opponent, Al Taubenberger, was a longtime resident.While Mr. Nutter has done some great reform-minded things as chief executive of the city, he appears to be slipping into the role of Just Another Big City Democratic Politician as he nears the end of the first year of his second and final term. A glaring example is the use of taxpayer money to pay for two aides to accompany him to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. earlier this month.While attending a presidential nominating convention is perfectly fine, the trip was entirely political, and every dollar of the expenses associated with it should come from either the mayor’s campaign or personal funds or the Democratic National Committee’s treasury.In a perfect world, Mr. Nutter’s fellow Democrats — for instance, congressman Bob Brady, head of the Democratic City Committee; veteran state Rep. Mark Cohen, who never met a per diem he didn’t like; or City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who has the power to withhold payments of city funds — should blast the blatant misuse of public funds.Don’t expect them to say anything, however. Why should they? They hold office in a town whose voters have foolishly allowed themselves to be governed by one party for more than 60 years.Send letters to the editor to:

Letters to the editor: Sept. 19, 2012 edition

Honor thy firefighter with proper compensationI agree with state Rep. Kevin Boyle’s letter that appeared in the Northeast Times Sept. 5 (We must protect our great protectors). In fact, everyone that I talk to also agrees. Four long years without an increase in pay is unconscionable. The average Philadelphia firefighter makes $40,000 a year. Compare this to Pittsburgh at $48,000, which in itself is well below the national average of $62,000 per annum. The following information will rev you up: Chicago, $65,000; Columbus, $54,000; Los Angeles, $64,000; Phoenix, $52,000.I love our firefighters. During 9/11 ceremonies last week, I was reminded of the Philadelphia contingent of off-duty firefighters who traveled to Ground Zero. They are not the best paid, but they are the best in the land.We can see light at the end of the tunnel. Sam Katz, chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, passed Mayor Nutter’s five-year plan with one caveat — that the city sits down with Local 22 this year to begin talks in earnest. Mr. Katz said in an interview last year, “Philadelphia is disconnecting from government and has become quite entrepreneurial, much of it happening without permission.”It is time, right now, for the city to reconnect with government. Sit down immediately with union leader Bill Gault and his team of negotiators and agree on a new contract that will pay our firefighters a fair salary.John FritzParkwood

Beware the scam slam

— As the old saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is." Here's why:

Talking the talk