Battleground: Butkovitz seeks answers on Nutter's deputies

Posted: January 17, 2014

THE NUTTER administration is balking over what a spokesman calls needless fuss over an allegation about so-called double-dipping among the mayor's highest-ranking aides.

When the city inspector general came down on 13 part-time Parks & Recreation staffers for holding two public-sector jobs at the same time, they were fired and held out as examples. But questions raised by a GOP ward leader and candidate for City Council spurred the city controller to ask both the solicitor and the inspector general whether the same thing is happening at the Cabinet level.

The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter prohibits city employees from collecting two salaries while working for multiple government agencies - local, state or federal. In the case of the 13 Parks & Recreation employees, 10 were teachers in the School District of Philadelphia, two were postal workers and one worked in the Attorney General's Office.

"I thought it was reprehensible that they were pushing around the little people," said ward leader J. Matthew Wolfe, an at-large Council candidate.

"The mayor was just saying, 'I'm giving them two jobs, so I can give them two salaries and we can go over the cap.' "

On Tuesday, Controller Alan Butkovitz penned letters to Inspector General Amy Kurland and City Solicitor Shelley R. Smith to determine the "employment standing" of deputy mayors with two titles. He set a deadline of Jan. 21 for opinions.

In an interview with the Daily News, Butkovitz named a few: Managing Director and Deputy Mayor of Administration and Coordination Richard Negrin; Commerce Director and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger; Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Don Schwarz; and Mayor Nutter's chief of staff, Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety.

Butkovitz wants to know if these title-sharing arrangements are a ploy to draw higher salaries for his aides than allowed by the charter.

"The language, to me, looks like it applies the same in both of those cases," Butkovitz said.

"If you have to transfer money in the budget from the Rec Department to the school district to make up for what they [were] doing, why not handle it the same way that you're handling it for the big shots?"

Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said Wolfe's assessment was "riddled with errors."

"[Wolfe] completely misreads the charter," McDonald said.

"Dating back to the 1960s, a number of city-solicitor opinions made clear that a city employee can have a range of duties, a number of titles, and that is appropriate as long as there's only one paycheck," he said.

"As long as they are paid for one job, how that job is defined is open-ended."

McDonald said that former Mayor John Street made similar changes in his administration, and that language in the charter was changed in 1996 to create salary ranges.

- Staff writer Sean Walsh contributed to this report.

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