June 6, 2011
THE DEFERRED Retirement Option Plan has more lives than an alley cat and more twists than a Tom Clancy novel. It's all trapdoors and mirrored halls: When DROP was drafted more than a decade ago, elected officials were not included. When it was passed, they were included. Do you believe in magic? Everyone signing up for DROP makes an "irrevocable commitment" to retire after receiving the lump-sum payout (aka pot o' gold). Abracadabra! Some elected officials grabbed the pot o' gold and returned to their jobs.
May 7, 2011 |
The electricians' union continues to leave the biggest footprints in city political races, reporting donations of at least $10,000 to five different City Council candidates and steering even more to a favored few. Campaign finance reports filed Friday with city election officials showed Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers took advantage of a loophole in the city's contribution limits to send at least $55,000 in support...
April 19, 2011
Acting swiftly to plug a loophole in Philadelphia's campaign-finance law before the May 17 primary, Mayor Nutter and City Council sent the right message about the city's resolve to keep pressing for reform. The flaw in the 2006 law was repaired by an ordinance approved by Council on Thursday and immediately signed by the mayor. Before Council members and Nutter acted, political action committees - and, notably, one run by the city's most politically active union - were able to make a legal end run around limits on campaign contributions.
April 18, 2011
IT SURPRISED US to learn that the word "loophole" dates back to the 16th century, describing a small hole in the wall through which an arrow or gun might be fired. We were sure it was going to have its origins as an electrical term, since the electricians union is particularly adept at finding them. The city's attempt to reform campaign finance rules in 2006 managed to impose a $10,600 contribution limit to candidates from a single Political Action Committee, but neglected to cover contributions from multiple PACs in the same organization.
March 20, 2011 |
A few weeks ago, Bob Johnson got an e-mail from a US Airways employee that began, "They're at it again. " What was US Airways up to? At the beginning of the month, the carrier quietly added a new fee: Passengers who book a ticket through a travel agent but call the airline directly to make a change to their itinerary will now have to pay $25 to speak with an agent on the phone. Before, they were exempt from the fee. And here's where Johnson comes in. Calling him a loyal US Airways customer would be an understatement.
October 29, 2010 |
An unlikely figure has thrown his weight and his wallet behind an attack ad in the Pennsylvania governor's race: New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire mayor put up $500,000 to underwrite a gun-control group's 30-second commercial urging voters to reject Republican candidate Tom Corbett, and to aid the group's efforts in other Pennsylvania races. The anti-Corbett spot, financed via Bloomberg's donation to CeaseFire PA, began airing Monday on network and cable television in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
October 14, 2010 |
HARRISBURG - The state Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a measure that would expand gun owners' rights and voted down an amendment that would have repealed a law that allows individuals who cannot get a gun permit in Pennsylvania to do so other states. In a 41-8 vote, the Senate amended a bill to add the so-called castle doctrine, which allows individuals to defend themselves beyond their homes, including in their vehicles and, in essence, "anywhere they have the right to be," according to the legislation.
October 13, 2010
WALKING PAST a prominent industry lobbyist outside the Capitol, I overhear the end of a cell-phone conversation. "Yes," says the lobbyist in a weary, drawn-out voice, "tell him I can get him tickets. " When the call's finished, I say, "Tough time to be a lobbyist, eh?" "You have no idea," says the lobbyist. "They not only want tickets, they want boxes so they can bring their friends. " Yeah, well . . . go, Phillies. Or go, Eagles, or Steelers or whatever Pennsylvania-based team that your lawmakers seek free regular-season, playoff or World Series tickets to. The point is, the repulsive process that produces public policy is alive and well and playing out in all its end-of-session, election-year glory.