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.
April 13, 2011
City officials need to get rid of a loophole in Philadelphia's campaign-finance law that lets deep-pocketed donors skirt contribution limits. This legal end run nullifies the city's rules that prohibit a political-action committee from giving more than $10,600 to any individual candidate each year. The campaign-giving limits, which Mayor Nutter supported as a City Council member, are designed to minimize the potential impact on city policy by any one donor or political committee.
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approval Wednesday to a measure that would expand gun owners' rights and voted down an amendment that would have repealed a law that allows individuals who cannot get a gun permit in Pennsylvania to do so other states.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.
October 7, 2010
LESS THAN a month ago, Marqus Hill was arrested in the slaying of Irving Santana, allegedly shooting him 13 times. Hill's Philadelphia gun permit had been revoked five years ago, but he easily got a permit from Florida, thanks to a frightening loophole that Pennsylvania lawmakers just had the chance to close, but failed. The so-called Florida loophole - which allows someone whose application has been rejected in Pennsylvania to go online and apply for a permit from a state with fewer restrictions - puts the fate of the city's citizens at the mercy of the Florida Department of Agriculture, which issues the permits, instead of the Philadelphia Police Department.
October 5, 2010
Paramedics out of fire union Paramedics are out of the city firefighters union after a ruling by the state Labor Relations Board that paramedics aren't firefighters. Bill Gault, president of Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said that he hopes to petition to go before the board again, but that the 220 medics are no longer paying dues and will soon be off the union health plan. The Nutter administration last year appealed to the state Labor Relations Board to remove paramedics from Local 22, arguing that medics have different schedules and do different work.
September 29, 2010 |
When former New Jersey Sen. Wayne Bryant filed his financial-disclosure statements from 2004 to 2006, he listed his law firm, Zeller & Bryant, as a source of earned income. But Bryant did not have to reveal that his firm received $192,000 in retainer fees during that period from an influential Bergen County law firm. An indictment filed Monday in federal court charges that while those fees were purportedly for legal work relating to a Meadowlands project, they actually were bribes in exchange for the senator's support of the law firm's clients' development projects, including proposals to redevelop Petty's Island and Cramer Hill in Camden.