Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mayor's Office responds to Matt Wolfe's Accusations and Wolfe Rebuts from Metro

Here is a snippet of Mayor's response:

“The three deputy mayors mentioned have a range of duties and titles, but they are paid for one job,” McDonald wrote in an email. “Going back at least to 1969, city solicitors have concluded that this is no violation of the Home Rule Charter by those holding multiple positions in city government as long as they are drawing a single salary.”
Wolfe contested that opinion, saying a solicitor’s opinion was not a “legal authority.”
“That’s not what the city charter says,” Wolfe said. “It should not surprise anybody that a city solicitor who was appointed by the mayor and is receiving a salary in excess of the salary legally given to her by the law will say that so she can continue receiving a higher salary and doing what the mayor appointed her to that position wants her to do.”
Philadelphia charter section 8-301 states that no one working for the city may hold another position of profit with a governmental entity.
Wolfe’s piece also said that salaries are paid to the deputy mayors and other top city officials in excess of the maximum salary for those positions listed in the city charter.
For example, according to charter section 20-303, the salary of the Philadelphia police commissioner must not exceed $120,000. According to a report on the city’s highest paid employees in Philadelphia Magazine published in June, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey receives a salary of $261,375.
But the “maximum salary” charter code also states that it is “subject to the cost of living provisions” McDonald pointed out.
- See more HERE
Here is Matt's Response - 

Today’s Metro reports that City Hall is “spitting mad” over my commentary taking them to task for firing 13 little “double dippers” but failing to enforce the same law with their top officials. “Mr. Wolfe is very, very far from the facts,” said Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald. Well, let’s see.
McDonald says that I misunderstood the charter because the officials have two positions but are paid for only one job. First, the Metro article misquotes the city charter. Section 8-301 does NOT say that “no one working for the city may hold another position of profit with a governmental entity.” What it says is: “Except as otherwise provided in this charter, no person shall hold more than one office OR position of profit, whether elective or appointive, under the City and no such person shall hold such office or position while holding any other office or position of profit in or under the government of the United States, of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or of any county, city or other political subdivision thereof, other than the office of notary public, any office in the military or naval service of the United States or of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or any ex officio office held by virtue of another office or position.” [my emphasis]
Courts, in interpreting statutes have always held that all of the words in a statute should have meaning. Why say “office or position of profit” if they are the same thing? Probably to avoid the situation that we have here. So they’re wrong that it’s OK for a managing director to also hold the office of deputy mayor, because that is more than one office, whether it is a position of profit or not. I don’t think I’m the one misunderstanding the charter.
Next they argue that the cost of living increases in the law put them in the clear. Not quite. While they are correct that there are cost of living adjustments allowed, there is no possible way that all of these salaries are under the caps even with the adjustments. While it is true that I said that if the cost of living adjustments took Negrin from $135,000 to 171,000, they would be right, the next sentence out of my mouth was something to the effect that there is no way that the cost of living adjustments took Ramsey from $120,000 to $261,375, which would be more than a 100 percent increase (the Metro didn’t print that comment – hey, they have space limitations, too). So they’re wrong about the cost of living increases being the justification for the salaries over the legal cap. If that calculation of the cost of living adjustment for the Police Commissioner is correct, I’ll do a Chris Christie. Note that they have not provided any breakdown.
Let’s look back to what they were saying when they instituted this policy in 2008. On January 28, 2008, Jim McCaffery of the Bulletin reported as follows:
“When new mayor Michael Nutter decidd to pay his new managing director and his new police chief each $195,000 per year, he did so knowing those salaries exceeded limite set down in the City Home Rule Charter. Mr. Nutter provided second titles to the managing director, Camille Cates Barnett, and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Ms. Cates is also the ‘deputy mayor’ and Commissioner Ramsey is the “director of public safety,” Mr. Nutter said. Thus, he told inquirers, they are doing two jobs and are eligible for more money.”
The same article stated that Zach Stalberg of the Committee of Seventy “frowned at Mr. Nutter’s explanation.” He was quoted as saying that “The process, though, makes people question [Mayor Nutter] and his feelings about transparency and the way things work.”
In a follow up article the next day, January 29, 2008, McCaffery reports:
“Mayor Nutter has avoided Home Rule Charter limitations on his senior staff salaries by giving them two titles. Ms. Barnett will make $195,000 substantially more than the approximately $175,000 charter limit for the managing director’s job. Mr. Nutter has sidestepped the charter by giving her the additional title of deputy mayor. He believes the added title allows him to bump her salary above the Charter limit. The mayor did something similar with new Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey who also is receiving a $195,000 salary. The charter only allows approximately $155,000 for the commissioner’s job so Commissioner Ramsey also carries the title of director of public safety. Similarly, Mr. Altman will receive $185,000 in his new job. He carries the title of Commerce Director and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.”
As I said, I do not have access to the Inquirer and Daily News archives. I did find in my notes that I relied upon a Daily News article from January 18, 2008 entitled “Breaking the fiscal rules.” There was also a “Heard in the Hall” piece that was probably entitled “Taxpayer dollars at work What Nutter’s paying.” I note that KYW Radio also had a piece “Mayor Nutter Defends High Salaries for Top Staffers.” My guess is that they will say substantially the same thing as the Bulletin articles.
In 2008 Nutter was not saying that the cost of living adjustments bumped the salaries up to legal levels. He was not saying that they did not really have two jobs. He was saying that they had two jobs and that is why they could pay them more than the salary caps in the Philadelphia Code.
My guess is that in 2008 they had read about the salary caps in the charter and Philadelphia Code but had not noticed the provision that prevented employees from holding two positions. Now they are caught in a trap of trying to enforce a provision that they are in violation of at the highest levels and are scrambling to say anything to have the controversy did down. In any event, they are wrong.
“Wolfe is deeply in error, and what’s disappointing is that the Inquirer editorial page didn’t see fit to check any of the facts in this before running it,” McDonald said. I don’t think that either me or the Inquirer have any apologies to make.
- See more at: http://www.metro.us/philadelphia/news/local/2014/01/13/city-hall-says-inquirer-op-ed-criticizing-deputy-mayors/#sthash.L8aWtWZF.dpuf

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