BY ABIGAIL SHEPHERD, CITY HALL CORRESPONDENT-IN-TRAINING
10:00 Is when the City Council meeting is scheduled to commence, but the Committee on Appropriations meeting being held in Council chambers is running late and seeing as how these guys dole out the dough, nobody has the balls to ask them kindly wrap it up. So we wait…and wait.
10:05 A group of bikers walk in for a photo-op, later to be recognized as the Double Lyte Posse — a sport bike and motorcycle club actively involved in Northwest Philadelphia community service. A few minutes later, a sea of old ladies swarm in and fill all the available seats of the peanut gallery/public area.
10:14 When is this goddamn meeting going to start?!
10:30 By now Council Chamber is a feverish hive of activity — backslapping, high fives, handshakes, oily smiles, paperwork trading hands like money — and three minutes later the meeting officially starts.
10:39 After the recognitions of distinguished peoples including Policeman Mark Moraz (who did something heroic, not sure what), Double Lyte Posse, and Experience Corp — AKA the sea of old ladies filling the peanut gallery. Experience Corp is a volunteer organization in which senior citizens tutor younger students in math and reading. Good on ’em. Weirdly, everyone seems to leave after the ‘recognized’ people have been recognized and smiled for their obligatory photo op.
10:40 The rest of Council’s business was given over to green-lighting seemingly every piece of legislation put before them. Literally, every bill that was put on the first reading agenda for the day was passed, unanimously. Behind closed doors, however, was a different story. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Council President Anna C. Verna allowed Mayor John Street’s proposal for “$80.8 million dollars worth of projects and other funding” to die without debating the issue in front of full council and the public. “Street asked for the money to be transferred from other funds and city departments to pay for items both small and large, from taking over $8 million worth of social service programs from the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District to paying $50,000 to a furniture vendor who has already delivered 20 file cabinets to the city Board of Ethics.” Mayor-elect Michael Nutter has publicly shown uneasiness towards Street’s last-minute spending telling reporters that “any of these last-minute transfers give me a great deal of concern.” Back inside the council room, everything went smoothly. After every tedious “Yay” was cast, council was dismissed until after the holidays. Merry Christmas, Philadelphia.
City Council By The Numbers
Number of No Votes – 0
Number of mysterious notes passed between Councilwoman Campbell and her “helpers” — approximately 2
Number of photo-ops with every Councilperson Present — 3
Number of times I was asked by some tough old broad from Experience Corp to “please move over” — 6
Number of times I wanted to jump the wooden, courtroom-like barrier that separates the peanut gallery from seated council persons so I would be able to take a decent photo for this post — 3
Number of words Chief Clerk PATRICIA RAFFERTY can speak per minute — 70
Number of Councilmen and women who agreed to adjourn until after Christmas –– All 17
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abigail Shepherd is a journalism major at Temple University. She has bravely volunteered for our trial-by-fire City Hall correspondents training program, wherein we drop her out of an airplane over City Hall without a parachute and only a few clues, a pencil and some paper. This is her first dispatch. It’s a little late because we insisted she send it to us via snail mail, just so she can get a taste for what journalism was like before the Internets.