Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
There’s a reason Philadelphia has the reputation of being one of the most corrupt cities in America – because it is. We have proof.
Back in March of this year, after a long, hard process, the Democrat Mayor of Philly, Michael Nutter, announced a deal to sell the municipally-owned (and bleeding money) Philadelphia Gas Works to UIL Holdings Corporation, a Connecticut-based investor-owned gas and electric utility holding company. The deal would have injected $424 million into the city’s failing pension fund. It was a win/win all the way around. What did the corrupt City Council do? Diddle around, giving special interests time to mount opposition. The corrupt City Council announced they were killing the deal Nutter, one of their own, worked so hard to negotiate.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about Philadelphia becoming an “energy hub” in the northeast – the next Houston. City Council has just torpedoed that initiative.
Do you honestly believe ANY serious company is going to set up shop in Philly with a City Council as flaky as this one–that will heed the call of special interests over the good of its own citizens? No way. You can kiss the whole “energy hub” notion good bye.
City Council’s leadership on Monday drove a spike into the proposed $1.86 billion sale of Philadelphia Gas Works without bringing the matter to a vote, apparently killing a signature effort by Mayor Nutter to reduce the city’s pension-fund deficit.
Council President Darrell L. Clarke said Council would not hold hearings on the proposal to sell PGW to UIL Holdings Corp. of New Haven, Conn. Nutter billed the sale as a way to divest the city of a burdensome asset and raise money for its underfunded pensions.
“The simple fact of the matter is that there is not support on the City Council,” Clarke said at a news conference, surrounded by the entire Council leadership. He said Council instead would schedule hearings to examine other options for the 176-year-old utility.
Nutter blasted Council’s decision to nix a deal in which his administration invested more than two years. PGW has spent more than $2 million on financial, legal, and communications consultants to organize an auction supervised by investment bankers to attract bids from more than 30 potential buyers.
“What we saw today is the biggest cop-out in recent legislative history in Philadelphia,” the mayor told reporters.
UIL spokesman Michael A. West Jr. said the company, which operates four New England utilities, was disappointed by Council’s decision, and was unsure whether Clarke’s announcement was absolute. UIL had received no formal communication from Council.
“We followed the process that we thought was representative of the City of Philadelphia, we gave our response, put in a good-faith effort to acquire the asset, and still believe we are the strongest company,” West said.
Council’s decision was decried by sale advocates and business leaders, who fear it will send an inhospitable message to potential investors.
“This is clearly not going to be perceived as a positive signal to those interested in coming here to create jobs,” said Rob Wonderling, head of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, which earlier Monday called on Council to sell PGW.
“Today’s action violates every principle of transparent and effective governance,” said Ellen Kaplan, interim president of the Committee of Seventy watchdog group. She called Council’s action “disgraceful and cowardly.”(1)
The corrupt Philadelphia City Council knew there would be blowback against their decision, so they prepared a whitewash statement, hoping media outlets would pick it up and use it as talking points to confuse the general public. It’s full of excuses, pretense that the deal isn’t dead and socialistic political correct “recommendations” of the type that seems to paralyze so much of urban America these days.
As we said, City Council can kiss the whole “energy hub” thing good bye. No need to bother holding any kind of hearings (as they say they plan to do) – no one will show up now.
What utter arrogance to think that only the government will protect the “interests” of citizens–that private business, the foundation on which this country was built – will somehow rob and screw the very customers it serves. The truth is just the opposite as the PGW experience demonstrates. Socialism (nee Communism) with its belief that government should own the means of production has deeply taken root in the U.S. and it’s poisoned tree has fully blossomed in Philly. What a shame.
Every one of the members of the Philly City Council should be bounced at the earliest opportunity/election if they don’t reconsider.
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