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Philadelphia City Council, Nutter Still At Odds Over Advertising On City Properties

(Philadelphia solicitor Shelley Smith responds to questions from councilman James Kenney, right.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Philadelphia solicitor Shelley Smith responds to questions from councilman James Kenney, right. Image from City of Phila. TV)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – City Council members are accusing Mayor Nutter of foot-dragging on putting advertising on city properties in order to generate some much-needed cash.

It was more than a year ago that City Council President Darrell Clarke pitched the idea of bringing in tens of millions of dollars through advertising on recreation centers and other properties. And that, he says, could help keep taxes down.

At a hearing on the matter this past week, aides to the mayor said they are now exploring potential legal issues with the idea. This infuriated Clarke, who wanted to know why legal questions are only now being examined:

“I stood on the stage at the Academy of Music (in January 2012) during the inauguration of these council members and talked about municipal marketing. So you’re telling me from that time until today we couldn’t figure out what’s tax exempt, what’s not tax exempt, what’s eligible, how you can determine content on property? This is ridiculous! This is a case of you all not wanting to do it because its not your idea. I’m just calling it like it is.”

Bearing the brunt of this at the hearing was the mayor’s top attorney, Solicitor Shelley Smith, who also got an earful from Councilman Jim Kenney:

Kenney: “What leads us to believe that this is going to go forward in a good faith manner, when in general the Administration’s position has been that they don’t like outdoor advertising and they think its evil?”

Smith: “(Public Property) Commissioner (Bridget) Greenwald has just testified that the administration supports this…”

Kenney: “Supporting it and getting it done are two different things.”

The council committee approved authorizing advertising on city-owned properties, but Clarke, Kenney and others remain skeptical on how quickly the Administration will move toward this.