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Philadelphia Lawmakers Press Nutter Administration To Stop Blocking Fire Contract

(Philadelphia city councilman Denny O'Brien tells city budget director Rebecca Rhynhart the city should stop fighting the firefighters' contract arbitration award.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Philadelphia city councilman Denny O’Brien tells city budget director Rebecca Rhynhart the city should stop fighting the firefighters’ contract arbitration award. 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’s frustrations with Mayor Nutter’s handling of the Philadelphia Fire Department boiled over today at a budget hearing.

Council members grilled fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers and budget director Rebecca Rhynhart about several contentious issues, among them the mayor’s long-running appeal of the arbitration award to the firefighters’ union (see related story), the mayor’s desire to have in that contract the right to furlough firefighters, the commissioner’s decision not to use the current promotions list, and the continuing policy of temporary station closures called “brownouts” (see related story).

Their frustration was evident in a speech made at the hearing by at-large councilman Denny O’Brien (at left in photo):

“We should pay that award,” he said, “look at the cost of the actual health care costs over the last four years, and forget the furlough!  And move on!  Move on!”

Rhynhart’s response was succinct:

“Thank you, Councilman.  I hear your frustration.”

The administration puts the cost of the arbitration award at about $200 million.  And that, according to Rhynhart, is more than the city can afford.

The appeal, currently before Commonwealth Court, is for an award that was to have begun in 2009.

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