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City Council Members Say Summer Recess Is Not A “Paid Vacation”

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(Philadelphia City Council chambers.  File photo)

(Philadelphia City Council chambers. File photo)

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 adjourned for their annual three-month summer recess by refuting a newspaper editorial that said their break amounts to a paid vacation.

Each year, from mid-June through mid-September, City Council holds no formal “stated” meetings, no legislation is passed, and committee hearings are rare. Yet as Council wrapped up its spring session Thursday, some lawmakers were clearly annoyed by an editorial appearing that morning equating their annual summer recess with a paid vacation.

Councilman Jim Kenney sarcastically alluded to it in a speech on the floor of Council.

“I read this morning that I was going to be at the shore, at the beach, all summer long,” said the councilman.

That’s not the case, said Kenney, who insisted a lot of work goes on in July and August.

“So the Inquirer editorial board ought to visit us this summer and maybe they’d learn something,” said Kenney.

Council President Darrell Clarke joined in Kenney’s public rebuttal.

“After being here for a number of years, you just let it roll off your back. But at the end of the day, not only do we know what we do, the people know what we do,” said Clarke.

Clarke, speaking later to reporters, used as an example a special committee that will continue its probe this summer of the Market Street collapse.

“Why they think we’re on this quote/unquote paid vacation perplexes me, given the fact that we have a public hearing next week, and will continue to work not only in this council chamber but throughout our districts,” he said.

Clarke called the criticism “ridiculous.”

A 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that of city councils in 15 major U.S. cities, Philadelphia’s legislature had the greatest number of weeks each year in which no formal meeting is held.

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