By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An about-face from the Nutter administration this afternoon as the mayor indicates he will, after all, allow fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers to appear tomorrow a City Council hearing on the decision to rescind the promotion of 14 firefighters.
This latest twist comes after City Council issued a subpoena to Ayers to appear.
Councilman Jim Kenney is holding the hearing on the latest career turn of the fourteen firefighters and wants to hear firsthand from Commissioner Ayers.
The Nutter administration had originally agreed only to send public safety director Mike Resnick. Kenney was not satisfied, and sent Ayers a subpoena.
“The authority to demote (is what) they call a management prerogative. But the management prerogative could also be not to demote them, which they didn’t do. So I would like to ask the person who’s allegedly responsible for making the decision the direct question, and not some surrogate,” Kenney said earlier.
Hours after the subpoena was delivered, the administration relented. Mark McDonald, the mayor’s spokesman, said Ayers will answer questions at the hearing although his schedule precludes him from staying beyond a half-hour.
When asked for a reason for the change, McDonald would not attribute it to the issuance of the subpoena. A Nutter administration source, however, says the original decision to keep Ayers away stemmed from what officials perceived as a lack of courtesy shown to Ayers during past appearances in Council (see related story).
In the source’s words, “The level of personal disrespect (shown to Ayers) was beyond the pale.”
The fourteen firefighters were promoted this past spring, under an order from a Common Pleas Court judge. Last month an appeals court tossed out that ruling, allowing the Nutter administration to rescind the promotions (see related story).