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City Council Wants To Take Over Setting City Worker Gift Limits

(City Council president Darrell Clarke, in Council chambers.  File photo by Steve Tawa)

(City Council president Darrell Clarke, in Council chambers. File photo by Steve Tawa)

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)KYW Newsradio reported Thursday about a plan by the city’s Board of Ethics to put specific limits on the value of gifts that city workers can accept (see story).

Now, City Council members plan to do the very same thing — but with a higher limit.

City Council President Darrell Clarke knew rules on gift giving to city workers should come from the council, not the Board of Ethics:

“My perspective is that the Ethic Board’s primary responsibility should be to enforce the existing law and to enforce any future laws, and they also should educate. City Council was elected by the people to legislate. So we’re going to put legislation in place that will codify this particular provision as it relates to gifts.”

There’s one big difference, though, between Clarke’s plan and the Ethic Board’s: the Board wants the dollar value of gifts in a year capped at $50, while Clarke wants it at $99, a limit he thinks is reasonable:

“The $99 figure is consistent with a number of municipalities across the country. Los Angeles, for example, has a $100 (cap).”

Both proposals are in agreement on one thing: they ban outright any gifts of actual cash or checks.

The Ethics Board is expected to vote on its regulations at its February 19th meeting. Clarke’s proposed law, which would revise the vague 50-year-old city gift law, will be debated this spring in committee.