By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s controller is accusing the Nutter administration of having a super-secret, 24/7 VIP hotline for when movers-and-shakers need to get through to City Hall.
City controller Alan Butkovitz says his staff learned of the existence of what he calls “a VIP hotline” during an audit of overtime of workers in the city’s 311 (non-emergency) call center.
“And we noticed that there’s a VIP unit to 311 that is in operation 24 hours a day,” he told KYW Newsradio today.
By contrast, the 311 line for the rest of us operates 12 hours a day, Mondays through Fridays only.
This strikes Butkovitz — a presumptive candidate for Philadelphia mayor — as unfair.
“Now, there is a lower level of service for the average citizen, (and) there’s a special group of people who have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access,” he said.
But Rich Negrin, city managing director for the Nutter administration, disputes Butkovitz’s conclusion. He says the line that Butkovitz is referring to is for internal use only by city employees.
“It is not a ‘VIP’ line. There is no outside, public-facing component of this. This is not a number for people on the outside to call someone well-connected in City Hall,” Negrin told KYW Newsradio this afternoon. “And, quite frankly, if the controller had picked up the phone and called me (or) our chief of staff, he would have learned that and could have avoided what I think is an embarrassing press release on his part.”
Butkovitz wants the mayor to open up the 311 call center to all residents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He says six employees in the special unit earned $164,000 in overtime last year.