By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City controller Alan Butkovitz is continuing to accuse the Nutter administration of giving VIPs access to an around-the-clock city hotline not available to others.
But at a news conference today he declined to offer proof.
Butkovitz — a presumptive candidate for mayor next year — called the news conference to criticize the Nutter administration’s use of overtime for city workers. He said the worst use of overtime was for communications dispatchers whom he believes work at a VIP hotline.
“The most egregious problem with the overtime is the approximately $160,000 overtime in 311 (non-emergency call center) for the period studied,” he said, adding, “They’re working in a secret VIP call center that doesn’t comply with what the job description says. It’s not clear what they’re doing at 3 in the morning at 311, if 911 is being used as the emergency contact. We think that’s the most difficult area of overtime to explain.”
The Nutter administration last week vehemently rejected Butkovitz’s initial claim that the 24/7 line was used for politically connected outsiders. City managing director Rich Negrin said the line is for internal use by city employees only.
Butkovitz, at today’s news conference, stood by his claim.
“We’ve had people call in from the outside and get service,” he said.
But when asked by KYW Newsradio for names of those who’ve called in, the controller refused to say.
“I’ll reveal my sources when you reveal your sources! We are not able to disclose that,” he said.
The mayor’s spokesman, Mark McDonald, says Butkovitz is just plain wrong about that hotline:
“He clearly misunderstands what that unit does, the work it does on a 24/7 basis.”
Butkovitz’s audit focused on 26 city employees in five departments who earned a total of $1.8 million in overtime, more than their total base salaries of $950,000. The audit says six employees in the 311 unit earned $164,000 in overtime last year.
Butkovitz insists that if the administration had simply hired additional workers rather than pay overtime, the city could have saved about $716,000 for just these 26 workers.
McDonald, the mayor’s spokesman, says the administration already does what Butkovitz is recommending.
“We keep a careful eye on the drivers of overtime,” he told KYW Newsradio. “We do seek to have overtime authorized and approved in advance. And we do consider hiring people instead of using overtime.”