By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today was another Thursday, and another meeting of Philadelphia City Council without action on Mayor Nutter’s plan to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works.
And Nutter now says it’s time for Council to get going.
The mayor sent his controversial plan to sell PGW to City Council back in the spring, and Council president Darrell Clarke (top photo) still has yet to schedule hearings on the deal.
There had been speculation that today he was going to introduce, rather than the bill itself, a resolution calling for hearings. But even that did not happen at this latest meeting.
Clarke now says his staff’s internal review should be concluded by next week.
“Every time you look at a document that is as complicated as this, you always have questions. We want to make sure that all the questions are answered,” Clarke told KYW Newsradio.
When asked why not simply pose those staff questions at an public hearing, Clarke replied, “It’s the way we do our business.”
Mayor Nutter, speaking after the Council meeting, said emphatically that Council needs to move on this.
“The time has come for a bill to be introduced, for hearings to be scheduled, for hearings to be had, and ultimately for City Council to take action, as legislators do,” the mayor told reporters.
When asked if he was frustrated by the pace of Council’s deliberations on PGW, Nutter said, “That’s generally not a word that I use. The process needs to move forward.”
For his part, Council President Clarke denied dragging his feet.
“One thing about this City Council, we do make decisions. We do not duck issues,” he said.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez says her constituents want this dealt with soon.
“I’m sensing the frustration from the community,” she said today, “and there is a sense of urgency for us to just have a public discussion.”
City Council has five more meetings scheduled this year, after today’s session.
UIL, the company that has offered to buy PGW, could choose to opt out of the deal at that point if the lawmakers have not acted.
Council has not yet released the findings of its own consultant, Concentric, which studied both the deal itself and the larger question of the best use for PGW.
Under the mayor’s plan, UIL Holdings, a Connecticut firm, would buy PGW for nearly $2 billion. One quarter of the proceeds would be used to shore up the struggling city workers’ pension fund.
Opponents have said putting the utility in private hands could subject residents to more frequent rate hikes and endanger relief programs.