Call it the resolution that wasn't - and maybe that's a good thing.
City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski's proposed legislation - later withdrawn - regarding the Christmas Village controversy might in the end have drawn the scrutiny of religious and First Amendment scholars.
Inspired by "A Visit From St. Nicholas," the legislation was written to resolve "that Christmas be celebrated and respected, honored, recognized and remembered by the City of Philadelphia."
One clause said:
"Whereas, In conclusion by disregarding and disrespecting Christians and their most sacred holiday - Christmas, there's a message we must send."
Christmas, however, is not regarded as the most sacred holiday. That's usually Easter.
Other parts of the resolution included clauses that "seem to indicate an intent to endorse or proclaim a particular faith," which could be problematic, said Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In the end, though, he guessed a court would not have invalidated it.
Whatever the case, be merry. Raise your eggnog, and read along to this nonexistent resolution:
"Whereas, It seems complaints forced the word 'Christmas' to be removed from public view, because the birth of Christ, offended a few, and "Whereas, No thought was given to the 2.1 billion Christians in the World who celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, because it's the few who complain that we have to remember,
"Whereas, No prayer in schools and 'Merry Christmas' or 'God Bless You' is prohibited, forget a Nativity Scene and the Ten Commandments can't be exhibited, and "Whereas, Maybe we have to celebrate Christmas in secret, so we don't get condemned, stop showing our faith, because we must not offend . . ."
- Marcia Gelbart
Doc invites Republicans to party
Heard in City Hall reported last week that electrician's union chief John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty was shedding no tears at the downfall of State Rep. Dwight Evans, the Philadelphia Democrat who lost his position as his party's ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee. And we reported that Dougherty might also have had some influence on what happened to Evans, even if it ended up sacrificing power to Western Pennsylvania.
Well, Johnny Doc wasted no time playing his advantage. For the last five years the electricians have held one of the big bashes at the annual Pennsylvania Society gala in New York, and with this year's event scheduled for this weekend, who might be the featured guests of honor? How about Gov.-elect Tom Corbett and Sam Smith, who will become speaker of the house in January? Both are Western Pennsylvania Republicans.
Word has it that the party wasn't even going to be held this year because of the poor economic climate and the delicate issue of partying at the Waldorf Astoria while many tradespeople are out of work. But then Corbett reached out to Dougherty, just to say he was looking forward to his event this year. And the party was on!
The event is hosted by Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Penn-Del-Jersey chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association. Dougherty, in an interview, was quick to point out that the cost is covered by marketing dollars paid for by contractors in the labor agreement that covers Local 98 workers. So, according to Doc, it's all about business.
"With all the alternative energy options out there, we just want people to understand what the men and women of Local 98 do for a living," he said.
Not that Republicans are strangers to this bash. As has become a tradition, gift bags will feature Asher's Chocolate, straight from GOP national committeeman Bob Asher.
- Jeff Shields
Policy and politics
There was plenty of high-minded tax policy being discussed at last week's City Council hearings, but the mayoral politics were just as rich.
Bill Green and Maria Quiñones Sánchez pushed a formidable bill that challenged popular tax-reform notions. Some, however, wondered whether Green wasn't a little anxious to get the bill passed before year's end, as a resume-topper for a challenge to Mayor Nutter in the Democratic mayoral primary in May. Green has not ruled out a 2011 run.
Green rejected that notion and, true to form, turned it on Nutter.
"Politics are being played the other way, for something that is good for Philadelphia, because it's perceived to be bad for Nutter politically," Green said.
"Once again, Green has it wrong," retorted Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, citing opposition to the bill from Wharton School economist Robert Inman, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the hotel industry and the city controller.
Speaking of City Controller Alan Butkovitz, we know that he would like to run for mayor one day, say in 2015. He has emerged as a dependable Green adversary and attended virtually every second of a day-and-a-half-long hearing in opposition to the bill.
And do not discount Sánchez, who conceived the bill back in 2008 as a way to capture taxes from out-of-town corporations doing business here. The politically savvy Sánchez might just like to become the city's first woman mayor in 2015.
The tax hearings resume on Dec. 15; the politics will continue until further notice.
- Jeff Shields