CITY COUNCIL President Darrell Clarke held a hearing Monday in hopes of discussing with the Nutter administration ways to improve the city's video-surveillance program, but no one from the mayor's team showed up.

"They couldn't be here because [Joe] Biden was in town," Clarke said. The vice president was in Philadelphia on Monday meeting with local law-enforcement officials to discuss gun violence. Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said that some officials were at the Biden event, while Everett Gillison, Nutter's chief of staff, was sick.

Clarke, who led the charge years ago to develop the surveillance network, visited Baltimore with several other Council members last month to see that city's program. It has 622 cameras, 97 percent of which are functioning, contributing to a 25 percent drop in crime.

A report last summer by City Controller Alan Butkovitz revealed that fewer than half of Philly's cameras were working. Since then, McDonald said, improvements have been made, and 155 of the 216 cameras are working.

Clarke hopes that the administration will take the lead on the issue.

"We're going to be asked to put, according to a news conference, $40 million toward systems to upgrade tax collection," Clarke said. "Tax collection is very important. Public safety, I think, is a little, a little higher."

- Jan Ransom