The Philadelphia City Council’s Tax Reform Committee may be receiving unsolicited information

When Clout hears that city leaders are forming a blue ribbon committee or advisory panel to deal with one of Philadelphia’s intractable problems, we tend to assume they’re just kicking the can down the drain.

But the modern tax policy advisory group announced this week doesn’t sound like a delay tactic but more of a challenge.

First, a bit of history: Chairman of the Council Kenyatta Johnson in February, he supported a resolution to re-establish the Tax Reform Commission, an advisory panel created under city law in the early 2000s that had been inactive for years.

” READ MORE: Tax Reform 4.0 Commission? City Hall is once again trying to reform Philadelphia’s tax structure

The group met several times, and the appointees were chosen by the Council and the Mayor Chelle L. ParkerCity Controller Christy Bradyand local chambers of commerce – these are largely business-friendly individuals who seem likely to make the familiar recommendations: cut payroll taxes and reform or cut income taxes and business receipts.

But some left-wing critics of the council’s recent zeal to prioritize tax cuts have done research and found that the law that created the Tax Reform Commission also calls for the creation of another group, the Tax Reform Advisory Committee. The group is expected to include nominees from organizations that appear to be moving in a more progressive direction than the committee, including the local chapter of the NAACP, the group Asian Americans United and the Philadelphia AFL-CIO.

Despite no formal invitation from City Hall to form an advisory panel, some groups stepped up and appointed individuals who notified Parker and Johnson on Thursday that they had “formed” a new Advisory Committee and that “the committee has an obligation to consider our input.” “

It’s challenging to imagine that the two panels will agree with each other. For example, Fr. Gregory Holstonan NAACP appointee, stated that the commission was intended to “have a different perspective on taxes than certainly some business people.”

“As long as city services continue to be what they are, it is extremely difficult to not have other sources of revenue,” said Holston, senior policy and advocacy adviser for the D.A. Larry Krasneroffice.

It is not yet clear how Johnson plans to deal with self-starters. He declined to comment, but his office sent a statement from the committee’s co-chairs, former council chief financial officer Matt Stit and investor and former state official Richard Vague.

They said they were “working to convene members of the Tax Reform Advisory Group as soon as possible.”

Stitt and Vague added that the commission plans to hold its first public hearing in June and issue policy recommendations in the fall.

Fighting words

Republicans this year hope to turn the war in Gaza into a winning campaign issue by accusing their opponents across the aisle of weakness toward Israel. But one local Democrat who served in the military doesn’t like it.

It all started when the Republican National Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of GOP candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, asked itself whether Ashley EhaszU.S. Army veteran and Apache helicopter pilot challenging the U.S. representative. Brian Fitzpatrickbecame involved in “pro-Hamas activism”.

“I have proudly dedicated years of my life in combat, defending Americans and the American way of life from terrorist groups like Hamas,” Ehasz, who is running in the Bucks County-based 1st District, posted on the X. “For @RepBrianFitz – who never spent a day in uniform – and @NRCC now claims to support Hamas? To go [EXPLETIVE DELETED] myself.”

Without limits The response, posted with a photo of Ehasz sitting in an Apache, came after the NRCC, which supports Fitzpatrick, sharply criticized Ehasz for a $1,500 donation she received from Wendy Rockefeller. The current patriarch of the aristocratic family, David Rockefeller Jr.he sits on the board of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which finances the anti-Zionist organization Jewish Voices for Peace.

“Extreme Democrat Ashley Ehasz is proud to fund her campaign with funds from the same billionaires who are ensuring the anti-Semitic chaos sweeping college campuses,” NRCC spokesman Mike Marinella – it was written in the statement. “Voters need to know whether Ehasz agrees with their pro-Hamas activism or will he abandon their donations?”

Other Democrats quickly lined up behind Ehasz to criticize the NRCC, including Republican U.S. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, who is a member of the bipartisan and centrist Problem Solvers Caucus with Fitzpatrick.

“Partnership is one thing. Blatant attacks on the patriotism of those you disagree with, many of whom are veterans, are a naked attempt to divide our country,” Gottheimer said.

Fitzpatrick’s campaign was met with offense at Ehasz’s choice words. Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, served with U.S. Special Forces during the Iraq War, according to the congressional website.

“Ashley Ehasz’s comments about Congressman Fitzpatrick are false and defamatory,” campaign spokesperson Nancy McCarty he told Clout. “The matter has been referred to campaign attorneys.”

Parker to the parks

As mayor, Parker will play a key role in deciding the fate of the 76ers’ controversial proposal to build a new arena in Center City, and City Hall observers are scrutinizing every word she says on the subject to understand where she stands.

During last year’s campaign, for example, Parker did not stop at supporting the project but frequently touted its potential economic benefits, leading observers to assume that Parker’s victory was also a victory for the 76ers.

But in recent months, the mayor has said she’s also a big fan of a plan by Comcast Spectacor, owner of the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center and current owner of the 76ers, to transform the stadium complex in South Philadelphia. Following these comments, some began to wonder whether her enthusiasm for the 76ers’ plan was waning.

” READ MORE: Philadelphia stadium owners pay no property taxes. Here’s what this means for the Sixers’ arena proposal.

However, this week, Parker made it clear that once she made her decision, no one would have to read between the lines.

“I have no intention of being a passive party in the decision-making process,” Parker said in an interview with The Inquirer. “If I am opposed, I will be opposed and the people of Philadelphia will know I am opposed. If I’m for it, you can be sure people will know I’m for it.”

So how will Parker decide? The mayor said she is considering comments from the team and other stakeholders. He also plans to carry out field work on his own.

“I will soon be visiting several other arenas around the country to take a look at them. We will do it soon,” she said.

Parker said she has already visited Atlanta’s Battery – the mixed-use development and entertainment complex that includes the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park – and she loves it. (Clout will forgive her for praising something related to the Braves organization, since the Phillies lead the division.)

“We need to have our own battery here with our teams,” she said. “We deserve what they have in Atlanta. But Atlanta did it, so we have a chance to do it better.”

Clout suggested to the mayor that the Battery closely resembled Comcast Spectacor’s proposal for South Philly. She didn’t object.

“What position you take on this issue depends on where you sit,” she said. “Where I sit, I want to see as much economic opportunity as possible here in Philadelphia, so I don’t see the projects as competing with each other.”

Clout delivers often irreverent news and analysis about people, power and politics.

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