August 2: Unions picket Convention Center | L&I critic testifies at building collapse hearing | Pa. voter ID law in judge’s hands | The $50 million school funding question | Chinatown garage turned gallery

Hey there, Eyes on the Street! Here’s what people are buzzing about on this beautiful Friday morning. 

Four unions picketed outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center for roughly 12-hours yesterday. Around 9 a.m. the carpenters, stagehands, Teamsters and riggers unions began protesting a proposed contract that the unions said would weaken their jurisdictional rights and erode member work hours. Picketing ended after an agreement was reached to, among other things, provide unions with a 2.5 percent pay increase for one year. 

Bennett Levin, who ran the Department of Licenses and Inspections in the Rendell administration, criticized the department at a hearing on this summer’s fatal building collapse. Levin charged that L&I’s performances has deteriorated since the mid-1990s and has already contributed to a string of fatalities that preceded the fatal 22nd and Market building collapse. Mayor Nutter issued a statement that Levin was out of touch with the department’s current operations. 

The fate of Pennsylvania’s voter identification law is in the hands of a Commonwealth Court judge after closing arguments in the landmark voting-rights case were presented Thursday, the Inquirer reports. During the 12-day trial, the state argued that it had done its part to ensure that all registered voters had access to mandatory ID. Opposition countered that those efforts were not enough. 

With schools scheduled to open in less than six weeks, key elements of the district’s funding package remain unsettled. Still in question is the $50 million at stake in the debate over the use of the city sales tax toward the school district’s budget. Governor Tom Corbett and the state General Assembly approved extending a one-percent city sales tax increase enacted in 2009 and diverting the funds to the school district, but it is not clear if Philadelphia City Council members will agree to approve the sales tax extension, at least not as Harrisburg proposed. 

Tonight, during the August 2 First Friday, artist Christine Haw will debut the previously abandoned Chinatown auto shop she and a dedicated group of volunteers have transformed into an art gallery. For one night only the garage/gallery, former home of Max RPM, will feature the work of 15 artists, live performances and food. Haw hopes the transformation will open the space up for other art events in the future. 

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along. | Follow us on Twitter @EOTSPhilly | Like us on Facebook | Share your Philly photos in our Flickr Group

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