A Philadelphia City Council Committee has passed a bill tightening rules on city employees accepting gifts.Existing law vaguely bans taking gifts of “substantial economic value.” The new bill says city workers can accept something worth no more than $99.
Philadelphia Inspector General Amy Kurland says the bill also bars workers from accepting cash.
“The bill’s restriction of cash or money gifts sends a strong message to city officials and employees,” Kurland said. “We believe gifts of money raise particularly serious problems questions of improper influence and for this reason, the bill’s additional restriction represents an important improvement, over the current language.”
Not everyone is 100 percent behind the bill. Councilman Jim Kenney had words with Ellen Kaplan of the watchdog group Committee of 70. Kaplan criticized the idea of lawmakers accepting sports tickets, even if they pass them along to someone else.
“If I get four tickets to an Eagles game and I give them for four nuns who are working with the homeless, is that improper?” asked Kenney.
“I don’t think it’s improper I think you should disclose it,” replied Kaplan. “Why couldn’t you disclose it and the thing is why does the gift have to come from someone who has city business, you can do it from the mayor’s box?”
“I can’t get into the mayor’s box,” Kenney shot back, “are you kidding me?” Kenney has been a proponent of selling off the mayor’s boxes at the sports complex to benefit the school district.