Kenney, Philly deputy mayor tangle over contracts at Council hearing

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 Philadelphia City Council member David Oh.(Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

Philadelphia City Council member David Oh.(Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

Going into budget season, the relations between Mayor Michael Nutter and Philadelphia City Council seem almost as frigid as the weather.

Tensions between the Nutter administration and Council members have been building for some time, but they hit new heights at hearings last week.

The administration is struggling to preserve its right to award one-year contracts — and even renew them — without Council’s approval.

Council needs to sign off on contracts lasting three years or longer.

When Councilman Jim Kenney likened the short contracts to the CEO of a business doing an end run on his board of directors, Mike Resnick, the deputy mayor for public safety, bristled during a hearing last week.

“That CEO would be out on the street,” Kenney declared.

“I don’t think the [City] Charter sets up this form of government, our form of government, such that Council is a board of directors,” Resnick retorted.

“This City Charter sets up a form of government with a strong managing director, but we don’t have that either,” Kenney countered.

Councilwoman Marian Tasco said she and her colleagues are asserting their power as a check and balance in municipal government.

“So if we have a question or issue to raise about an issue coming before us from the administration, we have the fiduciary responsibility to protect our citizens,” she said.

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