By Joshua Albert
Yesterday’s news broke that the Nutter administration has allegedly set up a 24 hour hotline for the rich, powerful, and connected Philadelphia residents who might need municipal services during times that the city’s other 1.5 million residents may not be able to get them, according to City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
Butkovitz, rumored as a potential Mayoral candidate, discovered the findings during a routine audit, to be released later this year. The audit found that $164,000 in overtime was payed to 6 employees who manned the 24 hour “VIP” call center, and three of the six employees nearly doubled their salary.
3-1-1 is a service to the city launched by Nutter in 2009 that helps Philadelphia residents obtain municipal services and information. Normally the service only operates 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday.
The administration was quick to respond and deny Butkovitz’s findings. Richard Negrin, Philadelphia’s Managing Director and also a rumored potential Mayoral candidate, told KYW:
“It is not a ‘VIP’ line. There is no outside, public-facing component of this. This is not a number for people on the outside to call someone well-connected in City Hall. And, quite frankly, if the controller had picked up the phone and called me (or) our chief of staff, he would have learned that and could have avoided what I think is an embarrassing press release on his part.”
Mayor Nutter’s Chief of staff was also quick to discredit the allegations, telling Chris Brennan from The Daily News::
Everett Gillison, Nutter’s chief of staff, said the six people who answer the phone line are the “nerve center for the city,” answering calls only from city employees and elected officials. “This is continuity of government,” Gillison said, noting that previous administrations had the same setup. “This is not ‘I’m a VIP and I want to get something done.’ ”