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Philadelphia Network Updates: May 2008

Complied by staff

Editor's Note: Thanks to those organizations that keep aware of what is going on in their struggle for change!

Cab Drivers Merge to Create the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance and Win Important State Supreme Court Ruling

On Wednesday May 21st, the two organizations that represent Cabbies in Philadelphia, the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania (TWA-PA) and the Brotherhood of Unified Drivers and Owner Operators, merged to create the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance (UTWA). The organizations united in an effort to create one shared voice for the rights of cab drivers across the region. Muhammad Chughtai, President of the Brotherhood, explained, "this is an essential step in showing that we as cab drivers are united in our demands." Likewise, Ronald Blount, President of the TWA-PA, said, "the unification is an important step in our fight to get better working conditions for drivers across the region." In their first act as a united organization, the UTWA will hold an election for leadership in which all 5,000 citywide drivers are invited to vote.

Drivers also received a major boost from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which last week agreed to hear a case between the TWA-PA and the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) focused on whether the PPA is state or local agency. Cab drivers in Philadelphia charge that the agency is attempting to dodge regulation by not answering to either the Philadelphia City Council or the state legislature. Cab driver and UTWA member Patrick Anamah declared, "for too long the PPA has gotten away with corrupt practices which mute the voice of drivers and residents of the city." He went on, "with the conclusion of this lawsuit the PPA will be compelled to answer the concerns and needs of all Philadelphians, not just the bloated PPA bureaucracy." He concluded, "this will create better working and living conditions across the city and help re-purpose a part of the massive PPA budget to important concerns like Philadelphia Public Schools."

League of Women Voters Files Lawsuit: PA Supreme Court Upheld Slots Law in Exchange for Illegal Pay Raise

The League of Women Voters files a federal lawsuit alleging that the PA Supreme Court upheld the lots Law in exchange for an illegal pay raise.

Casino-Free Philadelphia has often been suspicious about the objectivity of the PA Supreme Court on casino related cases. We are not alone.

In May, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph Cappy, claiming that the high court sold its votes on the constitutionality of Act 71, the state's gambling law, in exchange for an illegal pay hike from the legislature. Read the AP article here.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court and claims that Cappy secretly met with legislative leaders to negotiate a bargain: the Court would uphold the constitutionality of Act 71 (which was near and dear to the hearts of many legislators) if the legislature would pass a pay raise for more than 1000 judges, including the other Supreme Court Justices and himself.

If the allegations of the suit are true, this seriously brings even more into question the integrity and independence of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court. These allegations cast a darker shadow over the court's many pro-casino decisions, such as last year's decision to knock our referendum off the ballot and the recent decisions stripping zoning power from the city. Many are concerned that this pro-casino trend will continue as the Court considers who has control of the riparian land adjacent to the SugarHouse site.

Daniel, Jethro, Nico, Lily and the rest of Casino-Free Philadelphia




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