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u : 6 January 2006 • 9:38PM -0500

[UC] Lack of openness assailed... this is a big part of the UCD/NID problem too
by Krfapt


>From today's Inquirer (courtesy of that font of information fidelity, Al  

Posted on Thu, Jan. 05, 2006
More openness sought for Penn's Landing  Corp.

By Marcia GelbartInquirer Staff Writer

About two  weeks ago, City Councilman Jim Kenney went public with his anger
over how the  board that runs Penn's Landing, of which he is a member, voted in
secret to  approve the potential building of a waterfront casino.

Now he is calling  for the board to open its doors permanently and adopt the
state law that allows  for public scrutiny, known as the Sunshine Act.

"We are basically a  public corporation, with public land and public
appointees and public money,"  Kenney said. So even though current law allows the
Penn's Landing Corp. to make  closed-doors decisions, he says, he thinks it should
not do so.

The  nonprofit corporation manages almost 30 acres of city-owned property,
and last  year it received a city subsidy of $500,000. In 2004, it earned $7.8
million in  revenue. But it could reap $1.8 billion during the next several
decades if  Planet Hollywood soon wins a state license to build a slots casino on
waterfront  land.

In a letter yesterday to corporation president Joseph P. Brooks,  Kenney
wrote, "I am extremely troubled by the recent perception of the lack of  openness
and transparency," and he urged the corporation to "operate openly with  
public access to ensure accountability."

Brooks did not return a call  yesterday.

Last month, Brooks sought to downplay concerns about the  board's private
negotiations and eventual vote in favor of the casino. "When it  gets down to the
nitty-gritty of how a certain board member votes on a certain  issue, I don't
see how that's relevant," he said at the time.

Though the  meetings were secret, he said, the result was not.

Besides Kenney, Penn's  Landing Corp.'s 23-member board includes Mayor Street
and six of his appointees;  City Councilman Frank DiCicco; Redevelopment
Authority chairman John Dougherty;  and State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (D., Phila.).

Street's spokesman, Joe  Grace, said yesterday: "The administration supports
transparency and openness  wherever matters of interest to the public are
being addressed."

But  Grace would not say whether the mayor would support Kenney's  proposals.

Kenney said that if the corporation's staff does not draft  legislation that
can be approved at the next board meeting, he will draft it  himself.

No meeting has been scheduled.

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