Deafening protests forced Philadelphia’s mayor to abandon his annual budget address in the middle of his speech.
Mayor Michael Nutter left City Council chambers on Thursday amid chants from union members angry about the lack of contracts. They shouted, blew whistles, and stomped their feet to drown out his remarks.
“It was the most chaotic Council meeting in more than 30 years,” according to philly.com:
“This morning was fully anticipated,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke told philly.com. “I think the unions came here today with the intent of not letting the mayor have his budget message.”
Three of the city’s four biggest unions have been without contracts since 2009. Last month, Mayor Michael Nutter petitioned the state Supreme Court to intervene in the stalemate with District Council 33, which represents thousands of municipal workers.
Philly.com describes the scene:
Riled union members began arriving at City Hall three hours before the Thursday morning address, many carrying placards depicting Nutter as Bozo the Clown, while the ubiquitous union inflatable rat circled the building in the back of a truck.
Nutter entered the Council chamber to a deafening response of whistles and chants that showed no sign of abating. The mayor nonetheless placidly began reciting his speech into the microphone.
Clarke pounded his gavel and huddled briefly with Nutter, who returned to the microphone. The mayor only left the room after it was clear Council had gone into recess.
Nutter resumed his speech about an hour later elsewhere in City Hall as demonstrators protested outside the building.
Some have questioned how it was possible for so many union protesters to attend the address, suggesting that perhaps they were paid in sick days.
“The mayor’s spokesman, Mark McDonald, says the administration has no plans to look in to the matter: ‘We will not be pursuing that line of inquiry. We have neither the time nor the resources to follow up on that,’” CBS Philly notes.
“A spokesman for District Council 33, the largest of two non-uniformed municipal workers’ unions, tells KYW Newsradio that its members were notified weeks in advance of the protest plans, and he says many adjusted their schedules in order to have Thursday off,” the report adds. “The spokesman also noted that many of those in attendance were in other, non-municipal unions.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.