Darrell L. Clarke, the presumed Council president when the new legislative session begins Jan. 2, hosted his future colleagues -- including the six newly-elected members - for a steak lunch at Capital Grille on South Broad Street Wednesday.

Clarke described the private meal merely as "an opportunity for the 2012 class to meet" and bond, and said no official business was discussed. Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said before the lunch that the end-of-term gathering had been a somewhat regular tradition under outgoing President Anna C. Verna.

Brown, slated to become majority whip, also said that members were warned beforehand that items such as budgets and committee assignments were off the menu of discussion -- "They were surprised to hear that," she said.

After lunch, Clarke said he continued the presidential tradition of picking up the tab to build Councilmanic goodwill. When it was suggested therefore that he could have selected a less expensive spot -- say, the McDonald's on North Broad Street -- Clarke was quick with his response.

"You get what you pay for," he said.

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