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Another reboot for city tech office

A year after overhauling the city's information-technology office, Mayor Nutter is . . . overhauling the city's information-technology office.

A year after overhauling the city's information-technology office, Mayor Nutter is . . . overhauling the city's information-technology office.

Without so much as a news release, the mayor recently signed an executive order - the ninth of the year - that dramatically changes city governance of technology-related issues for the second time.

The action the mayor took last year established the Division of Technology in place of the decades-old Mayor's Office of Information Services. It also outlined the duties of the chief information officer leading the division.

Nutter's latest move goes further. It changes the title of chief information officer to chief technology officer, and establishes the chief technology officer - who is Allan Frank - as a member of the mayor's cabinet.

Most important, though, the executive order centralizes the city's entire information-technology system - including employees and equipment. Instead of 33 city departments running individual computer servers and hardware, there will be just one: the Division of Technology.

And instead of 33 departments having individual technology workers, all those IT employees will report to the chief technology officer. That means Frank, who began his job in September, will oversee about 520 people, a big jump from the 160 workers who now report to him.

"I'm trying to consolidate and simplify," Frank said, adding that doing so would also save money. "The executive order basically gives me the ability to direct and control IT personnel in the city."

Will that mean a need for fewer employees and the elimination of some positions?

"I wouldn't say it like that," Frank said, but "I guess one can draw that conclusion."

- Marcia Gelbart

Fumo term a turn for the bettor

The incomparable Philadelphia Public Record had an intriguing take on the light 55-month sentence former State Sen. Vince Fumo received last week. The surprisingly short prison term was, according to the Record, a big win for South Philadelphia bookies, who were taking 6-5 odds on the sentence.

"The bookies are indebted to Vince," the paper claimed.

Published and edited by former City Councilman Jim Tayoun - who himself served time on corruption and tax-evasion charges - the Public Record purports to wield influence and power "with an impact not felt from any other publication since Tom Paine's 'Common Sense.' " Reading the Record's observations on Fumo's post-prison future, it is hard not to wonder whether, perhaps, Tayoun's own experiences influenced the paper's opinion.

"Though Fumo will spend a total of 55 months in prison, there is no doubt he will return to Philadelphia a folk hero, much like some of the other political leaders in the past who served their time but came back with their constituencies relatively well intact," the Record wrote.

"In fact, if it were not for a Pennsylvania law prohibiting felons from holding office, many of them would have easily been reelected to the offices they have held."

- Patrick Kerkstra

Convicted aide's hard times

While multimillionaire Vince Fumo prepares for prison, the star of a much lesser public-corruption drama is reportedly broke and trying to raise money to keep himself out of jail.

Christopher Wright, the former aide to City Councilman Jack Kelly, was convicted in February on a 2008 bribery and conspiracy indictment that accused him of accepting a rent-free apartment and a $1,000 check from two developers and their lawyer while he was helping them with their city business.

Wright, developer Ravinder Chawla, and Chawla's company lawyer, Andrew Teitelman, face sentencing in August, and are all free on bond.

Last week their attorneys argued that their convictions should be thrown out because the jury didn't have adequate evidence to convict them. Judge Eduardo Robreno is expected to rule on those motions before sentencing. Hardeep Chawla, Ravi's brother, was acquitted at trial.

Wright's financial problems were documented at trial - one of the favors Teitelman did was help Wright avoid foreclosure on his house. Saying he has exhausted his resources and those of his family, Wright has opened the Chris Wright Legal Defense Fund and is holding a fund-raiser at Finnigan's Wake on Aug. 7, three days before his scheduled sentencing on Aug. 10.

- Jeff Shields

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