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Clout: About that Iceland trip, mayor …

Mayor Kenney's office says it's a tradition for Philly mayors to travel abroad when new international routes are established. Not exactly, it turns out. Maybe he just wanted to go to Iceland.

Is that Mayor Kenney bathing in The Blue Lagoon?
Is that Mayor Kenney bathing in The Blue Lagoon?Read moreStaff photo illustration/ AMY RAUDENBUSH

Mayor Kenney finally arrived in Iceland on Wednesday night after Icelandair's maiden flight from Philadelphia to Reykjavik had been diverted to Boston the previous day. Some funky burning-rubber smell had spooked the pilots. Apparently, it was NBD.

But Clout has a minor bone to pick with Kenney's rationale for this trip.

As a councilman and mayoral candidate, Kenney criticized then-Mayor Michael Nutter's international travel to places like China, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Israel.

"If the mayor wants to go on the road, he should go on the road up the turnpike," Kenney said in 2013, arguing that economic development in Pennsylvania would better benefit the city's workforce.

Yet here we are, 17 months into Kenney's first term, and there's a tour of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa on his itinerary.

When we asked Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt about Kenney's apparent change of heart – dare we say hypocrisy? – about free international travel, she made it seem as if he was taking one for the team.

"It would have been seen as a snub for us to not partake in it when all previous mayors have done so," Hitt said, explaining that it is tradition when new international routes are established to Philadelphia International Airport for the mayors to visit one another's cities.

Except … not exactly.

It's true that, as Hitt mentioned, then-Mayor Wilson Goode flew to Switzerland in 1991 to mark the first Swissair flight to Philadelphia.

But Qatar Airways started service to Philly in 2014. Globe-trotting Nutter was not on the inaugural flight to Doha.

Ed Rendell said he took only one international trip during his eight years as mayor, to Germany. He said he believes one international carrier came to the airport while he was mayor, although he can't remember which one. But Rendell said that any time he was invited to take an inaugural flight to a city offering new service to Philly, he'd just go to the ceremony at the gate and skip the flight.

"If there are legitimate chances to close business deals, and the mayor is essential to closing it, then he should definitely go. It's worth the time and the effort," Rendell said. "To just go on exploratory missions, to knock on doors and to say, let me tell you about Philadelphia, you can send the secretary of commerce."

That said, Clout doesn't blame Kenney for wanting to fly 2,700 miles away from Philly. This city can wear you down. Around our office, the years-long Gallery renovation seems to have all of Market East ready to fight each other.

But if you want to go to Iceland, just say you want to go to Iceland. We understand. Hell, we want to go to Iceland.

Try the Manny ceviche

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez should get out the plates and silverware. Manny Morales is on the menu.

Morales, you may recall, ran a – let's say idiosyncratic – campaign for Sánchez's Seventh District seat in 2015. He had plenty of support from Sánchez's various political foes in the district, including State Rep. Angel Cruz.

It all went sideways for Morales when a review of his Facebook page revealed that it was riddled with homophobic, anti-immigrant, and racist posts. He claimed – unconvincingly – that his page had been hacked.

After she won the primary with 53.5 percent of the vote, Sánchez filed complaints with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics about how the Morales campaign was funded.

Two political action committees connected to Cruz settled with the Board of Ethics in May 2016, admitting to exceeding the city's campaign finance limits for supporting a candidate. The PACs were fined $8,000.

It was Morales' turn Tuesday. He and his campaign admitted exceeding the campaign limits and then not reporting where the money came from. The campaign was fined $6,000. Morales was fined $750.

Why did all this take two years?

"Some negotiations take longer than others," said Shane Creamer, executive director of the Board of Ethics (and a master of understatement).

Not so fast, Eddie

Back to Rendell for a second. He's the honorary chairman of the USA250 committee charged with raising funds to throw a big 250th birthday party for America in 2026.

Sources tell Clout that some city officials and USA250 board members are concerned about Rendell's involvement with the nonprofit.

Rendell, as chairman of the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention, authorized $1.2 million in bonus checks for DNC Host Committee staffers. News of the bonuses did not sit well in Harrisburg because state officials approved a $10 million grant to the host committee to help with convention costs.

The controversy might bite Rendell in the rear.

A City Hall source said the concerns stem from Rendell's attempts to become more active with USA250 fund-raising.

"City officials are questioning the wisdom of having him in such a public-facing role," the source said. Board members have been wary too about letting Rendell get too close to the money. No one wants a repeat of the DNC bonuses. "It's not a good look. We don't want that for the city," said another source familiar with the discussions.

Rendell, who as honorary chair would not have the power to make payroll and expense decisions, said he met with the USA250 board as recently as Tuesday.

"I will be paid the same amount as I was paid for the DNC, which is zero," he said. "I worked my ass off 3½ years for no pay. Your stories have yet to point that out."

When we told the ex-guv that people involved with USA250 were concerned about his involvement, Rendell said he had received numerous calls from nonprofits asking for fundraising help, despite news stories about the DNC mini-scandal.

"I have a tough time saying no to good causes," he said.

After speaking to Clout on Thursday, Rendell apparently called USA250 chairman Andrew Hohns to offer his resignation.

Hohns then called us to say that Rendell has been "an exceptional asset to the organization," and that as far as he is aware no board members had concerns about Rendell's involvement. Hohns asked Rendell to stay on as honorary chairman.

Staff writers Tricia L. Nadolny, William Bender, Chris Brennan, and Claudia Vargas contributed to this column. Tips: