Labor disputes typically bore us, but Clout couldn't ignore this tip from Washington when it came across our desk.
Former Philadelphia mob boss Ralph Natale's daughter, now a lawyer in the District, is ensnared in a knock-down-drag-out fight with a judge who accuses her of "strong-arming" him with some, uh, familiar tactics – including referencing her Mafia heritage.
Jesse Goode, an administrative law judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings, filed the unfair-labor-practice complaint this month against Vanessa Natale, the office's general counsel.
Goode, president of the local labor union for administrative judges, says Natale entered his office in March and informed him that anonymous letters in his file had left him "at peril" of not being reappointed as judge.
According to Goode, Natale suggested that his problems would go away if his union made concessions in a separate labor matter within the office.
"That's what I need you to do," Natale told Goode, according to a complaint Goode filed with the Public Employee Relations Board.
But that's not what caught our attention.
After the March 22 meeting with Natale, Goode notified a national union official – and other colleagues – and documented the conversation that evening with a detailed email that said in part:
"Weirdly, Ms. Natale also talked for a bit about the fact her father was a 'mob Boss' in 'Philly,' how he spent 20 years in prison because of his mob activities, and she had to testify at his sentencing hearing." Goode added, "It was very strange. It felt like she was trying to show me that she is tough, connected to tough people, and a street fighter. …"
Uh-oh. Contemporaneous notes, a la James Comey, the FBI director who was canned by President Trump.
Paul Shearon, secretary-treasurer of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the umbrella union that represents Goode and other administrative judges, confirmed that Goode reported the alleged shakedown March 22, and that Goode said then that Natale had mentioned her father.
"I did a quick Google search and found out who her father was and thought, 'Holy s–,'" Shearon said. "This is extremely unusual, to say the least."
Vanessa Natale was none too pleased about Goode's allegations when we got her on the horn.
"No, no, no, no, no, no. He's lying," Natale said. "It's very dirty, what they're doing."
Natale said Goode is just angry that the office's chief administrative law judge wrote in a letter June 20 that he wasn't supporting Goode's reappointment.
Then, 11 minutes after we hung up with Natale, Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto called and said Goode's allegations had no merit.
"This is some low-level critter judge trying to save his skin," Bochetto said.
We have not heard back from Bochetto since we told him that Goode emailed notes of the Natale meeting in March – three months before the letter that Natale said triggered his accusations.
As a side note, Vanessa Natale used to be BFFs with Ruthann Seccio, Ralph Natale's ex-mistress. He met Seccio back in 1994 when she was sunning by the pool with Vanessa.
"That's how I met Ralph," Seccio told us this week. "We were seeing each other for a while, and when she found out, we just distanced ourselves."
Last time we wrote about Seccio, she was threatening to go after Ralph with an "8-pack of TNT" because he dissed her in his memoir.
We hope that doesn't come to pass.
PPA cuts journo some slack
We've been pretty hard on the Philadelphia Parking Authority this year, but it turns out they do have a heart. Last week, Josh Cornfield, an Associated Press editor and Daily News alum, posted a note on his car, parked in Northern Liberties, saying that his sister had just delivered twins and he was babysitting her daughter.
"Hope you can let me slide on two-hour limit. Thank you," Cornfield wrote.
A PPA officer left a blank ticket and replied: "This is not a ticket. 1st, congrats to your sister. 2nd, get your car inspected."
With a smiley face at the bottom.
Splish-splash, pols takin’ a bath
It's been hot outside this week — darned hot. Your loyal Clout contributors gasped for air when we stepped outside the air-conditioned Inquirer and Daily News offices.
Normally it's the toxic mixture of bus fumes and body odor that smothers the Market East corridor like an old wool blanket. This time, it was the swamp-like humidity. Made us think about how much happier we could've been if we'd spent the day swan diving into a city pool like City Councilman Mark Squilla.
Speaking of which: The councilman suggested last month that he might challenge his colleagues to jump into public pools in their districts next year, too.
But what it we upped the stakes a little bit? That's right, gang, it's time for a reader poll. (Did we mention how slow things get for Clout during the summer months? Real slow. Tumbleweed slow.)
If you could (gently) push one local pol into a swimming pool, whom would it be? Maybe we can work out a charity angle here.
Let us know your top picks and we'll post them in next week's star-studded edition of Clout. Email: email@example.com.
"My God, this kid was dropped on his head as a child!" – Republican strategist Ana Navarro, referring to Donald "Fredo" Trump Jr.
Staff writers William Bender, David Gambacorta, and Jason Laughlin contributed to this column.