Feisty City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell meekly gave up her position as majority leader yesterday, saying she would support longtime foe Councilwoman Marion Tasco for the job.
What Blackwell didn't mention was that Tasco had already collected enough support to win in a head-to- head battle.
"Well, basically, I put the votes together during the summer," Tasco said. "In August, I had eight votes."
The caucus of 14 Democrats requires eight for a majority.
Of Tasco's support, Blackwell said, "I don't know whether or not that's true. People always say that when it's over."
Blackwell, who has held the post since 1999, said she could always handle a fight, but would instead prefer to focus on her district.
"I'm a pretty independent thinker and I decided this is what would be best for the full Council," Blackwell said. "It will really free me up to work in areas I want to."
Blackwell said she would also support Council President Anna Verna, and Councilman Darrell Clarke as majority whip. Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. competed with Clarke for whip, but couldn't get the votes.
Verna applauded Blackwell's announcement.
"I do believe her decision was made in the spirit of unity," Verna said. "And with the Michael Nutter administration starting in January, I'm optimistic we will enter a new era of cooperation."
While on Council, Nutter frequently worked with Tasco, but often bumped heads with Blackwell. So the switch may bode well for his administration.
Of course, until recently, Blackwell had been talking about aiming higher and taking on Verna for Council's top job. What went wrong?
Well, the combative councilwoman has her detractors. Blackwell has battled intensely with political enemies as well as allies; for example, her protracted war with Mayor Street over the relocation of the Youth Study Center.
But perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back was Blackwell's decision in the spring to support millionaire candidate Tom Knox for mayor. In exchange, Knox said he'd back Blackwell for Council president.
It was a bold move by Blackwell and it misfired, making her more unpopular on Council. Knox lost the primary election.
But Blackwell yesterday insisted that her Knox support didn't cause her to step down.
"Not one Council person supported Michael Nutter. They can say that now. That's anybody's opinion," she said. *