Michael Nutter

may have had his "brothers and sisters" moment this week when he called practices by contractors and unions "economic apartheid."

So it's good he got it out of the way before he takes office.

Nutter - despite the lurid rhetoric - and his colleagues are on the side of the angels on this one. The city, the unions and contractors must take action to make the industry as diverse as the city itself.

But in considering the obstacles, what often gets overlooked is politics. Union politics.

Labor leaders are elected by their members. They stay in office by keeping their members happy.

How do you keep union members happy? You keep them working.

And the more members you have, the more jobs you must have.

At any given time in this city, 20 percent of the building-trades work force is out of a job.

Inside an individual union, a leader can tolerate 20 percent of his membership grumbling. But if that number rises to 40 percent, for example, he might find his own job in jeopardy.

Like any politician, inside government or out, a union chief's first priority is survival.

"It is a balancing act," admits Pat Gillespie, leader of the Building Trades Council. "You want to be diverse, but you have to have jobs to keep everyone working. The prime directive of the building trades is to get the [construction] project."

To increase minority members, you begin with the apprenticeship program.

"Most apprenticeships take four or five years," Gillespie said. "So we have to look down the road and try to guess what the economy is going to look like. And then you decide, should we have a class of 25 apprentices or 50 apprentices?

"You try to be accurate because it's simply not fair to have someone go through five years of training and at the end of that, get only six months of work a year," he said.

Not to mention, a union man out of work half the year is not going to be happy with his union leadership.

Electricians union leader John Dougherty said that when he took over as chief, his union was nearly 100 percent white and suffering high unemployment.

Since then, he says, besides increasing work assignments, "probably 90 percent of [members] who joined under my tenure are from Philadelphia, and I've done more to be inclusive than any union not under a court order."

The union is a sponsor of the Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School, which has 75 percent minority enrollment and trains kids for jobs in the industry.

For this to pay off, there have to be jobs.

"When our members go to work in the morning, they're working themselves out of a job," Gillespie said. "If you have five rooms of drywall to put up, when you're done putting them up, guess what? You're on the bench."

So how do you increase minority membership without increasing unemployment?

"You do it judiciously," Gillespie said.

And the more jobs you have, the easier it becomes - politically - for a union leader to beef up his minority membership.

Nutter team to Street: Don't go!

Will teaching at Temple be Mayor Street's only post-City Hall job?

Maybe not. Suppose he applies for his old job, as he was invited to do by Clay Armbrister, the new mayor's chief of staff, in this letter (pictured above) sent out to all employees who serve at the pleasure of the mayor? And suppose they say . . . yes?

(As Ricky Gervais might say, "Not bloody likely.")

Alycia I: Wrong number

Clout thinks CBS 3 anchorwoman Alycia Lane has shown poor judgment.

No, not for allegedly hitting a New York City police officer. That could happen to anyone, right?

Lane's poor judgment was in telephoning Gov. Rendell. Sure, he's from New York, but he hasn't lived there in years.

Lane should've called John Timoney. The former Philly commish, now Miami's top cop, still has NYPD connections from his days as a top deputy to legendary NYC commish Bill Bratton.

Maybe things could've been settled quietly, with an apology.

Anyway, the next time she's in a tough spot, Lane should ask herself, "What would Sarah do?"

Can you imagine 6ABC's Sarah Bloomquist in this kind of a jam? As far as we can tell, she's perfect.

Still, CBS 3 needs to give Lane a second chance. Their newscast is about to pass longtime ratings leader 6ABC's "Action News." Lane's return would put them over the top.

Alycia II: It gets verse

Lane's predicament inspired one Daily News reader, who wished to remain anonymous, to offer the following (which she also posted on PhillyBlog):

"Alycia, Alycia, what have you done?

Hitting a woman who carries a gun?

Calling her dyke? Calling her bitch?

Sending her to ER for a bruise and a stitch?

Why didn't you stay in that cab and sit still

To save your salary of nearly a mill?

Are you so crazy about that guy Booker

That you'd risk looking like a low-class hooker?

You should have spent the night on your computer

E-mailing, for once, an unmarried suitor

Sending out some pictures of you looking hot

Instead of posing for a police mug shot."

Flavia joins CBS

Flavia Monteiro Colgan, Clout-created celebrity®, has inked a contract with "The Early Show" on CBS.

Colgan's deal is for 12 stories that she'll host and help produce over the coming year.

The subject matter?

"It will be about uplifting, young, cool, sexy fun things that you can do to better your community and make a difference in people's lives," Colgan told us.

Colgan will continue her TV gigs on "Inside Edition," "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Extra!"

Reports that she was seen chatting up Katie Couric at a Global Green charity event recently, prompted us to ask whether she might even pop up on Couric's "CBS Evening News."

"Who knows,?" she said, "I'm just excited to be doing "The Early Show." *

- Staff writers Gar Joseph and Dave Davies contributed to this report.