MAYBE it's a good thing that City Council just broke for a three-month recess. We think a little cooling-off time might be in order for some members who are seriously whipped up about the Board of Ethics.

Marian Tasco, Council majority leader, was out front with those complaints. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, the latest to feel the lash of the Board of Ethics, has now joined in that very public campaign.

First, the board upset some on Council by taking action on campaign-finance issues involving Seth Williams and Dan McCaffery, two candidates for district attorney, just before last month's primary election. Then Shane Creamer, the board's executive director, turned himself in and paid a $500 fine for violating rules by disclosing information before the Williams investigation was over.

Tasco wanted Creamer to lose his job. Mayor Nutter called for a better investigation. The board said no way to both of them.

Then the board asked a judge last week to fine QuinonesSanchez $7,500 for using more than one political committee to place campaign ads in newspapers last year.

She complained that she hadn't had a chance to explain what happened before the board demanded that she settle the case.

Not so, said the board, pointing to a May 7 meeting that she and her attorney had with board staffers. Quinones-Sanchez was rejected when she asked for a hearing on the issue before the Board of Ethics.

She said yesterday that she was "compelled" to make a speech in Council about what she described as a "re-interpretation of campaign-finance law."

"As everyone knows, I have a disagreement with the Board of Ethics on some procedural matters that I believe deserves further public discussion," Quinones-Sanchez said. "I will soon have my day in court, since I was not afforded one before the Board of Ethics."

She had a chance yesterday to question the Rev. Damone Jones Sr., recently appointed by Nutter to the Board of Ethics. She wanted to know if "court proceedings are the only method to make sure people comply and acknowledge mistakes."

Jones, who will come up for a final approval vote when Council reconvenes in mid-September, said that going to court should not be the only remedy. He added, following a leading question from Quinones-Sanchez, that the board should not discuss "in the court of public opinion" any current court case.

"Thank you," she said.

No tax debate for Rendell

Gov. Rendell has turned down an offer from the Harrisburg public television station to debate Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati, also the GOP Senate president pro tempore, on the need for an income-tax increase.

Instead, he and Scarnati will each tape a 30-minute interview with the television station.

PhillyClout can't believe Big Ed has turned camera-shy. Usually, Rendell is as likely to turn down TV time as he is to give up his spot in line for a cheesesteak.

Sevy Verna - our kind of guy

We pay respects this week to Severino "Sevy" Verna, husband of Council President Anna Verna and longtime Columbus Day parade marshal. Verna, 79, died Saturday; his funeral was Wednesday at St. Rita of Cascia, in South Philly. The beautiful church was filled with lovely music from a five-piece string section in the choir loft as people lined up for the viewing. Several heads turned up when one familiar tune started. It was "I'm in the mood for love."

Sestak gears up

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak isn't backing down from his plans to run against Sen. Arlen Specter next year in the Democratic senate primary. And if he does run, he'll likely have media consultants The Campaign Group on his team. The media operation worked on Sestak's 2006 and 2008 House campaigns. J.J. Balaban said that they would be excited to work again for Sestak if he enters the race.

"I think Joe Sestak would give Arlen Specter the race of his life," Balaban said. "Arlen has 30 years of Republican votes he'd have to explain to a Democratic primary electorate. It's pretty hard to explain to Democrats why you voted for George Bush's tax cuts, why you voted for the war in Iraq."

Quotable

"I want to say what I have to say in my newly imposed Zen-like calm that I've brought upon myself."

- City Councilman Jim Kenney, prefacing his remarks yesterday about the defeat of a plastic- bag ban he proposed. *

Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail

Check out the Clout blog at: www.phillyclout.com.

CORRECTION: This column misidentified a candidate in last month's primary election for District Attorney as Seamus McCaffery. The candidate was Dan McCaffery.

Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail phillyclout@phillynews.com.