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Marge Tartaglione threatens to "punch out" reporter

If anyone suggests that her daughter's retirement is proof that the City Commission is corrupt, "I can jump over this table and punch you out," the elder Tartaglione said

City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione at meeting yesterday.
City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione at meeting yesterday.Read more

Philadelphia City Commission Chairwoman Marge Tartaglione has just two things to say about the scandal that forced her daughter, former Deputy City Commissioner Renee Tartaglione Matos, into retirement last month.

"It's over," Tartaglione said over and over yesterday.

And if anyone suggests that her daughter's retirement is proof that the City Commission is corrupt?

"Now if you say that, I can jump over this table and punch you out," the 77-year-old, nine-term commissioner said when questioned by a Philadelphia Weekly reporter during a meeting yesterday. "This is not corrupt."

Reporter Aaron Kase, 28, asked "how the public can have faith" that the commission runs fair elections when Tartaglione Matos admitted to nine violations of the city charter ban on political activity for city employees.

Tartaglione Matos resigned four days after the Board of Ethics alerted her on Nov. 12 that it had probable cause of those charter violations, including her raising funds for a candidate to challenge a family foe, state Rep. Angel Cruz; paying for campaign materials, and running a 19th Ward meeting while her husband, ward leader Carlos Matos, was is federal prison.

Tartaglione's staff burst into laughter when she spoke of punching the reporter, but that quickly turned to ire when Kase responded, "I'm right here."

"Wow!" said election supervisor Bill Rubin. "Relax."

Kase persisted, saying that he was looking for proof that the commission is not corrupt.

Tim Dowling, an election finance and documents specialist, accused the reporter of impugning the integrity of the commission's civil-service employees.

Tartaglione, who this week told the Daily News that she will seek a 10th four-year term next year, concluded the meeting by saying, "Knock it off," and then wishing happy holidays to all present.

Her daughter's troubles, along with the commission's record, are sure to be political fodder during next year's elections.

Al Schmidt, 2009 Republican candidate for city controller and senior adviser for the state GOP, was to announce his candidacy for the commission this morning.

Schmidt said he plans to "expose widespread and systemic misuse of public resources for partisan political purposes in recent Philadelphia elections."

Tartaglione didn't want to talk about her daughter after the meeting, although she said, "Sure I do," when asked if she could assure the public that her office is run free of partisan political activity.

Tartaglione said she was now looking for someone to take the job that her daughter held for 27 years.

"It's over," she said. "It's over. She's retired. It's over. I don't want her name brought up again. She's my daughter and I love her."