AFTER FOUR months of uncertainty, the state board that oversees Philly's finances has been made whole.
State Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa quietly appointed lawyer Rhonda Hill Wilson to the fifth and final spot on the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority board April 30, the same day a Daily News story detailed political maneuvering around the vacancy. The appointment was due in January.
Each year, the board must approve the mayor's five-year financial plan with at least four of five votes. Last year, Mayor Nutter's budget came within a hair of being shot down, when outspoken board member Sam Hopkins voted no and Chairman Sam Katz considered joining him.
Katz, a former mayoral candidate, has promised to vote against the plan this year if Nutter can't negotiate deals with municipal unions that have been without contracts since 2009. Sources said Nutter asked that both Sams be canned. Gov. Corbett reappointed Katz earlier this year, but Costa, who appointed Hopkins two years ago, decided not to bring him back.
Wilson said she doesn't want to comment on PICA issues before her first meeting. But she indicated she may take a different approach from Hopkins, who had a more aggressive view of PICA's role.
"We are to monitor and to approve," said Wilson, who grew up in West Philly and lives in Bryn Mawr. "To me, 'monitor' doesn't mean become active. Monitor means to look at and to approve."
Wilson, a personal-injury lawyer, a former radio talk-show host and an advocate for the elderly, is undoubtedly an accomplished woman. But is she accomplished in what the PICA Act requires? The law says, "All members shall have had experience in finance or management."
Her peers on the board are a public-finance consultant, a business-school dean, a former mayoral chief of staff and a millionaire business mogul who had served on the city's school board.
Wilson said she has the requisite managerial experience: She runs her own law firm, she was treasurer of the American Association for Justice for two years and she serves on the Regional Port Authority board.
She said having a different background than the typical PICA board member will be an asset. She added that as a black woman, she'll be able to add a new perspective to the all-white, all-male board.
"Having diversity of thought, experience, background, voice, perspective, gender and race are important," she said.