For more than two years, the Street administration has been stymied by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell's refusal to introduce bills that would enable the city to build a new Youth Study Center in her West Philadelphia district.

So, why not simply ask another Council member to introduce the legislation, set hearings, and let the chips fall where they may?

The answer, quite simply, is that such a mayoral move would be a declaration of war against a Council member and potentially the entire body.

Mayor Street would be violating what's known as a district Council member's "councilmanic privilege" or prerogative - what amounts to a district member's veto power over any legislation, usually zoning and development related, that impacts his or her district.

You won't find this power enumerated in the city charter or even City Council rules. It's just a political tradition dating back to the mists of time.

But Street has made an end-run on the prerogative in the past, getting former at-large Councilman Thacher Longstreth to introduce a bill to develop land in the South Philadelphia district of Councilman Frank DiCicco, who was balking at introducing the bill.

So why not make the case that a new Youth Study Center is a citywide issue of major importance and get the issues out in public by having another administration ally introduce the bills?

"I have not ventured that with the mayor," said Joyce Wilkerson, Mayor Street's chief of staff. "I think we would rather work with the district Council person. If there are real issues out there in the community, we'll work to address them." *