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Nutter's chief of staff backed foe in primary

More than 106,000 Philadelphians voted for Michael Nutter in last May's mayoral primary. But Nutter's new chief of staff - Clarence A. Armbrister - likely wasn't one of them.

More than 106,000 Philadelphians voted for Michael Nutter in last May's mayoral primary. But Nutter's new chief of staff - Clarence A. Armbrister - likely wasn't one of them.

In a Friday interview, Armbrister said that he backed U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in the primary, an awkward fact that Nutter was willing to overlook.

"Michael and I talked about that, and I told him that I'd made a commitment that I kept," Armbrister said. "To his great credit, that didn't matter to him when it came time to put his staff together."

Armbrister said that even though he backed Fattah, he admired Nutter as a candidate. Armbrister gave Nutter's mayoral campaign $250 in 2006. He also contributed $500 to Fattah's campaign and $600 to State Rep. Dwight Evans' mayoral committee.

Nutter and his new chief of staff have known each other since college, where they were in the same class at the University of Pennsylvania. The two have crossed paths repeatedly through the years and consider themselves friends. But as Armbrister's support for Fattah attests, he clearly has not been one of Nutter's closest confidants.

"To be perfectly honest with you, I was a little surprised when I got the call," Armbrister said.

Now the chief operating officer of Temple University, Armbrister has served as city treasurer and managing director of the School District of Philadelphia. For Nutter, that experience, and Armbrister's sterling reputation, mattered most.

"He told me he was looking for the best people, regardless of anything else, and he made a very convincing case," Armbrister said.

- Patrick Kerkstra

Ex-speaker seeks PICA job

Sixteen years ago, he pushed through the legislation to create the agency. Now he wants to run it.

The who is former state House Speaker Robert W. O'Donnell. And the what is the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, the state agency charged with monitoring Philadelphia's finances.

Rob Dubow, the agency's executive director, will leave at the end of this month to become city finance director under Mayor-elect Michael Nutter.

O'Donnell - who these days is a lobbyist by profession - is lobbying for his job.

"I'm extremely hopeful about the Nutter administration," O'Donnell said. "But I really think the city is on the verge of another financial crisis, and I think PICA will play a big role."

He described his efforts as "preliminary" at this point, and said he wasn't sure if it was a "doable deal."

If it doesn't work out, he said, "I'm still a supporter of Nutter, and I'll get through the night."

- Marcia Gelbart

Inspector general's impact

Philadelphia Inspector General Seth Williams didn't get reappointed by Mayor-elect Michael Nutter, but he made an impact while in office, Committee of Seventy President Zack Stalberg said last week.

"Before Seth, nobody even knew the office existed," Stalberg said. "While he is a little young and may have made some mistakes, he made the office a lot more visible and a lot more aggressive."

Stalberg had criticized Williams for publicly discussing an investigation involving City Councilman-elect Curtis Jones and his severance package with the publicly funded nonprofit Philadelphia Commercial Development Corporation.

Williams' public statements identifying Jones as the subject of an investigation were particularly unsettling, Stalberg has said, because they came at the same time when Jones' chief political foe, Councilwoman Carol Ann Campbell, was pushing a bill to expand the Inspector General's powers.

Williams has yet to issue a report on that investigation, and said yesterday that he would discuss with his investigators whether they could complete it before his term ends.

Meanwhile, Campbell said that her bill to expand the power of the Inspector General would not be called before year's end, meaning it will die and have to be reintroduced by another council member next year.

Campbell, who lost to Jones in the May primary, said last week she would not push the bill, in part, because she did not like suggestions that it was a political reward for Williams' pursuit of Jones.

Nutter announced last week that he would appoint career federal prosecutor Amy Kurland Inspector General when he takes office in January.

As for Williams? Look for him as a District Attorney candidate in 2009.

- Jeff Shields