In the 16 years Jim Kenney has been on City Council, his patience has admittedly worn thin. So it wasn't completely out of character for him to ditch a closed-door committee meeting Thursday on the proposed Verizon Communications cable franchise, and refuse to return to the public session, because he didn't like the direction the committee was taking.
Kenney said it was clear some of his fellow committee members - he singled out Councilman Frank Rizzo - were intent on holding up the Verizon proposal to bring its FiOS network to the city.
"I couldn't take it anymore," said Kenney. "I knew it wouldn't get out of committee, and Rizzo was trying to screw it up. He didn't even want to talk about anything. He didn't want it out of committee."
Kenney says Verizon may "get disgusted and go somewhere else" if Council places too many obstacles before them.
Rizzo, who is tight with lobbyist Larry Ceisler, whose clients include Comcast, said he wasn't going to let Verizon "ram this thing through" without further Council review.
Rizzo and several Council members said last week that they had been able to improve the Verizon plan by not rubber-stamping a bill that was first introduced Nov. 13. "We're going to make sure we get the best deal," Rizzo said.
The level of distaste between Kenney and Rizzo, never too far from the surface, is now fully uncorked. Rizzo has proposed an ethics bill that would prevent outside employment with companies doing business for the city, which Kenney has suggested is a direct shot at his job with Vitetta, an architecture and construction firm hired to renovate City Hall before Kenney got there.
"Jimmy must be under a lot of pressure," Rizzo said. "Maybe his part-time job as a councilman is starting to get to him."
Kenney has suggested Rizzo would not have his Council seat if he weren't the son of a former mayor.
Expect more of the same in the New Year.
- Jeff Shields
A campground preserved
Camp William Penn, which went from the paradise formerly known as Camp Happy to the summertime destination mothers invoked to frighten their children, will likely be saved as a campground under new state ownership, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez said.
Sánchez's bill authorizing the sale of the 677-acre camp in the Pocono Mountains to the state passed City Council on Thursday. The city's Recreation Department had recommended selling the 1929 facility, in Marshalls Creek straddling Monroe and Pike Counties, because the cost of repairs far exceeds its appraised value of under $1 million. The camp had deteriorated so much that Deputy Recreation Commissioner Leo Dignam described it this way: "The kids that go there don't want to go back."
One administration staffer said his mother used to threaten him with a trip to the camp when he misbehaved.
Sánchez said Michael DiBerardinis, secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and a former city recreation commissioner, has promised to devote the resources to renovate the camp. And Sánchez has an in with DiBerardinis: His son, Justin, is her legislative aide.
A private party has already offered to raise money and establish programs that would also be offered to city kids, Sánchez said.
- Jeff Shields
Clinton and Nutter, back together
Mayor Nutter stood right by Hillary Rodham Clinton's side throughout Pennsylvania's Democratic primary campaign for president.
And two days ago, she was scheduled to stand by Nutter's side at a party he was hosting during the 110th Pennsylvania Society weekend in New York - the annual gathering of state leaders at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
The Nutter for Mayor campaign sent invitations to about 100 guests to attend an afternoon reception at Buddakan, the New York spin-off of Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr's Old City original.
"We are all going to be up there, and I thought it was a good idea to see some friends before the end of the year," said Scott Freda, Nutter's finance director. Dick Hayden, Nutter's frequent political adviser agreed, Freda said.
The party was not a fund-raiser, but it was held, in part, to thank his fund-raisers who've been hard at work.
As a result, while Nutter might be short of funds in City Hall, he seems to have had no problem finding campaign cash to spread around.
The Inquirer reported in September that he donated $150,000 to the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee. It turns out he didn't stop there.
His campaign ponied up $50,000 in October for the Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee, and $25,000 for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
Nutter during his mayoral campaign talked about forging stronger relationships with Harrisburg and the counties surrounding Philadelphia. Sharing the wealth, it seems, is one way he is seeking to do that.