With a little education on the city's ethics law, and encouragement from a federal investigation into one of its members' offices, City Council is paying more attention to requirements for reporting freebie tickets.
On financial-disclosure forms for 2008 that were due May 1, four Council members reported free tickets. The leader was Bill Green, with more than $4,000 worth of passes ranging from a Kenny Chesney concert to the Philadelphia Car Show Black Tie Gala.
Any gift over $200 should be reported, unless it's from a family member.
Green included two tickets worth $600 total from Lana Felton Ghee Associates to the annual Urban League Dinner, $455 for seven tickets from the Eagles to a preseason game, and $525 from the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for tickets to the Good Dog Gala.
Council President Anna Verna listed one gift, from Mayor Nutter: Phillies playoff tickets, worth $260, in the mayor's box at Citizens Bank Park. Frank Rizzo reported $390 worth of Eagles tickets.
It was no surprise to see Councilman Jack Kelly report $500 tickets to a Covenant House fund-raiser. Kelly's former chief of staff, Chris Wright, was convicted in February on federal bribery charges based on an investigation fueled, in part, by an associate who said he had plied Wright and Kelly with tickets to games and concerts. Kelly, in fact, was the only one to report free tickets in 2007: $500 in passes to a Horizon House fund-raiser. - Jeff Shields
John F. Street has been out of office for nearly 18 months - but that hasn't stopped one of the six candidates running for district attorney, Dan McCaffery, from trying to make the former mayor an issue in tomorrow's primary.
Over the weekend, select voters received postcard-like mailers at home with a black-and-white photo of Street and a message, encircled by red hearts, that read: "Seth Williams and Dan McElhatton - candidates for district attorney only John Street could love."
It continued: "Hand-picked to root out corruption and fraud by John Street, Seth Williams never once investigated the scandal-ridden Street administration and his office. . . . Instead, Williams misused the office to conduct witch-hunt investigations against his and John Street's opponents."
Moving on to McElhatton, the mailer said: "John Street put McElhatton on the do-nothing Ethics Board as a political payoff. McElhatton did nothing but ask a federal judge for leniency for Leonard Ross, who plead guilty in a massive pay-to-play scandal."
The citation for both statements were articles that appeared in The Inquirer in the last three years.
The campaign piece was paid for by McCaffery's campaign committee.
Asked what the campaign was trying to convey by bringing Street into the race, spokesman Josh Morrow said only: "Both these guys have a connection to John Street. What we said in the mail piece is completely factual." - Marcia Gelbart
Thursday's Council meeting did little to dispel the manifest acrimony between Nutter and Council during budget negotiations, starting with the normally uncontroversial invocation of the meeting.
That's because it was given by Terrence D. Griffith, pastor of the First African Baptist Church and chair of the political action committee run by the Black Clergy of Philadelphia.
Griffith's group did not support Nutter in the 2007 election and apparently does not have Nutter's ear. Griffith says Nutter, at the beginning of his administration, told pastors in the group to "stick to preaching."
Well, Griffith stuck to preaching Thursday and stuck it to Nutter at the same time.
"God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far on our way, we have lost our way, and we need your guidance. We have fallen, and we just can't seem to get up. Please lift us. We are hemmed in on every side, and there seems to be no way out. We need your direction," he began.
He went on to pray for Council, asking that God "give them the daring to fight for causes others deem unwinnable" and "make their enemies their footstool." (Try identifying one enemy in particular.)