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Labor leader to stay aboard port authority

John J. Dougherty was reappointed by Rendell. Rival Frank DiCicco's DRPA fate is pending.

Gov. Rendell on Friday reappointed Philadelphia labor leader John J. "Johnny Doc" Dougherty to the governing board of the Delaware River Port Authority, which operates four toll bridges and the PATCO commuter rail line.

A day earlier, Gov. Corzine had appointed three new commissioners and reappointed five others to the politically connected bistate board.

"Doc - Thanks for doing a great job supporting us here," Rendell wrote on the reappointment letter sent Friday to Dougherty, the business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and an unsuccessful candidate last year for state Senate.

There was no word on whether Rendell would also reappoint City Councilman Frank DiCicco, whose term expires in September. DiCicco and Dougherty are rivals in Philadelphia Democratic politics. Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said last month that Rendell would confer with new board chairman John H. Estey about the appointment and decide soon.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey each have eight representatives on the board, which has been influential in economic-development spending on both sides of the Delaware River and which oversees an agency with a $281 million operating budget and a $104 million capital budget this year. Board members are unpaid.

The board has been substantially revamped in recent months.

Rendell stepped down as chairman last month, appointing Estey, his former chief of staff and longtime stand-in as chairman. He also appointed another ally, former Pennsylvania Treasurer Robin Wiessmann, to return to a seat five months after she left. She replaced Rep. John Perzel (R., Phila.).

The port authority operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry, and Betsy Ross Bridges between Philadelphia and South Jersey; the PATCO commuter line; and the RiverLink Ferry between Camden and Penn's Landing.