Oct. 21, 2005, was not a good day for the family of then-City Councilman Rick Mariano.
The previous day, a Thursday, Mariano had taken the elevator alone up to the top of the City Hall tower, where his actions frightened his friends and colleagues, who thought the beleaguered councilman might hurt himself. Mariano, known to carry a 9mm Glock strapped to his ankle, knew at the time that, in four days, he would be indicted on federal corruption charges. Though he would deny that he was suicidal, shortly after descending the tower, he checked himself into Pennsylvania Hospital.
The next day, at the request of his concerned family, Philadelphia police took his firearms - four handguns, four rifles, and a shotgun - for safekeeping.
But it turns out that Mariano's family picked the wrong place to put his guns. In January 2008, a clerical mix-up resulted in his collection's being melted down along with other kinds of firearms the department periodically destroys. Family members discovered this recently when trying to claim the guns for the purpose of selling them.
"It's obvious this wasn't supposed to happen," said Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman. "It looks to be just an error."
Vanore said he was not aware of anyone's being disciplined because of the error.
Mariano's recourse? Vanore said the department told the family it could file a claim with the city and would be reimbursed for the destroyed guns, which included a Romanian AK-47 rifle. Vanore had no estimate of their value.
Mariano's family could not be reached for comment. The ex-councilman is serving a 61/2-year sentence and is due out of the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Facility in March 2012. - Jeff Shields
The cancellation of the Columbus Day Parade and the struggles of five other of the city's ethnic parades have raised the ire of event organizers and the politicians who support them.
In speaking with organizers of the four fall parades, it was clear that each had to haggle separately with the Nutter administration about costs. The tab for police and street-sweepers - picked up by the city until this year, due to budget constraints - apparently started around $29,000.
From there, the Columbus Day Parade organizers got costs down to about $12,000.
The Steuben Day Parade on Saturday got all the way down to $4,000. The Puerto Rican Day Parade yesterday is paying $21,000, with half down and a payment plan over 90 days. The Pulaski Day Parade organizers are still trying to figure out how to trim their bill.
The lower prices have to do with shorter routes and fewer police required, but Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, directly involved in negotiations over the Puerto Rican Day Parade, wants to look at the city's pricing for the not-for-profit organizations that sponsor the events.
She said she would offer a resolution Thursday calling for hearings to look at parade fee structures - "so we can have a public way for the city to support these volunteer-driven ethnic parades." - Jeff Shields
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics only recently became fully functioning with the appointment of the Rev. Damone B. Jones Sr. to the fifth of five board seats - but now the board is down a member again.
Phoebe Haddon, until recently a professor at Temple University's Beasley School of Law, resigned her seat earlier this month. She is the new dean of the University of Maryland School of Law.
Last time, it took Mayor Nutter more than six months to name someone to the vacancy finally filled by Jones.
Asked about the process this time, Nutter spokesman Doug Oliver said that the mayor was aware of Haddon's resignation and that he wanted to fill the spot "as soon as possible."