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Clout makes a sad face: A dull election short on shenanigans

The biggest polling place row of the day centered on a temporary tattoo.

HERE'S A FINE example of how sleepy yesterday's primary election was: The most noted case of polling-place skulduggery was a temporary tattoo given as a joke.

The Democratic primary for city controller dominated the otherwise eventless day.

Incumbent Alan Butkovitz's campaign rushed to court early yesterday after challenger Brett Mandel took a stroll through a South Philly polling place and offered - jokingly, his campaign said later - a campaign temporary tattoo to a poll worker with plenty of real tattoos.

"Illegal electioneering!" the Butkovitz crew cried.

A judge quickly issued an edict: No more Mandel temporary tattoos at polling places.

Best as we can tell, Mandel walked the straight and narrow after that brush with the law.

AVI cause and effect

Butkovitz defended a campaign palm card distributed by Philadelphia Phuture, a political-action committee funded by Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, calling him the only candidate "who can stop the reckless AVI plan."

Butkovitz conceded that his office does not have the power to stop the Actual Value Initiative, a controversial plan to change the way the city taxes property.

"If you're asking me if I can sign a piece of paper and stop AVI, there is no piece of paper," Butkovitz told us while campaigning.

But Butkovitz thinks his long and public critical analysis of the plan's problems has raised questions among City Council members and prompted possible court challenges to the plan.

That's a "cause and effect," Butkovitz said, that could indeed stop AVI in its tracks.

Local 98 said Philadelphia Phuture printed 30,000 of the cards.

Doc by the numbers

Speaking of Local 98, its leader John Dougherty emailed more than 32,000 people yesterday with a scathingly long takedown of Mandel.

Here's a breakdown by percentage of the email's 559 words.

* 49 percent of the words were about Mandel. A sample: "a conniving, lying political hack."

* 33 percent were about Dougherty. A sample: "I'm arguably the most vetted guy in this city."

* 18 percent were about Butkovitz. A sample: "My friend Alan Butkovitz may not be sexy."

Best inaccurate rumor

Developer Bart Blatstein, one of six contenders for the city's lone remaining casino license, says he will not be running for mayor if that venture fails.

Blatstein had a good laugh when he heard the rumor that went around the Famous Fourth Street Deli yesterday as local pols gathered to eat and gossip.

"No, we're going to win the casino license and build a spectacular project," Blatstein predicted.