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Former City Solicitor eyes 2015 bid for mayor

Ken Trujillo puts focus on education, job creation and public safety

Philadelphia attorney Ken Trujillo during interview at Le Pain Quotidien at 8th and Walnut St. on Wednesday, August 7, 2013. ( ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER )
Philadelphia attorney Ken Trujillo during interview at Le Pain Quotidien at 8th and Walnut St. on Wednesday, August 7, 2013. ( ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER )Read more

KEN TRUJILLO came to Philadelphia 30 years ago, a kid from a dirt-poor upbringing and a shot at a better life via the University of Pennsylvania's Law School.

Now, after a public career at the city, state and federal levels, along with a private legal practice and ownership of a local radio station and television affiliate, Trujillo wants a shot at mayor.

The former city solicitor under Mayor John Street is registering a political-action committee, possibly as early as today, for that goal.

"This is something that I'm just very passionate about," Trujillo said this week over coffee.

Trujillo, who also served on the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority and the state Gaming Control Board, said he is troubled by the lack of opportunities for many young people in this city who may not catch the breaks he did as a young man.

"Philadelphia is increasingly looking like a tale of two cities, the city for the haves and the city for the have-nots," he said.

Trujillo is quick to cite issues he wants to tackle as mayor: education, public safety, job creation.

Some of these problems have stymied Mayor Nutter.

Trujillo has a year and nine months until the 2015 Democratic primary election. He'll need the time to flesh out his approach.

An example: Trujillo says he wants to reduce the size of government and tackle the underfunded municipal pension fund.

The next mayor may inherit Nutter's four-year contract stalemate with white- and blue-collar municipal unions.

Asked how he will bring the unions on board with his policies, Trujillo talks of having "an honest discussion" with workers.

Speaking of Nutter, our current mayor won the five-man 2007 primary election in part by running against the one guy not on the ballot: the departing and, at the time, unpopular Mayor Street.

Nutter is not winning any popularity contests these days. Will Trujillo, who will likely face a crowded primary if he follows through with a campaign for mayor, use Nutter's tactic?

Maybe he already is. Trujillo praises Nutter's focus on ethics and integrity in government but contrasts it to his record.

"That is not an approach to how to govern," he said. "It's a base from which to govern but it can't be the only thing you stand for in governing."

The vanishing feds case

The U.S. Attorney's Office filed charges one year ago yesterday against a chiropractor, accusing her of running a records scam that cost the city of Philadelphia more than $400,000 in fees.

And then . . . nothing.

The case was interesting because the charges, trumpeted with a news release by the feds on Aug. 8, 2012, included 16 references to a state representative from Philadelphia, identified only as "Person # 1."

That politician convinced the city's Department of Records, in a meeting and through letters, to give Dr. Ethel Harvey free access to police and fire department accident records, which normally cost $25 per copy.

The charges say the politician "falsely" stated that Harvey was doing a research project about "seat-belt injuries on African-Americans" and the reports were not for her economic gain.

The feds called that bunk, claiming Harvey used the reports to find new clients for her practice.

The Inquirer soon linked Harvey to state Rep. W. Curtis Thomas through campaign contributions.

And then Harvey's case disappeared from the public record, a likely sign that the U.S. Attorney's Office asked a federal judge to seal the records.

Harvey was charged through an "information" instead of an indictment, which means she waived her right to have her case presented to a grand jury.

Sounds as if she's cooperating with the feds. And that could mean trouble for "Person #1."

Nino Tinari, Thomas' attorney, said he has heard nothing for awhile about the case. He said the feds can't prove that Thomas did anything other than routine constituent service for Harvey.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment about Harvey or the case.

Harvey, who faces a raft of tax problems with the city, state and federal government, did not respond to a request for comment.

Makadon Memorial

A memorial service will be held Monday for Arthur Makadon, former chairman of the law firm Ballard Spahr LLP, who died July 23 from lung cancer. He was 70.

The service will begin at 10 a.m. at the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on South Broad Street.

Makadon, influential in state and local politics, was an adviser to several Philadelphia mayors.

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN