Former Gov. Ed Rendell waited for years - and a big audience - to spill his secret about City Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco.

In front of more than 1,100 people Tuesday night in the Convention Center, Rendell described giving each of the 10 Council members who represent districts $1 million per year for community projects when he was mayor in the 1990s.

Tasco persistently pitched strong projects and received more than $1 million, Rendell said.

"Marian was savvy enough to never bring in schlock or things she needed for political reasons," Rendell said.

She leaves Council next month after seven terms.

Mayors past, present, and future praised Tasco as a source of advice in unsure times and a force of political nature when she was sure what she wanted to accomplish.

Mayor Nutter called Tasco a mentor while presenting her with the Philadelphia Bowl.

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney said Tasco "raised me" from the age of 32, when he was a new Council member who "knew it all and had all the answers."

Tasco, Kenney said, helped him mature and taught him to listen more to what people said.

Tasco called the crowd for a gala in her honor, and the attention showered on her, "overwhelming."

She said the event's organizers had expected about 500 people to pay $100 per ticket. More than double showed up. Tasco said any money left over would go to Bennett College, a historically black women's school in Greensboro, N.C. Tasco dropped out of Bennett when she could no longer afford the tuition. The school already has a scholarship in her name.

"I'm excited and I'm happy and I'm honored that so many people have come to share in this celebration," Tasco said.

Tasco got her start in politics in the 1970s while working for the Urban Affairs Coalition, which was then challenging the old-guard Democratic machine. She still serves on that agency's board.

Tasco won a seat in 1983 on the Board of City Commissioners, the three-member board that oversees elections. She was the first African American elected to the post. She left that post for a 1987 run for Council, claiming the Ninth District seat vacated by one of her political mentors, John F. White Jr.

She went on to mentor many others. Two members of the committee hosting Tuesday's gala - State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker and lawyer Derek Green - worked in her Council office. Parker, who started as an intern, will be sworn in next month as Tasco's replacement in the Ninth District. Green will be sworn in as an at-large Council member.

Tasco plans to remain active in city politics.

She holds a seat on the Democratic National Committee and will serve as Kenney's representative in preparations for the party's presidential nomination convention in Philadelphia in July.

"I still call her for advice," Kenney said, laughing. "And she'll call me when she thinks I'm doing something wrong."