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Later, legislators: 6 Council members have emotional day

CITY COUNCIL bade farewell yesterday to an animal- rights advocate, a zoning guru, a tough-talking brawler, a longtime police pal, a mild-mannered community booster - and one hell of a grande dame.

Retiring Council members (from left): Joan Krajewski, Donna Reed Miller, Frank DiCicco and Frank Rizzo Jr. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)
Retiring Council members (from left): Joan Krajewski, Donna Reed Miller, Frank DiCicco and Frank Rizzo Jr. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)Read more

CITY COUNCIL bade farewell yesterday to an animal- rights advocate, a zoning guru, a tough-talking brawler, a longtime police pal, a mild-mannered community booster - and one hell of a grande dame.

Although there were no tears, it was an emotionally charged day that included an appearance by Mayor Nutter, who praised the retiring members and presented them with a tribute and a framed drawing of City Hall.

"This has been one of the toughest four-year stretches in decades here in this city, and without all of your support this city would not have been able to do the things

we've done," Nutter said.

Here's a look at the six members, snapshots of their careers and their plans post-Council:

President Anna C. Verna

Verna - the longest-serving city employee - was the first woman to become Council president, a post she held for 12 years. She began in Council 36 years ago, when she was encouraged to seek the 2nd District seat after the death of her father, William Cibotti. The district covers parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philadelphia.

Ruling City Council with a firm but gentle hand as a consensus builder, she was instrumental in pushing legislation that established affordable housing in her district for low-income residents, veterans and seniors. She helped coordinate factions involved in the construction of the sports stadiums and the revitalization of the Navy Yard and sponsored legislation to create the Regional Produce Center, regulate nuisance bars and establish a citywide ban on public drinking.

So, what's next for the Council's first female president?

"I really have no plans at this moment," she said. But having not driven in a while, she added, "I intend to go back and take a refresher course."

Jack Kelly

The Republican became the 7th District Councilman in 1988 then secured an at-large seat in 2004.

Kelly said he is most proud about legislation he sponsored to ensure firefighters had protective ear equipment after he learned that many suffered hearing loss from years on the job. He also implemented Project Lifesaver, which helps police locate those who have Alzheimer's, autism and other disabilities.

Kelly is best known for his dedication to animal care. Nutter recently appointed him to the Animal Care and Control board, where he expects to continue his efforts to make Philadelphia a no-kill shelter city. But he said he would still be interested in politics.

For now, he'll take it easy and visit his four kids, who live in New York, California and Key West.

Frank Rizzo Jr.

Hailing from a strong political brand, the name Rizzo rings bells. During his 16 years as councilman at-large, Rizzo sponsored legislation to address issues with police and fire emergency radio. He pushed a measure to install red-light cameras to make busy intersections safer and started a rotational system to regulate tow-truck operators.

"I have done what I love - helping people," Rizzo said. "I will continue to do that."

The son of the late former police commissioner and mayor lost re-election due in part to the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which drew public ire after elected officials entered the program, won re-election, retired for a day to collect a hefty pension payment, then returned to office. He tried in vain to withdraw from the plan and return the money.

More recently he was dropped from his post as minority whip after he voted for a redistricting plan Councilman Brian O'Neill didn't like. That's when he switched from Republican to independent.

This is far from the end of an era. Rizzo said he has opportunities lined up in the media, but he has not made a final decision.

Frank DiCicco

DiCicco was elected in 1995 to the 1st District, which covers parts of South Philadelphia, Center City and the river wards. He sponsored a number of measures related to development on the waterfront, the establishment of the Zoning Code Commission and a 10-year tax-abatement program that helped spur development.

He aided the revitalization of the 13th Street corridor, the Jefferson Square Housing Development and the city's casinos.

"Frank never saw a battle he wasn't willing to take on whether it was good, bad or indifferent, popular or whether it was going to cause him grief and aggravation," Nutter said during Council's last session. "The waterfront of this city will be transformed. . . . That process started with Frank DiCicco."

DiCicco considered running for re-election, but after controversy erupted over the DROP program, he opted against it. He is preparing to start a gig as a lobbyist and political consultant for Philadelphia Strategies Group.

Joan Krajewski

Krajewski, the brawler, straight-shooter councilwoman who served the 6th District in the Northeast since 1979, fought absentee landlords in the Northeast, sponsored a "right to know" legislation and pushed efforts to address prison overpopulation.

Krajewski said she was most proud of the Community Life Improvement Program, which she established to deal with quality-of-life issues in her district.

Krajewski received a lot of heat after she took a DROP payment in 2007 before returning to serve another term.

As for her retirement she said: "It's time. Oh, absolutely it's time. We need young blood."

Donna Reed Miller

Miller is retiring from the 8th District in the Northwest that she's held since 1996. She's proudest of her "Ban the Box" legislation, a measure that makes it easier for ex-offenders to be considered for jobs.

She also sponsored the video-surveillance-camera referendum to help police find suspects, and tackled issues like the city's gun laws and streetscape projects.

Miller isn't sure what she will do after Council, but said she plans to freshen up on her computer skills. "I'm doing computer training. I need to become more technical," she said. "I'm going to enjoy being able to chill for a minute."

Miller, who was also enrolled in DROP, considered running for re-election but dropped out. Verna and Kelly are also DROP participants.

- Staff writers Catherine Lucey and Chris Brennan contributed to this report.