Newly reelected City Commissioners Chairman Anthony Clark can't be trusted to show up to vote even though it's his job to help the rest of us do so. He can't be trusted to show up for work much, either, even though newspapers periodically publish accounts of unsuccessful efforts to find him at the office. When he does show up, his subordinates might wish otherwise. During his last term, he bullied one of the elections agency's employees into giving his brother a raise and threatened another for cooperating with an ethics probe.

All this was well-documented before Philadelphia's shameless Democratic Party endorsed him for a third term last fall and the Republicans' representative on the commission, Al Schmidt, engineered Clark's return to the $139,000-a-year chairmanship. The third commissioner, Democrat Lisa Deeley, could have supported Schmidt, who is said to be running the office professionally despite his unsavory alliance with Clark. Instead, she presumptuously decided she should be the chair despite her inexperience and ultimately didn't participate in the decision, thereby failing her first leadership test.

Worse, true to his overwhelming disregard for Philadelphians and overabundance of self-interest, Clark recently applied for the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan, known as DROP - and known to taxpayers as a larcenous pension grab by elected officials. The program will allow him to get an estimated $500,000 lump-sum retirement payout from the underfunded pension system.

Impossible as it may be to imagine, this is the crew responsible for such important matters as a $22 million purchase of voting machines in the coming term.

The Democrats who irresponsibly endorsed Clark for reelection can rehabilitate themselves (a little) by forcing Clark do his job. When the City Commissioners appear before City Council for their budget hearing this year, Council should insist that Clark be among them to answer questions, such as: How can he run a $10 million department without showing up? And how can he be trusted with public money given such a track record?

Mayor Kenney told The Inquirer that he recently urged Clark to show up for work because his absenteeism "makes us all look bad." Kenney can prove his interest in looking better by moving to eliminate the elected city commissioners and fold the antique agency into his administration to be headed by a professional administrator. He should also take responsibility for the voting machine purchase, keeping the public in the loop and the conflicted and incompetent out. Ultimately, as the city's ranking elected Democrat, he should take steps to clean up his party, starting by encouraging it to field qualified candidates.