Trash haulers as political plunderers? Not their bag

Posted: March 26, 2007

In the junkyard-dog realm of South Philadelphia politics, paranoia is just self-preservation.

So it probably made sense to think dirty tricks were afoot when workers for a charity linked to State Sen. Vincent Fumo took trash bags from curbside at the homes of John Dougherty, business manager of electricians' Local 98, and the union's president, Harry Foy, on the morning of March 16.

"Everybody else's bags were left there," said Rosellen Foy, who confronted the workers in front of the couple's home on Moyamensing Avenue. "I get a little worried with all this identity theft on the news." She filed a police report.

The trash haulers came from Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit neighborhood-service agency that was implicated in the recent federal indictment against its founder, Fumo.

The indictment alleges that the agency bought tools, vacuums and vehicles for Fumo's personal use, and supplied workers to help maintain the senator's homes and a 100-acre farm near Harrisburg.

Dougherty said he feared the agency was on a spying mission. He called Citizens Alliance "the KGB of Philadelphia." Fumo and Dougherty have long battled for political power in South Philadelphia.

Christian DiCicco, executive director of the agency, termed "Doc's delusions" absurd. He said the men were picking up trash around a notorious illegal dumping site at Moyamensing Avenue and McKean Street.

"The allegation that my guys went through trash is as laughable as the thought of my guys even knowing who the hell Harry Foy is or where John Dougherty lives," DiCicco said.

On the other hand, federal prosecutors say Fumo used Senate money to have a private eye follow Dougherty for months in 2002.

- Thomas Fitzgerald

Keys to success

Quick: What do Comcast chief executive officer Brian Roberts, mayoral candidate Tom Knox, and former Philadelphia Mayor William J. Green 3d have in common?

They've all slept under the same roof - albeit years apart.

In 1977, Green bought a 1920s stone colonial on the 400 block of West Chestnut Hill Avenue. But he and his family packed their bags for new digs in 1984 - the same year Green moved out of City Hall after wrapping up his first and only mayoral term.

Next in was Knox, the millionaire candidate who wants to be Philly's next mayor.

"Oh, it's a great place. It's four acres, it abuts the park. There's a tennis court," mused Knox, who lived there with his wife, Linda, and their two sons. With grown kids who live elsewhere, he and Linda now make their home in a Rittenhouse Square high-rise.

They actually moved out in 1994, handing the keys to Roberts, who today lives there with his wife, Aileen, and their family. Records show they bought the place for $950,000.

Any bets on the next occupants?

- Marcia Gelbart

Small world of politics

For the closely watched ballot-access hearing of mayoral candidate and Democratic boss Bob Brady last week, city officials had to go all the way to Luzerne County to find a judge unconnected to the tribal world of Philadelphia politics.

Looks like they should have gone a bit farther.

As it turns out, Senior Judge Patrick J. Toole Jr. is the father of Luzerne County Judge Thomas Toole. Who four years ago won a judicial race over a field that included fellow Luzerne County lawyer Tom O'Connor. Whose brother runs Philadelphia's Cozen O'Connor law firm with a guy named Steve Cozen. Who is currently representing Brady against the ballot challenge.

Small world.

Incidentally, O'Connor's campaign consultants in the race included Ken Snyder, now a top Brady strategist, and Philadelphia political consultant Larry Ceisler.

- Michael Currie Schaffer

Rizzo fired up over police

A fired-up Frank Rizzo pumped some life into City Council's otherwise desultory hearing into police funding last week, getting into a series of testy exchanges with Commissioner Sylvester Johnson.

Rizzo, who is typically among the more reserved members of Council, grilled the commissioner on topics ranging from patrols of city highways to Center City traffic jams and police radio coverage. He was looking for detailed answers, and when they weren't forthcoming, Rizzo raised his voice and jabbed his finger at the commissioner.

"Unfortunately for the commissioner and the police department, I know what goes on there. They can't b.s. me," Rizzo said after the hearing.

Rizzo is typically as easygoing and likable as his father was tough and controversial. But his demeanor changes fast where the Police Department is concerned.

When he was suspicious that department leaders were wasting money on needless overtime repairs of infrequently used patrol cars, Rizzo placed coins atop the tires of the vehicles and returned weeks later to find his change still in place - the cars hadn't moved.

"They can't smoke me and they know it," he proclaimed.

- Patrick Kerkstra

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