Clout | Hot off the wire: The iMayor dials alone

Posted: July 06, 2007

THE BIG NEWS late last week was Mayor Street - starting at 3:30 a.m. - waiting in line for 14 hours, enduring rain and heat and hecklers, so he could buy an Apple iPhone.

Wow, we thought, this must be the new best thing for the political class. Information is power, right?

So we did a quick survey of 10 top pols to find out who had an iPhone, who planned to get one, who waited in line.

The answer? Nobody! None of them had an iPhone. None planned to get one. Maybe our mayor is just way ahead of the curve.

Here's what we found out:

_ Gov. Rendell. First of all, this guy

wouldn't wait in line for anything. No patience.

Then there's the whole technology thing.

"The governor doesn't even have a computer," said spokeswoman Kate Philips. "No BlackBerry. I think he can retrieve a message from his cell phone. He still hand-writes veto messages."

_ Michael Nutter, Democratic candidate for mayor. "No, I don't have one and no, I'm not getting one."

Nutter has a BlackBerry (which provides both cell-phone service and access to the Internet).

"At the moment I have all the technology I need," he said, "Everybody doesn't have $600 for the latest toy that comes out."

_ Al Taubenberger, Republican candidate for mayor. "I don't plan to purchase an iPhone since I just recently stepped up and purchased a BlackBerry," he told us.

And why did Taubenberger buy a BlackBerry?

"Because Mayor Street told me I needed one," he said.

Sounds like our mayor is the Johnny Appleseed of wireless politicos, huh?

_ U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. The state's senior senator doesn't plan to buy an iPhone, nor does he use a BlackBerry, according to spokesman Scott Hoeflich.

He does have a cell phone.

_ U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. Casey has a BlackBerry, but no plans for an iPhone.

Spokesman Larry Smar calls Casey "technological in a business sense," adding, "I don't expect him to buy a Nintendo Wii or anything like that."

_ The big shocker is that state Sen. Vince Fumo, the most technological pol we know, isn't getting an iPhone. This guy used to have a phone in his car connected to a satellite.

But spokesman Gary Tuma said Fumo, who has a BlackBerry, "has enough other means of communicating."

_ U.S. Rep. Bob Brady. No iPhone for this guy.

"I got a cell phone, I got a BlackBerry, I got a beeper and now I have another beeper from Congress," he said. "I've got more than enough."

Brady's recent election as chairman of the House Administration Committee got him a second beeper.

The House speaker must have direct access to all House chairmen, and the beeper acts as a walkie-talkie when they're needed on the House floor.

_ U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. BlackBerry and cell phone, yes, iPhone no.

_ Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. "I have a BlackBerry and right now I'm fine," he said.

_ Councilman Frank Rizzo describes himself as a techie, but one who is price-sensitive and seeks the minimum necessary on his tools to get the job done.

"I don't really know why I'd need an iPhone," he said. "My entry-level BlackBerry gives me a phone, access to the Internet, e-mail, scheduling and reminders."

Schiffrin for Senate?

You'll never hear U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter mention retirement, but the fact is, he'll be 80 when his term expires in 2010.

Even if he decides to go all Strom Thurmond on us, he's certain to face stiff opposition in both the 2010 Republican primary and the general.

One Democrat considering the race is Montgomery County lawyer Richard Schiffrin, a political fundraiser and Friend of Hillary.

"It is probably unlikely, but I've had a couple of people suggest I ought to consider it," he told us. "If you were to ask my wife, she would say it's out of the question because I did ask her and that's what she said."

Schiffrin, 54, who grew up in Bala Cynwyd, is wealthy enough to make a splash with his own money and has the experience and skill to raise money from others.

Potential rival: U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

Martz has been serving as secretary of administration under Gov. Rendell.

The board will announce today that Martz is taking over and with a new title: executive director. Martz succeeds Rick Burcik, who was general manager.

The board administers more than $400 million in bequests left to the city, most notably that of Stephen Girard. It funds Girard College, and late last year made a deal to lease a Center City block it owns, bounded by Market, Chestnut, 11th and 12th streets, for $90 million over 75 years.

Obama woos Nutter

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and Democratic mayoral nominee Michael Nutter had a brief closed-door meeting yesterday backstage at the National Education Association convention.

The meeting was arranged by Obama's staff. Was he looking for an endorsement to match Hillary Clinton's nod from Mayor Street earlier in the week?

"Nothing like that even came up," Nutter said late yesterday. "We talked about our respective campaigns and the challenges we face. I talked about taxes and crime, he talked about Iraq and Social Security."

They'd met earlier this year at an Obama fundraiser.

Asked if he might endorse a presidential candidate, Nutter said: "Obviously I'm watching. And I want to hear them talk about cities and regions, and speak a language that says the federal government has a role to play." *

Staff writers Gar Joseph, Dave Davies and Mark McDonald contributed to this report.

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