John Dougherty resigns as head of Redevelopment Authority

Posted: April 29, 2008

Union leader John Dougherty yesterday resigned as chairman of the powerful city Redevelopment Authority.

In a letter to Mayor Nutter, Dougherty, head of the electricians union, said that he had accomplished all of his goals during eight years as unpaid head of the authority, which spends millions of dollars reviving blighted areas.

Dougherty's resignation, effective tomorrow, comes a week after he lost a bid for the Democratic nomination to the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Vince Fumo.

Dougherty said that he had offered to step down from the RDA and from the Blue Cross board after Nutter took office "since I believe the mayor should have his own representation."

"He took me up on it right away on the Blue Cross board," Dougherty said, but Nutter allowed him to continue on at the RDA. The two agreed to talk again about the RDA after the election.

Nutter stressed that he had not directly asked Dougherty to step down. But he did say that he had made clear that he wanted flexibility over the city's boards and commissions.

"I think John understood from the beginning that mayors have the right and the opportunity to put their own people in place in these boards and commissions," said Nutter, who spoke to Dougherty yesterday afternoon.

"I would say there's nothing particularly unusual about this," Nutter said. "There's a lot of boards and commissions, and we're working our way through them."

Nutter complimented Dougherty's work at the RDA, saying that he had worked to "make it more open and transparent."

Dougherty said that he was proudest of several initiatives he had developed as head of the RDA, including: a land-disposition policy, which halted speculation by forcing developers to build as planned or risk losing the land back to the RDA; minority outreach, which saw an increase in the percentage of minority contracts to 31.5 percent; and requiring the sale of any property over $100,000 to go through a transparent, competitive bidding process.

Nutter did not offer a time frame for the appointment of the next chairman, but said that it would be soon. *

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