Clout: This time, Street has ringside seat and Nutter is punchers' target

PHA board chairman John Street
PHA board chairman John Street
Posted: March 04, 2011

THERE'S a saying we've always been fond of in the pugilistic world of political tactics - "Punch up, not down."

That means pick a fight with someone bigger than you so you look the same size as the target.

Mayor Nutter used it well in 2007 while running for mayor in the Democratic primary against two congressmen, a millionaire, a state legislator and a pair of fringe candidates.

Nutter ran television ads, accusing then-Mayor Street of indifference to crime and corruption.

Now the tactic is being used against Nutter, in a way that must be pleasing to Street.

State Rep. Kenyatta Johnson is seeking the City Council seat being vacated by Anna Verna in what is shaping up to be a crowded field.

Here's what Johnson put on his Facebook page Tuesday:

"I'm thinking about all of the Social Service programs that were gutted from the Street Administration (Safe and Sound, Beacon, Youth Violence Reduction Partnership, Curfew Centers, Truancy Officers, etc.) and what has replaced them in the new administration! Yup, I'm about to go in deep! It's about a better quality of life for the Youth of the city! That's why I'm running for City Council."

Hmm. Did Johnson just say he is running for Council because of social programs Nutter cut?

Nutter told us he has had many conversations with Johnson and considers him a "serious and committed public servant." But Nutter also said Johnson never asked to talk about those programs.

Johnson dialed the rhetoric way back when we got him on the phone, saying he supports Nutter and the programs in place for at-risk youth in the city.

"I respect what the mayor is doing," Johnson said. "I know he has to make tough decisions during these tough times."

We scored this round for Nutter. Keep the left up, Kenyatta.

The perils of PHA press releases

Speaking of our former mayor, Street yesterday said he understands why the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development called last Friday for the board of the Philadelphia Housing Authority to resign.

Street, PHA's chairman, noted that HUD is getting political pressure from federal legislators to investigate and reform the scandal-plagued agency. But Street says it is "unrealistic" for HUD to think he'll step down just because it issued a news release.

"The board members firmly believe that we really haven't done anything wrong," Street said while visiting City Hall to hear Nutter's budget address. "But in spite of that, most board members are open to talk to HUD about [its call for their resignations.]"

Street offered an explanation for why some thought last week that a deal was in place for the board to step down - a missing "not" in PHA's press release.

Street said the release was supposed to declare that the board would not resign. But someone - Street didn't name the careless culprit - forgot to put the "not" in that sentence.

Mystery solved!

So what will Street say about resignations when the PHA board meets today?

He wouldn't tell us because that might cause reporters to not attend (see editorial, Page 19.)

A Tayoun tip of the hat

The first time we met Jimmy Tayoun, he was as hospitable as a man can be in federal prison.

So we've always had a soft spot for the South Philly sportswriter-turned-politician-turned- inmate-turned-newspaper publisher.

We were surprised last week to see an item from our Feb. 18 column, including our headline, reprinted word-for-word in Tayoun's Public Record: "Pols on the Street" column.

Tayoun told us he clipped our work, intending to write something of his own on the issue, but then went into the hospital with pneumonia on the day his newspaper goes to print. A staffer printed our item, thinking it was Tayoun's writing, he explained.

Tayoun's paper apologized in yesterday's edition. Judging from the tone, we think Tayoun is feeling fine and frisky again.

"The Daily News staff contributors to its weekly 'Clout' column now have one on us," the column started. "So many times we enjoyed their reporting what was already old hat for our readers!"


"It's not a suspension like from grade school for getting in trouble. Let's make that clear out there." - "Fox News" anchor Jenna Lee explaining Wednesday that former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich have been suspended from their jobs as contributors because they both might run for president.

Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or e-mail

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Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail

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