Clout: John Street on Council? 'Interesting idea,' he says

Posted: April 22, 2011

This article has been corrected from its original version

FORMER MAYOR John Street's 28-year political career was forged in City Council, where the boisterous, brash street activist learned the wonkish ways of deploying politics and policy to get what he wanted.

Could he be heading back?

Street says that friends are urging him to run for one of the two Council at-large seats set aside in the city charter for top vote-getters who are not members of the majority political party.

"It's an interesting idea," Street said, just before helping host a candidate forum at Temple University for Democratic and Republican candidates for Council at-large seats. "It's something that has appeal to me."

Street switched his voter registration Monday from Democrat to independent on the last possible day for anyone considering a run for office as an independent in the Nov. 8 general election.

That change set off speculation that Street, who tried for months to recruit a Democrat to challenge Mayor Nutter in the May 17 primary election, would take on Nutter himself in the fall.

Street's brother, former state legislator and ex-con T. Milton Street, is challenging Nutter in the Democratic primary.

John Street said that an at-large seat would give him a platform to influence the selection in January of the next Council president, the actions of Nutter's second term if he is re-elected this year and who becomes the next mayor in 2015.

Street questions the conventional wisdom that says Council members Marian Tasco and Darrell Clarke are the front-runners to be the next Council president.

"It could be somebody who comes out of nowhere," said Street, who was Council president before he was elected mayor for the first time in 1999.

Street added that he is not interested in being Council president again, though the same friends who want him to run have suggested that he seek that post.

Street said that he has looked at the vote tallies from 2007 to see how a campaign might work for Council as an independent.

Consider: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown was re-elected in 2007 with 148,236 votes, taking fourth place for the five available at-large seats for Democrats.

Republican Councilman Frank Rizzo, with 76,937 votes, came in first for one of the two set-aside seats. So a Republican or independent can win a Council at-large seat with about half of the votes that it takes for a Democrat to take the last open seat.

Matos out as 19th Ward leader

 A federal judge on Wednesday ordered that Carlos Matos step down as Democratic leader of the 19th Ward as a condition of the three-year term of supervised release he started last June when he was released from prison.

Matos supports Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez for re-election in the primary against ward leader Dan Savage, whom she defeated four years ago,.

The 19th Ward will be critical for Sanchez to win re-election.

So she finds U.S. District Judge Anita Brody's ruling troubling, especially since Savage's father is U.S. District Judge Tim Savage.

"It is clear to me that there is no way that Danny Savage is in this race unless his father is assisting him, which we know is inappropriate," Sanchez said. "This is evidence of what's going on."

Dan Savage responded:

"My dad can speak for himself but it's weird that a sitting City Councilperson is speaking up for Carlos Matos, a convicted felon."

Matos served three years in federal prison for bribing three Atlantic City Council members.

His probation officer wrote to a federal judge in New Jersey in November, expressing concern that his role as ward leader "may place him in situations where bribery could be utilized."

The case was transferred to Philadelphia, where Brody held a hearing Tuesday and then barred Matos from holding political positions while on supervised release.

Tim Savage did not respond to a detailed message yesterday.

Brody declined to comment on Sanchez's concerns. "My order speaks for itself," Brody said.

Dirty tricks in the 2nd District

 A flyer circulated yesterday in the Packer Park neighborhood of Barbara Capozzi, one of four Democrats running for Council's 2nd District seat, has injected racial politics into the race.

"None of these people live in Packer Park but they want to represent YOU!!" the flyer proclaimed over pictures of the other three Democrats, state Rep. Kenyatta Johnson, community activist Tracey Gordon and attorney Damon Roberts. "Do YOU trust they have YOUR best interests at heart?"

Those three candidates are African-American. The flyer also had a large picture of Capozzi, the lone white candidate in the race. It urged voters to support her, saying "Your future is at stake!"

Beyond the obvious race-baiting, the flyer violates state election law because there is no information about who printed it or paid for it. The flyer finished with this line: "Not affiliated with or paid for by Capozzi for Council."

Capozzi called the flyer "truly disgusting" and forwarded it to the city Board of Ethics.

Johnson said that he was "appalled" by a "clear attempt to try and inject race into a campaign that has, until now, been focused primarily on the issues."

Gordon called the flyer "poli-tricks" as usual in Philadelphia.

Roberts described the flyer as "underhanded and dirty," and called for an investigation.

Shane Creamer, executive director of the Board of Ethics, said that the district attorney or state attorney general have jurisdiction in cases involving political flyers with no attribution attached.

Creamer added that he is not allowed to comment on information sent to the board or cases referred to other agencies.

Quotable vs. Quotable:

"Philadelphia would watch two cockroaches play baseball. So we could bring another team here. Philadelphia fans do not care."

- Karen Brown, GOP-backed candidate for mayor, telling Dom Giordano last Friday on WPHT that she would force local sports teams to be better corporate citizens.

"I have to tell you, with all due respect, that's a pretty stupid comment."

- Dom Giordano.

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

brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com.


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

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