"I expected this from Brian O'Neill," Rizzo said Friday. "He's the most petty guy I ever met."
O'Neill and Kelly did not return calls seeking comment.
Rizzo said that he had already taken steps to change his party registration from Republican to independent, and that he intended to campaign against O'Neill in the Northeast, where O'Neill seeks another four-year term against Democrat Bill Rubin.
"This is an example of why this guy [O'Neill] should be defeated," Rizzo said Friday. "It's a blatant political decision to remove me from leadership based on a single vote. It's nothing more than being vindictive. I knew it was coming. . . . It's all about the redistricting."
Two weeks ago, Council approved new boundaries for the 10 district seats, to take effect with the municipal elections of 2015. Over protests from O'Neill, his district in the Far Northeast was redrawn to include all of Rhawnhurst's 56th Ward, a longtime Democratic stronghold.
Council's final vote on the redistricting plan was 15-2, with Rizzo in favor, O'Neill and Kelly opposed.
But a closer, more critical vote was taken a week earlier.
Council's leadership, including O'Neill and Democratic leader Marian Tasco, had drafted a map that divided the 56th Ward between two districts. They offered an amendment trying to make the plan more palatable to the full Council membership, but the proposed change was voted down, 9-8, with Rizzo's nay the deciding vote.
Afterward, O'Neill looked over to Rizzo and offered a sarcastic "thanks," according to Rizzo. "I just ignored him," Rizzo said. "I didn't want to get involved in a confrontation in the chamber."
Kelly and Rizzo each have less than three months left in their Council careers, both cut short by their participation in the lucrative deferred-retirement program known as DROP. Kelly stands to receive close to $400,000 from the program when he retires early next year, and Rizzo will get an estimated $194,000.
As political storm clouds were gathering around DROP-tainted incumbents last year, Kelly decided not to seek reelection. Rizzo sought another four years, but Republican ward leaders refused to endorse his run and GOP voters dumped him in the May primary.
Asked Friday night whether he split with his Republican colleagues on redistricting as payback for GOP leaders' abandoning him in the primary, Rizzo said, "Not at all. My vote was based on a quality district for the constituents. We're trying to fix this, not make it worse. . . . [O'Neill] wanted only the divisions that were good for him."
Kelly's paycheck as a rank-and-file councilman was $120,233 annually, but now he'll trade pay grades with Rizzo, who was paid $122,686. O'Neill, the Republican floor leader, gets $126,366 a year.
Contact staff writer Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or email@example.com.