Clout: Will Anthony Clark lead commission?

Posted: November 04, 2011

UP TO NOW, the most notable thing about City Commissioner Anthony Clark was that he dropped out of the 2003 election for a seat on the three-member board 15 hours before polling places opened, won anyway and then claimed he hadn't realized that he had pulled out of the race.

Clark was barred by a judge from taking the seat in 2003, won in 2007, and is seeking a second term. He rarely says anything at commission meetings and has barely bothered to campaign.

Could this Democratic ward leader from North Philly be the next commission chairman? That depends on the fate of four-term GOP Commissioner Joe Duda.

The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity this week endorsed Duda for re-election after he promised to support Clark for chairman. Clark would be the first black chairman.

Marge Tartaglione, now chairwoman, lost a bid for a 10th four-year term in the May primary.

Duda declined to tell us if he had promised to support Clark. Clark didn't respond to requests for comment.

The Rev. Terrence Griffith, a vice president for the Black Clergy, and Bishop Leonard Goins, a member who runs a separate political-action committee, confirmed Duda's promised support for Clark as chairman.

Duda will need all the help he can get to hold off a challenge from Al Schmidt, a Republican active in the effort to seize control of the local party leadership from Duda and GOP general counsel Michael Meehan.

Schmidt said he has not made any promises about whom he would support for chairman if elected.

But he's often on the same page when speaking about reforms with Stephanie Singer, the Democrat who defeated Tartaglione in the primary.

A Singer-Schmidt partnership would likely lead to many changes at the commission. If Duda prevails and makes Clark the chairman, Singer's calls for reforms will probably go nowhere fast.

Jeff Cole strikes again

Jeff Cole, the Fox 29 investigative reporter known for secretly surveilling city officials, aired a story last night about where state Rep. Kenyatta Johnson has been laying his head. Johnson is expected to win the 2nd City Council District seat in Tuesday's election.

Mark Nevins, Johnson's campaign spokesman, said Fox 29 filmed the candidate as he spent some nights at a house in West Philly. That house, in Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell's district, is owned by Johnson's fiancee, Dawn Chavous.

"Congratulations to Fox," Nevins joked. "They blew the lid off the story about a guy who stays at his fiancee's house."

Nevins said Johnson lives in a house he rents on Manton Street in Point Breeze, in the 2nd District. Fox 29 said it had Water Department records showing that Johnson doesn't use much water there. Nevins said Johnson gave Fox 29 totals for what he has paid in the past year for electric and gas at the address.

"He pays rent there. He pays bills there," Nevins said. "He spends time with his fiancee and time in Harrisburg, but the Manton Street address is his home."

FOP vs. Sheriff

Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby accused Sheriff Barbara Deeley yesterday of a "flagrant violation of local ethics rules" for allegedly advocating at department roll calls last week for Bill Rubin, a Democrat challenging GOP Councilman Brian O'Neill in the 10th District.

McNesby made his accusations in a letter to the city Board of Ethics and a letter to the 200 sheriff's deputies and retirees represented by the FOP.

"She is actively campaigning on city time for at least one candidate in the upcoming City Council election," McNesby wrote the Ethics Board while asking for an investigation.

The section of the city charter that regulates political activity exempts elected officials, like the mayor, sheriff, district attorney and city commissioners.

Deeley, through a spokesman, said that McNesby's letter, as reported on yesterday, "has material errors of fact," but she reserved further comment until she sees the letter.

A Clout Line encore

Loyal readers will recall that we periodically ran the Clout Line before the primary elections for mayor, gauging the chances for candidates based on the best guesses of five locals who toiled in past Democratic and Republican mayoral elections.

They are back with projections for Tuesday's election:

Mayor Nutter: 74 percent; Republican Karen Brown: 24 percent; independent Wali "Diop" Rahman: 2 percent; voter turnout: 26 percent.

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

Check out the Clout blog at: and follow on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN.

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