Stu Bykofsky: Would William Penn support Tasco?

Posted: November 14, 2011

TUESDAY'S ELECTION answered some questions and asked others.

Answered: Who "leads" us for the next four years.

Asked: Who leads City Council? The selection process is under way (under the covers) and those still steamed about DROP - the Deferred Retirement Option Plan - have a stake in this.

Contenders for the president's chair, vacated by the long-serving Anna Verna, are all Democrats - 5th District Councilman Darrell Clarke, 9th District Councilwoman Marian Tasco and at-large Councilman Jim Kenney (who would win if everyone he's ever feuded with voted for him).

The difference between Tasco and Clarke/Kenney is that Tasco took the DROP perk, for which she made an "irrevocable commitment" to retire - but won't.

Tasco will get $478,057 in the Powerball payout after filing her false "report of separation" to the pension board. But she remains like a stain and arrogantly wants her colleagues to reward her for betraying the public trust.

There are other differences. Clarke is backed by his mentor, John Street, and by John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, South Philly power broker and leader of the politically powerful electricians union. Kenney is backed by Vince Fumo. Oops! Kenney's feuding with the man who made him.

Tasco is supported by Michael "Mixmaster Mike" Nutter, morally baffling because he opposes DROP for elected officials - and the worst are those who pull a Retire & Return scam. That's Tasco, writing a sad epitaph to her record of service. She lusts for the presidency to cap her career. How can Council permit that?

Before the primary, I called all candidates to ask if they would reward Tasco.

It was not a question most Democrats wanted to hear. It was easier for Republicans to act on principle, since most had no chance of being elected.

With the election over, I again asked Tasco's colleagues if they would elevate her. Most had evaded an answer earlier, some saying they wouldn't base their vote on a single issue. This "single issue" concerns ethical behavior and that should override politics as usual, or even politics as unusual.

Before I started this column I got an email from at-large Councilman Bill Green, saying he hadn't decided on whom to support, but he'd be happy to discuss it with me.

With thanks, I emailed him a question. Green's (full-page) newspaper ads used a quote from William Penn: "Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it."

Citing that, I asked Green: "What Marian Tasco is doing - filing a faux retirement, grabbing almost half a million dollars and returning to work - is that right?" I asked the others the same question.

I asked Green more than a week ago. (Sound of crickets. He's for Clarke.) If Tasco cared about doing the right thing, she could remove her friends from the bull's-eye by withdrawing her candidacy. But if she cared about doing the right thing, she'd take her half-mil and go home.

I left messages for everyone on Council, with some exceptions. I didn't ask Tasco, Kenney or Clarke, obviously, but also skipped Jannie Blackwell (a possible "compromise" candidate for president), GOP at-large candidates David Oh and Al Taubenberger, who are battling for a seat. (In May, Oh waffled, Taubenberger called Tasco's actions "not moral.") Newly elected at-large Republican Denny O'Brien told me Wednesday that he's with Clarke, but wouldn't take a shot at Tasco. At-large Councilman Bill Greenlee lines up with Clarke, but "I am not voting against anyone." Count 4th District Councilman Curtis Jones on Clarke's team, too.

First District Councilman Mark Squilla declines to say how he'd vote, but says Tasco's actions were "wrong." Count him for Clarke? Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon is on record as being anti-Tasco whereas at-large Councilman Wilson Goode ducked the question, along with 7th District Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez (she's for Tasco; wrong behavior seldom bothers her). Tenth District Councilman Brian O'Neill is hiding under his desk.

Although 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass says Tasco's DROP grab is "wrong," she will vote for her, citing her overall "track record" and concern that without Tasco no woman would be in a leadership post. Pro-Tasco at-large Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is mum on the "right/wrong" question.

It's believed that Clarke has the necessary nine votes. We will know soon. The other Council DROP-ers have met their fates. Tasco needs to be denied. Justice demands it.


Email stubyko@phillynews.com

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