Three new to Council will pass up city cars

Posted: January 08, 2012

Not many new public jobs come with a set of wheels, but cars remain one perk available to members of City Council.

Of those elected for the first time, Democrat Kenyatta Johnson and Republicans Dennis O'Brien and David Oh are taking city cars.

O'Brien said he had a car in his previous job as a state representative and felt it was appropriate, given the need to travel to various parts of the city. Oh, too, cited work-related travel, and said he would share the car with his staff, some of whom take public transportation to work.

Johnson's spokesman, Zack Burgess, said the councilman decided to take a city car because he represents a large district in South and Southwest Philadelphia, "and felt it was the best way for him to be able to get out in the community."

Freshman Democrats Mark Squilla, Cindy Bass, and Bobby Henon will provide their own transportation.

Incumbents Jannie Blackwell, Curtis Jones, Darrell L. Clarke, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Marian B. Tasco, Brian O'Neill, Bill Greenlee, and Blondell Reynolds Brown have city cars. O'Neill also has a second pool car assigned to his office.

In the past, some Council members have said they drive so much for work that it's more efficient to use a city car than to be reimbursed for mileage.

The city paid between $13,800 and $25,000 each for the dozen cars in the Council fleet when they were new.

Maintenance costs for each Council car run about $1,000 a year. - Miriam Hill and Bob Warner

Saidel lets loose with some comic barbs

Former City Controller Jonathan Saidel looked around a roomful of dignitaries, politicos, and power brokers Thursday and warned he might forget to recognize someone.

"That's one of the great things about being an elder statesman," he said impishly. "If I miss somebody, what are you going to do to me?"

Saidel was playing emcee for Dan McCaffery, who was making official his bid for state attorney general and accepting key endorsements (primarily from U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the man at the controls of the city's Democratic machine, and from John J. "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, the man with lots of the money the machine needs to run.)

Saidel wasn't quite benign - more Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes than Billy Crystal at the Oscars.

Recognizing new Councilman Bobby Henon - Dougherty's former political director at the electricians' union local - Saidel said he had watched Henon grow up since joining the union "when he was 4 years old."

Talking about Democratic colleagues from suburban counties, where viable Republicans run and elections matter, Saidel lamented that "the people they represent aren't as well-informed as the citizens of Philadelphia."

His best barb was reserved for Register of Wills Ron Donatucci, who jumped through a DROP program loophole at year's end, retiring just long enough to collect a $367,000 payment and then being sworn in for another term. Saidel called him "the guy who's been the register of wills since 1790 - except for five days last week." - Troy Graham

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