Clarke outshines Nutter on school funding as new campaign web site goes live

Posted: August 16, 2013

IN POLITICS, a crisis is also an opportunity, according to Clout's Compendium of Cliches.

City Council President Darrell Clarke sure seems to think so.

There was Clarke yesterday at City Hall, flanked by colleagues eagerly supporting his longtime plan to sell off city land, now to solve a $50 million funding crisis for the school district, rather than Mayor Nutter's plan to borrow the money.

Clarke looks like the man in charge at City Hall as candidates size up the 2015 race for mayor.

Hey, did we mention that Clarke held a well-attended fundraiser Tuesday at a restaurant across the street from City Hall?

Plenty of power players showed up, including former mayor and governor Ed Rendell, who gave a speech praising Clarke and noting his new web site:

Clarke, first elected to Council in 1999, already has a website for that post. He's up for re-election in 2015. So what could the new website be for?

"There's some other office he could run for," Rendell theatrically hinted to the crowd.

Clarke saw where Rendell was taking the conversation and didn't exactly run for the door.

"The governor is talking about 2015," Clarke said. "He's trying to get me into trouble. We'll see."

"There you go," Rendell cut in.

Clarke was more circumspect yesterday after discussing the school-funding crisis, saying he is focused now on his current job.

"Given the significant level of what lies before us, for me to divert my attention to any other political endeavors at this time would not be appropriate, nor productive," Clarke told us.

Hear the politically pitch-perfect tone in that: Clarke is too busy saving the schools to let his own ambitions intrude.

What about that new website? For now, it calls itself the "future online headquarters" of Clarke's "bold vision for Philadelphia."

It doesn't say if that vision will be run from Council's chambers on City Hall's fourth floor or the Mayor's Office two floors below.

Charles Gibbs, finance chairman for Clarke's political-action committee, has been coy about 2015 since rumors started to circulate in May about a potential mayoral run. That continued this week.

"We anticipate him offering himself up for public service in 2015," Gibbs said, leaving which office a question.

Speaking of 2015 . . .

Former Mayor John Street and state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams were spotted last week meeting at the SugarHouse Casino, according to our knowledgeable colleague, Molly Eichel.

So we wanted to know: do they prefer blackjack or craps?

Turns out, Street likes the food at the casino, according to his son, Sharif Street, who also attended the sit-down.

Dad didn't respond to our email so we asked the son: What was on the menu for conversation?

"We talk about a lot of things," Sharif Street said this week. "We're old family friends."

Did the potential candidacy of Clarke for mayor come up?

"I think he could do the job but he's not an announced candidate so it's premature," Sharif Street said of Clarke, who started his City Hall career as an aide in John Street's City Council office.

Williams, who already has the support of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic Party chairman, for his anticipated bid for mayor in 2015, declined to even admit he had lunch at the casino but expressed respect for the former mayor and his knowledge about how the city works.

Williams also had kind words for Clarke, calling him a friend.

"We have a good partnership, working on issues," Williams said. "And I hope it continues."

Deep Tweets by Desiree

Desiree Peterkin Bell, Nutters's communications director and city representative, still finds time in her hectic schedule each day to be a prolific tweeter.

Bell - @DPBell on Twitter - uses social media to spread news about the city and Nutter's policies. But there's more. She is a font of 140-character philosophy.

Bell has nearly 13,500 followers for her more than 17,700 tweets. But we didn't want to take the chance that you might miss this.

From yesterday: " More respect for folks who are blunt. You waste too much time being sneaky. #idonthavethatkindatime"

From Aug. 9: " You can't really trust severely insecure people because they are driven by ego. #Purpose"

From Aug. 8: " Blessed to know when to be humble, when to be aggressive and when to be silent and listen. #DesireeLessons"

- Staff Writer Sean Collins Walsh contributed to this report.


Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN


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