Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Councilwoman: I got ok to drive daughter to school in city car

City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown went before a board of city officials this morning to explain why she sometimes uses her city vehicle to transport family members – after questions were raised about her car usage by a local television reporter. Fox 29 reporter Jeff Cole, who made headlines recently with his investigation into Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr.’s chief of staff, has been looking into Brown’s use of her city car to drive her daughter to school. Cole’s report has not yet aired. City elected officials and employees are prohibited from using city owned cars to transport family members and non-city workers. But Brown appeared before the city Administrative Board today to say that she was given a formal exemption to the rule in 2004 by the Managing Director, due to her family circumstances. The Administrative Board – which includes the mayor, the managing director and the finance director -- today voted to grant Brown a waiver to continue to use her car for some personal transportation. Brown told the board that she uses her city car to drive her daughter to and from school and sometimes to transport her ailing mother to the hospital. “I’m a working mother, I do that five days a week,” Brown said after the meeting. “I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing.” Mayoral spokesman Doug Oliver also requested a similar waiver today, so that he can drive his young son to school several days a week in his city vehicle. The request was granted. Oliver said that he realized he might not be in compliance with city rules only after questions were raised about Brown’s car use. Mayor Nutter’s chief of staff Clay Armbrister was asked after the hearing if the administration had researched the legality of Nutter driving daughter Olivia to school in the SUV which Nutter purchased with campaign dollars, but then donated to the city. “It’s truly a question we’re going to take a look at,” Armbrister said. “We’ll have the city solicitor take a look at it.” Nutter famously drove his daughter to school every day as a city councilman. But he did not use a city car while on Council. UPDATE: Just got a press release from Fox 29 that says their report will air Sunday night at 10 p.m.

Councilwoman: I got ok to drive daughter to school in city car

City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown went before a board of city officials this morning to explain why she sometimes uses her city vehicle to transport family members – after questions were raised about her car usage by a local television reporter.

Fox 29 reporter Jeff Cole, who made headlines recently with his investigation into Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr.’s chief of staff, has been looking into Brown’s use of her city car to drive her daughter to school. Cole’s report has not yet aired.

City elected officials and employees are prohibited from using city owned cars to transport family members and non-city workers. But Brown appeared before the city Administrative Board today to say that she was given a formal exemption to the rule in 2004 by the Managing Director, due to her family circumstances.

The Administrative Board – which includes the mayor, the managing director and the finance director -- today voted to grant Brown a waiver to continue to use her car for some personal transportation. Brown told the board that she uses her city car to drive her daughter to and from school and sometimes to transport her ailing mother to the hospital.

“I’m a working mother, I do that five days a week,” Brown said after the meeting. “I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing.”

Mayoral spokesman Doug Oliver also requested a similar waiver today, so that he can drive his young son to school several days a week in his city vehicle. The request was granted. Oliver said that he realized he might not be in compliance with city rules only after questions were raised about Brown’s car use.

Mayor Nutter’s chief of staff Clay Armbrister was asked after the hearing if the administration had researched the legality of Nutter driving daughter Olivia to school in the SUV which Nutter purchased with campaign dollars, but then donated to the city.

“It’s truly a question we’re going to take a look at,” Armbrister said. “We’ll have the city solicitor take a look at it.”

Nutter famously drove his daughter to school every day as a city councilman. But he did not use a city car while on Council.

UPDATE: Just got a press release from Fox 29 that says their report will air Sunday night at 10 p.m.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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