Yes, we know this is a time of year for lists, but at least we’re pretty sure you won’t see this one anywhere else. This is the one and only PhillyClout Top 10 Local Political Stories of the Decade. Our thanks to Dave Davies, Bob Warner and John Baer for their help.
1) Fumo goes down – This is the biggie. Longtime state Sen. Vince Fumo, viewed as the most powerful politician in the city, is convicted on 137 of 137 corruption counts. He ended the decade in prison.
2) Bug found in Mayor John Street’s office – The story that set the 2003 mayoral election on fire. A federal bug was found in Street’s office, and Democratic pols so effectively painted the corruption probe as a Republican witch hunt that a competitive race turned into an easy win for Street. Democratic chairman U.S. Rep. Bob Brady later admitted to Philadelphia Magazine he was “just spinning the s---.”
3) Nutter wins 2007 mayoral election – When he quit his job as City Councilman, most political insiders said he was crazy. But slow and steady, Nutter kept his head down, raised a substantial campaign chest, talked good government and sailed past two Congressmen, a state representative and a millionaire to win the Democratic primary race. He later cake-walked through the general election.
4) Bob Casey defeats Rick Santorum for Senate – He was the right guy at the right time. Mild mannered Bob Casey sailed into the senate in 2006 after Rick Santorum’s extreme conservatism had turned most of Pennsylvania off.
5) Ethics Board With Teeth -- The city ethics board has changed the way elections happen here by insisting, and when necessary forcing, politicians to play by the rules and accurately report their campaign contributions and expenses. The board fought and won battles with City Council members, Congressmen, and the city's most powerful union. Now everyone in politics here knows there's a watchdog that will bite.
6) Rendell elected governor – They said a Philly guy couldn’t get the big job, but in 2002, Ed Rendell proved popular wisdom wrong. He beat party-endorsed Bob Casey in the primary with a savvy campaign, prodigious fundraising, and a whole lot of shoe leather, going on to easily win the general election.
7) Brady-Dougherty feud -- Electricians Union Chief John Dougherty lost status in the party after he clashed with U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, in 2006. Brady and party secretary Carol Ann Campbell, who died in 2008, launched an inquiry into how money had been spent from 2000 to 2005 while Dougherty was party treasurer. Dougherty bowed out of his party post during the fracas.
8) Philly Casinos -- More than three years after the state issued two casino licenses in the city, neither is open. SugarHouse in Fishtown is under construction and shooting for a mid-2010 opening but Foxwoods in South Philadelphia is floundering, much to the consternation of the state, and still seeking funding to start construction.
9) The state takeover of the Philadelphia School District – Engineered by then-Mayor John Street, It started in 2002 and was supposed to be a temporary stabilizing effort but so far there no signs of returning control to a local school board
10) Latrice Bryant -- Councilman W. Wilson Goode’s aide, Latrice Bryant, took offense in September 2008 when Fox 29 News wanted to ask her about running personal errands on the city dime so she held signs aloft during a Council session, comparing the station to the KKK. The station later followed up with vacation pics of Bryant looking mighty cozy with Goode during a 2005 Jamaican vacation.