City Council members are often judged by their legislative prowess, but Thursday night the singing, dancing, guitar playing legislative body was cheered --and occassionally laughed at all for a good cause at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
At the first-of-its-kind fundraising event, "Council's Got Talent" members helped raise $30,000 for Philabundance to help fight hunger while putting on an entertaining show.
Council president Darrell Clarke, sporting the usual black suit, stood behind a podium with the 5 CDs which consisted of a range of staffers including Council's Chief Clerk, sergeant at arms and others. Clarke and staff sung John Legend's Green Light, but a remixed version that described the green, yellow and red light on Council's hand-held timer that signals public speakers as to when their comment period has concluded.
The judges: former mayor John Street, former City Council president Anna Verna and comedian Joe Conklin didn't hold any punches.
Of Clarke's performance, Street said, "It sounded like professional mourners."
And then there was Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell who along with her staff stole the show. Blackwell wore a black and white striped Adidas sweat suit, Both she and her staff had thick rope gold chains and shades. One staffer had a huge gold clock around his neck, apparently channeling rapper Flavor Flav. Blackwell and team rapped to the tune of "Rapper's Delight," "You can't touch my swag... I'm Jannie from Cheyney, now have a blessed day."
Council freshmen Bobby Henon, Cindy Bass, Mark Squilla, Kenyatta Johnson, David Oh and Denny O'Brien, dubbed for the night the "Not so serious six," sung "Da Doo Run Run" parody about the city's new property-tax system --the Actual Value Initiative, the Revenue Department and 3-1-1.
"Nutter came on Monday to talk about AVI," Squilla sang. "Let's all cry, let's all cry."
Councilwoman Marian Tasco showed off her dance moves and did the Cha Cha.
Councilman Bill Greenlee was the funniest man in the room --well, second to Conklin.
Greenlee described a time when he was waiting for the bus one windy day and an elderly woman was holding onto her hat.
"...That wind was blowing and her dress was coming up...I told the lady 'look the way the wind is blowing your dress is coming up...'" Greenlee said. "And she looked down and said, 'honey, everything down there is 75 years old. I just bought this damn hat.'"
Henon led the charge in putting the event together and members spent two weeks praciticing. Street applauded Council for the event.
"It was a wonderful thing for Council to do and an opportunity for Council to come together," Street said. "And for the Council president, it's team building ... you have to have that kind of relationship when you're dealing with these kind of problems."