New Council leader's across-town help

Philadelphia has long been a clannish town, where political affiliation and personal identity often come down to what neighborhood you're from.

But the bonds of geography don't always hold.

Take Councilmen Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco - two South Philly guys, close allies, and good friends - and their relationship with John J. Dougherty, leader of the electricians' union.

Dougherty has built himself into a citywide player, but at heart he remains a guy from South Philly, where he leads the neighborhood's First Ward.

Dougherty won a big victory last week, when his chosen candidate locked up the support to become the next Council president.

Kenney was running - although as a late entrant - while Dougherty was supporting Darrell L. Clarke, a North Philly guy.

DiCicco, who is leaving Council this year to start a consulting business, said he found it "interesting" that Dougherty didn't back Kenney.

"They all lived and worked and grew up together, and he's supporting someone from North Philadelphia, as opposed to one of his neighborhood guys?" DiCicco said. "That's his favorite speech, you know: 'We all got to stick together, we're all neighborhood guys.' "

DiCicco added, with a mischievous smile, "I just can't imagine how Dougherty could explain to the people in the First Ward . . . that he's not supporting Jim Kenney for Council president."

In a phone interview, Dougherty said he worked hard for Kenney in the primary and general election, when Kenney got the most votes of any at-large candidate in the First Ward.

Furthermore, he said, Kenney "was not uncomfortable with me keeping my word to Darrell Clarke," adding, "the people of the First Ward understand a handshake."

"I think Frank might have been more concerned about having a friend as Council president for his new consulting company," Dougherty said. - Troy Graham

Light moments in Kenney-Green rivalry

And speaking of Jim Kenney, his running rivalry with Bill Green continues to provide entertainment at Council meetings.

Last week, Green spoke against Kenney's bill to shield restaurant workers' tips from credit card processing fees, legislation that nonetheless passed, 14-2.

"I would like to thank Councilman Green for his continued scrutiny of my bills," Kenney said. "I feel as if I have an extra legislative assistant."

"I'm very pleased to be of service to my colleagues and glad to know it's appreciated," Green replied.

At the end of the meeting, Kenney had hoagies distributed in honor of national sandwich day while he held forth on their contents.

After Green teased him for his "substantive" comments, Kenney cautioned his colleague to chew his hoagie carefully so as not to choke on it. - Troy Graham

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