Former MBEC boss speaks out about his firing

Four weeks after being fired by Mayor Nutter, Michael Bell, who led Philadelphia's minority business office, has decided to speak out publicly.

In an interview published in today's Philadelphia Tribune, Bell says he was a scapegoat whose firing stemmed from personality clashes with his boss, Commerce Department deputy Kevin Dow, more than anything else. He said he had a hard time getting the mayor's attention, including when it came time to presenting the mayor with a strategic plan for the department he led, the newly formed Office of Economic Opportunity, which replaced the Minority Business Enterprise Council.

"I'm a mayoral appointee and I can't call and get 10 minutes with the mayor? Then why was I in the position?" Bell told the Tribune.

Nutter's spokesman, Doug Oliver, had another explanation for Bell's firing. "There wasn't as much progress made in his portfolio as we would have liked," Oliver told The Inquirer at the time. "Given the importance of increasing minority-business participation and ensuring that economic opportunity is available to all, now was the appropriate time to make the change."

Bell's comments were being digested this morning by Nutter's chief of staff, Clay Armbrister, Managing Director Camille Barnett and City Solicitor Shelldy Smith, who were together for a meeting of the city's Administrative Board. Nutter, who was also at that meeting, was seen glancing at the story.

But in an interview afterward, he said he hadn't yet read it and would have no comment. "It's a personnel matter," Nutter said.

Click here for's politics page.