The city’s politically powerful Electricians union has finally endorsed Jack O’Neill.
Not for district attorney. That race ended a month ago. He lost.
No, Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has endorsed O’Neill for another job — working for the union.
O’Neill, who served 10 years in the District Attorney’s Office, was a last-minute addition to the seven-candidate May 16 Democratic primary election. He finished sixth, with 6 percent of the vote, winning three wards in Northeast Philadelphia.
O’Neill drew strong support from the building trades unions, which used an independent expenditure political action committee, Building a Better PA Fund, to spend $310,680 on media production, TV commercials, and newspaper ads.
Local 98 never formally endorsed him.
On Election Day, we asked O’Neill and Frank Keel, a Local 98 spokesman, whether the union kept its distance from the candidate because of that whole ongoing-federal-investigation-type-situation the union has been dealing with since the FBI rolled up to Local 98’s headquarters last August with subpoenas and a rental truck. Both men said the absence of an endorsement had no connection to that.
Still, Local 98 sure seemed to be backing O’Neill.
A Local 98 lawyer is treasurer of Building a Better PA Fund. And the union paid for campaign signs plastered around polling places. Local 98 members escorted O’Neill and his wife around the city on Election Day, waving signs in support of his campaign.
This week, Clout got confirmation that O’Neill now works there.
“Attorney Jack O’Neill was recently hired by IBEW Local 98 as in-house legal counsel,” Keel wrote in an email, “to assist the union in meeting the many demands of a rapidly changing energy industry, including electrical, solar, nuclear, and other emerging technologies,”
O’Neill’s new duties do not include representing the union in the federal investigation, Keel said.
Kenney: ‘That’s their business’
Mayor Kenney on Thursday honored former Mayor John Street by attending Street’s portrait-hanging ceremony in the Mayor’s Reception Room.
We don’t really care about that. But we will take the opportunity to recount one of our favorite City Hall story lines of recent years.
In a nutshell, Street so despises his successor, former Mayor Michael Nutter, that he waited for Kenney to assume office so he wouldn’t have to attend a portrait-hanging ceremony hosted by Nutter.
“Mayor Nutter proved to be a petty, incompetent micromanager. I don’t really like or respect him,” Street told reporter Julia Terruso back in December.
Nutter fired back by calling the Street administration “an embarrassment to our city in the public eye and before the nation,” and saying Street has “some unresolved anger issues and possibly feels underappreciated.”
The result was that Garth Herrick, an award-winning artist who has painted other pols and notables, had to live with the Street portrait in his second-story Germantown art studio for more than three years.
“I have longed for a resolution and closure,” the mild-mannered artist said in December.
So much drama. Clout is honestly surprised that Terruso escaped from that flame war without getting singed.
As for Kenney, he’s too astute to get in the middle of the scuffle.
“I think that’s their business,” Kenney wisely said Thursday, “but I’m certainly honored to be able to hang his portrait.”
At which point, we like to imagine, Kenney changed into the cargo-shorts-and-Bob-Marley outfit he wore to the Odunde Festival last weekend, slipped on his shades, and sauntered out of the office while listening to “Easy Skanking” on his iPhone.
Odunde! We're here today celebrating African culture. This is one of the best festivals in the city! pic.twitter.com/jlNx9FGDll
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) June 11, 2017
Quote of the week
“Let’s be honest, this is embarrassing.” — State Sen. David Argall, referring to the strained brolationship between Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, a.k.a. Detective Jadick. Argall is pushing legislation that would let gubernatorial nominees choose their running mates.
No more arranged marriages!
Staff writers Chris Brennan, William Bender, and Julia Terruso contributed to this column. Tips: email@example.com